#13 – Gutter Systems

Continuing from our last column on roofing maintenance, this is also the time of year to review the systems that drain the water from the roof and away from the building.

Most pitched or sloped roofs (and some flat roofs) have gutters, or eaves troughs, that catch the rain water at the edge and direct it to the building’s underground perimeter drains. Unfortunately, the gutters tend to catch all the other debris that lands on the roof as well, and once the majority of the autumn leaves have fallen, it’s time to clean them out and ensure the drain outlets are clear.

With all due respect to talents of the Strata’s “handyman” owner, (and many Stratas have them) this is not a job they should tackle. Part of the Corporation’s mandate is to mange risk on behalf of the Owners, and the Council is well advised to engage a WCB covered, and properly insured contractor to take on this work. It is also wise, and quite reasonable, to ask for proof of such coverage before the work starts.

The downspouts leading from the gutters to the perimeter drains should be checked to ensure they’re properly attached to the walls and the pipe sections connected together. Many owners from the Prairies will think nothing to see the bottom of the pipe directed into the surrounding gardens or lawns, but this is not the common practice on our wonderful “Wet Coast”.

The normal annual volume of rain here is such that the downspouts must be directed into a perimeter drain pipe system around the building’s foundation walls which, in turn, is connected to the property’s storm drainage system and takes the water to the municipal storm drain, or other natural water course.

We remind the reader that a building’s most significant function is to keep water out and, in doing so, we must also install various systems to direct water away from the structure. A gutter system is the next line of defense after the roof and we recommend a similar, semi-annual program of cleaning, inspection and minor repair (Fall and Spring) to maintain proper operation.

John Grubb is a Property Maintenance Consultant serving Strata Corporations and building owners on Vancouver Island.

To Next Article: Strata Strategies #14 – Drainage