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gutter dam


Ken Meyer
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One of the first things I saw when I began the inspection the other day was this dam that had been installed in the gutter on the front of the house. I'm not sure why it was done, but I wrote it up saying that it would trap debris easily and water would back up and find its way between the roof shingles and the fascia to the left in the photo (red arrows), a poorly sealed area. The gutter drains at the right of the photo down a couple of inches to another shorter section of gutter perpendicular to it, on the side of the sloped roof over the front porch. From there, it goes to the downspout.

It rained for the 2 and a half hours it took for the inspection. I was just packing up to leave, my box with all my gear was just inside the front door, and just above it was the mail slot. Running down the wall from the mail slot was a small stream of water. I got the ladder out of the car again and took a second look at the gutter dam. It was directly over the outside mail slot. I cleared some of the debris from the left side of the gutter for the photo. I suggested that they cap off the gutter pretty close to where the gutter spike is and get rid of the piece to the left, then there would be access to the area that needs to be sealed off better.

I was feeling pretty good about having predicted something and then having it proven, but then as I was driving away I realized D'oh! the water leak had distracted me from taking a second look at something else on the exterior, so I had to turn around and check it. I felt a little less smart now.

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I cant see the rest of the gutter system underneath but based on your description I have a picture in mind.

Perhaps they should just remove this upper piece all together and use a diverter strip to direct the water from the upper portion into the lower gutter.

That sure is a strange looking way to do it. There had to be an easier way, don't you think?

How long is this upper piece that you pictured?

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I wish I had taken a wider view, but I wasn't thinking about posting the photo when I took it. The gutter pictured runs the length of the front of the house, the section on the left returns to the roof above the front porch. The bottom of that section where it returns is cut out to let the water fall through, but of course, the gap is small and easily fills up with leaves, etc. There were a couple of soil plugs in it from someone's lawn that had been aerated, birds or squirrels must have brought them up there.

The dam seems to have created a bigger problem than it was intended to fix. I still don't know why they bothered to put it in.

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Originally posted by Ken Meyer

. . . There were a couple of soil plugs in it from someone's lawn that had been aerated, birds or squirrels must have brought them up there.

Are you sure that they weren't raccoon turds? Those can look like soil plugs.

The dam seems to have created a bigger problem than it was intended to fix. I still don't know why they bothered to put it in.

They didn't want all of the gutter water from the front gutter to run over the porch roof. They wanted it to run directly into the porch gutter. But they didn't want to stop the front gutter with a straight cut because it would look silly.

Is there a way to widen the cut at the bottom of the beveled side of the dam?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I used to have raccoons in my back yard, until business slowed down. Par-boil, cool it down a little, dip into a little milk and dredge in corn meal or white flour, drop into a cast iron skillet with about 1" of bacon grease, 7 or 8 minutes per side and drain on a clean gunny sack. The taste is very much like my neighbor's compost pile.

Ken, what do soil plugs taste like?

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