It’s that time of the year once more when the weather gets not-so-friendly for us here at Tennessee, despite being the country’s acclaimed “2nd Friendliest State” according to last year’s Big 7 Travel. That old Classic Southern Charm might need to work harder on that friendly and cozy warmth as crazy cold and wet seasons are here again to stay.
Climate and Fast Facts on Tennessee
Due to Tennessee’s geographic location, our state usually avoids any direct impact of tropical storms and hurricanes and is still prone to rains. We average around 50 days of thunderstorms yearly, and these often come with damaging winds, torrential rains, and sometimes even hailstorms, as well as tornadoes. Tennessean even reported we’ve already had 35 Tornadoes in 2020 alone, having 2 out of it being the deadliest around March. Tornado season usually peaks in February, March, and April, and in the fall around November. As you might recall, Tennessee has averaged about 30 tornadoes yearly since 1995.
|Rank||Date||State||Scale||Injuries||Fatalities||Length (mi)||Width (yds)|
|1||Mar. 3, 2019||AL||EF4||90||23||68.04||1600|
|2||Mar. 3, 2020||TN||EF4||88||19||8.21||500|
|3||April 29, 2017||TX||EF4||25||2||21.42||1760|
|4||Feb. 28, 2017||MO||EF4||12||1||53.47||1100|
|5||May 27, 2019||OH||EF4||166||0||18.17||1050|
|6||May 28, 2019||KS||EF4||4||0||29.07||1760|
|7||Jan. 22, 2017||GA||EF3||45||11||24.66||700|
|8||Mar. 3, 2020||TN||EF3||220||5||60.13||800|
|9||Jan. 22, 2017||GA||EF3||88||5||70.4||2200|
|10||Jan. 21, 2017||MS||EF3||57||4||31.06||900|
Just a recent WATE 6 warns us of “a rain/snow mix move across the region followed by drier and colder air starting Thursday. As rain/snow mix (70%) tapers off before midnight with some lingering clouds and colder temperatures.” With the rain moving in, temperatures have been soaring in and getting set for some winter precipitation now; we’ll need to watch the weather and make home preparations.
Here’s the official forecast for the TN area within the March-April-May 2021 period, according to the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center:
Temperature (deg F)
Apparently, snowstorms pose a problem for most homeowners, as these could also cause considerable damage to properties!
Coping with the Weather
Living in an area with such an erratic climate usually leads us to deal with costly repairs. Once the rainy season starts and begins to pour a significant amount of water into roofs, soil erosion can damage your landscape. Worse, soil erosion can even damage your foundation, which will lead to even more costly repairs.
Studies and surveys conducted 2011 by the American Housing Survey (AHS) and the National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) in Memphis, TN-AR-MS alone shows “Roofing Problems” and “Foundation Problems” highly contributed to the statistics of the Severe/Moderate Physical Problems of the Basic Housing Quality standards both for Outside Central City and those of Central City areas.
The study involved 166,100 Owner-Occupied units and 64,400 Rental Home units Outside Central City, where it’s been noted that Roofing Problems ranked 10.1% on Owner-Occupied units and 9.1% out of the Rentals units and was also noted to be the main contributor of the Foundation Problems found in these areas where 6.0% were found in Owner-Occupied units. In contrast, 5.1% were noted in Rental Homes in the area.
Data also shows significantly higher on those noted housing issues for the 127,800 Owner-Occupied units and 113,900 Rental Home units in Central City; where cases of Roofing problems were noted at 12.1%, for Owner-Occupied units while only about 8.0% of the Rental units, whereas Foundation Problems were also up at 11.8% for Owner-Occupied units and 8.2% were noted amongst the Rental units for the same area.
Importance of Gutters
With the data shown above, it’s shown a great emphasis on the need to reevaluate structural health now and then, which may make or break both our buildings and homes on proper maintenance. This takes grave consideration that the area being known for its humid climate to have also been known to be susceptible to pests of all sorts; mosquitoes, wasps, ticks, termites, flies, which also constitutes to maintaining the health of our homes, starting with as simple and yet as equally crucial, as rain gutters.
RELATED: How Important Are Rain Gutters?
Primarily, rain gutters keep our homes/buildings protected from water damage. Having them, especially with our usual climate in Tennessee, could help;
- Prevent Soil Erosion – without installing rain gutters, rainwater washes away the soil that may a) create a puddle that may be a breeding site to pests like mosquitoes, termites, and roaches, b) destroy your landscaping/garden c) creates a depressed area that may form gaps or crevices near the base, increasing the risk on your home/building foundation.
- Protect your sidings – as rainwater creates a splash back as it hits the ground (or worse, formed a puddle), it looks not only unappealingly unkempt but also dangerous as well as it gets soaked (especially if made of wood), weakens them, and creates holes enough for termites and pests to invade your home.
- Prevent Basement Flooding – for buildings/homes with basement areas. This would be a great way to protect the said area from flooding and further damage your basement from molds and rot.
- Protect your home/building’s foundation – without gutters, building structures have their foundations at risk as rainwater collects at the bottom as water seeps through soil and soaks both the soil and the bases that lead to rot, and even cracks that may be both unsightly, dangerous and are expensive as well on repairs. Statistics even show usual foundation repair rates range from;
- $5,985 (National Average),
- $0 – $9,999 (Typical Range)
- and about $1,290 – $14,000 (Low End – High End)
What Are Gutters?
Rain Gutters – Also called Eavestrough, eaves-shot, or surface water collection channel, they are Roof drainage systems in a home, building, or infrastructure that helps keep-out roof water (rain or melted ice) on your roofs, walls, sidings, and foundations. GUTTER was taken from the Latin word GUTTA, meaning ‘a drop’ or “droplet.” The verb “GUTTERING” can be traced back to the late Middle English, originally meaning ‘cut grooves in’ and later (early 18th century) was used of a candle, which melts rapidly because it has become channeled-on to one side.
History notes that the first use of gutters dates back to the Romans around 1500 BC – 14 AD. Ironically though, the first use of gutters wasn’t intended for roof drainage but more of plumbing and waste disposal system instead. They said that gutters were used as an ancient toilet, built to direct waste away from living facilities. It wasn’t until the Greeks and Egyptians started to use the idea/concept to divert rainwater from their roofs instead.
As time passed, history also notes that it was then made popular as the concept made its way over Britain. It started with simple, V-shaped wooden gutters in the 18th century, which was then formed by fastening long sides of 2 boards together. It can also be a rectilinear shaped gutter formed from hewn logs by hollowing it out. They say that wrought iron brackets or wooden pins were also used to fasten the gutter to the building’s side. (also known as “eave”). The early downspouts or “Drop gutters” were made out of wood and were formed by fastening together four boards or hollowing a hewn log or woodblock.
As time passed, wooden gutters began to be placed onto public buildings and wealthy homes. In the early 1700s, cast iron became popular, plentiful, and a very cheap material, which changed the history of rain gutters. The material q gained popularity and eventually replaced lead as the main metal used as gutter materials. This style dominated the 20th century and has since evolved into various gutters we see today in all shapes, sizes, and materials.
Types of Guttering Systems
Regular or Traditional Gutters
These are the style for old homes. They are sections of gutters that have been pre-cut for easier installation. This means that these gutters’ joints and seams need to be properly sealed to prevent leakage. Also called the sectional gutters has been around since it was first created. It usually comes in 10ft-20ft sections that connect to create a larger roof drainage system. They are also fairly affordable and easy to maintain on your own since you can always take some parts off to either repair or replace each piece instead of taking the entire guttering system down.
These guttering systems are manufactured as one whole long piece. This means compared to the traditional gutters, these are not installed by piecing parts together- no need for joints or seams. Developed around 1960-1965, aluminum gutter machines were invented, which paved the way to other seamless gutters we have now available today. A typical residential installation for seamless gutters is about 140 feet of aluminum gutter with four corners and four downspouts.
Unlike the traditional ones, since it doesn’t have seams or joints, you don’t have to worry about any leaks, which eventually reduces clogs with any debris, preventing any overflowing water from your roofs. This could also mean less hassle in maintenance. Not only that, but they are also aesthetically pleasing without those seams or joints. While all these may sound heavenly compared to the regular gutters, they are also a bit costly. The reason being since you are paying for a professionally-licensed expert and that it also requires special equipment/machines to install them, compared to the traditional ones, where you can have it DIY. This could also mean that having issues with repairs and replacing these types of guttering systems might mean you’d need a whole new replacement of the entire unit.
Common Types of Rain Gutter Materials in the Market
Since evolving from wood, metal, lead, and more, gutter materials now have indeed come a very long way since then. Now that we understand its main function in our properties having a bit of know-how on the available materials gives you a better edge in determining which one suits your home based on your needs and budget. Here are the most common materials available for our gutters.
Aluminum: this considered as the most popular material for rain gutters (seamed or seamless)
|-Lasts up to 25 years||-Could get dents, bent, or twisted because of its lightweight quality|
|-Lightweight / easy to install|
|-Will not rust|
|-Comes in many colors and could also be painted|
|-Lightweight and affordable||-Turns brittle in high heat climates and cracks during hard freezes|
|-Best for DIY installation||-Color fades with sun exposure|
|-Safe for salty air|
|-Can be easily painted|
|-Long-lasting||-Costly / Pricey|
|-Develops an attractive patina or coating over time||-Somewhat intolerant to acidic runoff from cedar-shingled roofs or salty air|
|-Will not warp, fade, or rust||Not suitable for DIY installation|
|-Durable||-Not suitable for DIY installation|
|-Can be easily painted||-Prone to rust|
|-Extremely heavy-duty in all types of weather||– Not DIY-friendly|
|-Won’t rust or warp||-Very expensive|
|-Beautiful glow that develops a greenish patina, so no need to paint|
Who Needs Gutters?
Not all homes already have them built-in. Whether you’re owning new property or renting one in Tennessee, here are some tips to help you out;
1. Ask: What is the climate like in your area? We can’t stress this enough with our climate here in Tennessee! Gutter systems are a MUST and should be given top priority, especially if moving into our state, whether owning or renting a property.
2. If your roof only has a few inches of overhang or has no overhang, chances are, water will more likely accumulate against the foundation, damaging flowerbeds/landscapes near the foundation and pour down on people either upon entry or exit of your home. In this scenario, gutters are a necessity. Note: Typical metal roof overhangs may be a minimum of about two to four inches, or even less. A bit of overhang along a drip edge flashing is good, too, as it prevents water from penetrating beneath the roofing and seeping through the underlying wood. Typically, two feet would be the general maximum length for a typical roof overhang, as some think that this will protect a roof from most types of damage.
Roof overhangs can extend farther than 2 feet. However, beyond this length, they may begin to lose structural integrity and require external supports, especially with the strong winds that our state encounters from time to time. Metal is usually installed on “strip sheathing” / rafters, rather than the usual solid decking used under other materials.
3. If the house/building is slightly lower than the surrounding ground, gutter systems are required to channel water off of a sufficient distance from the foundation, preferably at least 10-feet away from the foundation. Unless, of course, if the base near the foundation is a paved surface, then you are good to go.
Common Gutter Problems in Tennessee
Probably at this point, you may now have decided and possibly already installed your rain gutters. Congratulations on taking that step to safety and savings! Don’t forget, though, that it’s also quite essential to note proper maintenance. Apart from just choosing the most suitable materials for our needs based on our usage, and climate per area, we also need to note the most common issues we could encounter and how we could resolve them ahead of time.
1. Incorrect Gutter System – We’ve already touched on some basics with gutter materials that are out in the market today, as well as the pros and cons on both qualities and cost for each type. It’s very important that we decide on the material and the best suitable type of gutter system, not only based on aesthetic purposes alone but most importantly on its utilization to get the most out of your money.
2. Clogged Gutters – You should always check the water flow on the downspouts’ mouth on rainy days and ensure that the water should be spewing out especially heavy rains. If it doesn’t, or if rainwater starts to overflow from the edges, you might need to check for blockage for cleaning. Gutters require cleaning twice a year at least, and in these times:
- Around late fall would be best, after all the leaves and twigs have come off
- Late spring, where the gutters could also be clogged with airborne particles like; pollens, seeds, petals, etc.
NOTE: These may not be applicable if you’re having seamless gutters!
3. Improperly Pitched Gutters – For gutters to effectively drain the water from your roof and flow seamlessly straight into a downspout, it also needs to be properly angled. A drain that’s just poorly pitched to a horizontal roofline only ends up with standing or stagnant water, especially if it’s clogged. This can eventually corrode the gutter material with the water it collects and keeps. It would also pose a possible breeding site for pests like mosquitoes, which lay their eggs in the puddle during the rainy season. Stagnant water could also freeze and clog your downspout as well during the winter, which may also add up some extra weight on the whole gutter system – weighing them down and, worse, weighing the whole thing off.
4. Sagging Gutters – These are usually issues brought by gutter hangers whose main job is to attach the gutters to the fascia securely, and some old gutter systems may have been worn-out over time. They may also be because either the fasteners may have been backed out of the wood or spaced too far apart to support the gutters’ full weight.
5. Downspouts Draining Too Close to the Foundation – Now, if this is the issue with the guttering system, then it defeats the purpose of even having one at all. Remember that the idea is to keep the water away from the foundation – ideally, at least 10 feet away from the foundation. In some cases, Gutter extensions attached to the downspout’s bottom help to do the trick to help extend and redirect the rainwater away from the base.
6. Leaks and Holes in Gutters Due to Corrosion – Small leaks and holes could always either be a quick-fix by just caulking the joints from the gutter’s insides with a good gutter sealant, while some big ones due to corrosion might need a total overhaul of the entire guttering system. While some might use PVCs, corrosion could still be present if the gutters are fastened using nails, screws, or bolts, which is usually the case with some old homes and may pose a threat unprotected by rusts.
Understanding your location, climate and knowing what to look out for on checking your gutter systems saves you tons of money in the process, which is essential nowadays during these pandemic times. It helps you more to determine what the best course of action will be and to determine your budget for it too in advance. These serve as quite a handy tip in mind, especially in determining the best gutter service experts or professionals in your area. Having basic know-how in, at least the type of gutters you have, what you might need vs. what you have for your budget would greatly ease your decision-making when the time comes that you’d need to talk with your local gutter service providers.
Before you go and scout for gutter service experts, it also pays off to do a bit of homework yourself and go for a provider that has your and your home’s best interest at heart!