Gutter Helmet Blog

Can Your Gutters Survive the Next Superstorm?

In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy tore through much of the U.S. Northeast, bringing rain, wind, flooding, and even snow to several states. Dozens of people were killed, millions of homes went without power for days or even weeks, and damages are estimated in the billions of dollars.

Those Americans who were fortunate enough to live in a state which was not impacted by Sandy might have wondered to themselves, “What would have happened if I had been in that situation? Could I have survived?” Since this is a blog devoted to gutters, the more relevant question can be found in the title of this article.

Rainproofing Gutters
Can your gutters survive THIS?

The short answer? No — not if you were in the direct path of the superstorm.

With wind gusts reaching 115 miles per hour in some areas, many gutters would have been torn away from roofs, while others would have been crushed by falling tree branches or trunks. And any gutter which somehow survived intact would not have been able to adequately direct water away from the foundation of the home given the torrential rainfall over such a long period of time.

That said, several of the states through which Sandy passed only suffered a “glancing blow” of sorts. In other words, they experienced wind and rain, but at levels which more closely resembled a heavy rainstorm as opposed to a hurricane. In these areas, gutters could (and did) weather the elements pretty well.

As you’ve heard by now, a superstorm like Sandy only comes along once every few decades (or longer); but heavy rainstorms are much more frequent. Therefore, you should probably focus on how to prepare your gutters so they can not only survive such a storm, but also perform their intended function effectively. And there are some steps you can take to accomplish that goal.

Preparing Your Gutters for Storms

If you are made aware of a severe storm that is heading your direction, and you have enough time to take preventive measures (maybe a half day or longer), here’s what you can do to protect your gutters:

  • Clean all leaves, twigs, pine needles, and any other debris out of them.
  • Do the same for your downspouts, and run water through them to make sure there are no unseen clogs still there.
  • Check the fasteners which attach your gutters to your roofline. Are they all tight? Do they not allow much (if any) movement when you try to wiggle your gutters? If these fasteners are loose, either replace them or add an additional one at the point of weakness.
  • Check the fasteners which attach your downspouts to the side of your home. If they aren’t as tight as they should be, replace the fastener or add another metal clip to secure the downspout.
  • Inspect the gutters and downspouts for holes and cracks, and repair them with caulk or sealant. You don’t want water trickling through these openings where it shouldn’t go.
  • Check the seams of your gutters and your downspouts. If they are separating or completely detached, you’ll need to repair them; otherwise, these will be the weakest link of your drainage system that could fail during a heavy storm. Refasten and recaulk these seams, or replace an entire gutter section if necessary. The same goes for downspout seams and connectors.
  • Get up on your roof and pare back tree limbs. These could fall on top of your gutters and either crush the metal or detach the gutter sections from your home entirely. A good rule of thumb is to leave at least three feet between any limbs and your roofline.

Better fix that before the storm comes.

Photo credits: laffy4k, The Red Hare