Gutter systems are essential for keeping your roof in optimal condition. Gutters divert rainwater, reduce pooling and direct water away from the building’s foundation. If you have a house with multiple levels, you might wonder where to install the gutters and how to connect them.
In this article, you’ll learn how to connect gutters on two different levels to manage drainage in the most efficient way.
Do You Need Gutters on Every Story?
If you have a multilevel home, your first step is to decide where to install the gutters. If there is a taller main roof, many experts recommend installing the gutter there. This will catch the majority of the water and redirect it appropriately.
But this method only works well if the main roof overhangs the other levels. In some cases, buildings have multiple roof levels that are exposed to precipitation. If rain pelts a particular slope, there should be a gutter to catch it.
You may also need additional gutters if the roof is significantly sloped. Rain and other precipitation move faster down a steep slope than a gentle one. These areas may need bigger gutters and downspouts to handle the runoff’s high speed and volume.
Why You Should Connect Gutters on Multiple Levels
Most buildings need more gutters and downspouts than you might expect. It never hurts to overdo it.
You might be tempted to skimp on gutters in certain areas to save money. If you don’t have an adequate gutter system on your home, however, you could experience leaks, moisture issues, flooding and foundation damage.
If you’re adding gutters to two different levels to ensure adequate coverage, you don’t necessarily have to connect them. The downspout from the top level gutter could empty onto a lower-level roof. That would disperse the water onto the slope, to be collected by that roof’s gutter.
This puts additional wear and tear on the surface of the lower roof and its gutters. The water volume might overwhelm the gutters, creating problems with overflow. The extra water flowing over the roof’s surface can deteriorate the material at a faster rate than other parts of the roof. Heavy rain can wash away the protective granules on the surface of your shingles or seep into seams with inadequate flashing.
Finally, when you don’t connect the gutters, you lose some control over your drainage system. In strong storms, the water can flow off of the side of the roof, missing the lower gutter altogether. The speed and volume make it impossible for the lower gutter to do its job, and you may notice signs that your gutters need help around the foundation of your home.
It’s often better to connect the gutters on different levels. This encourages water to drain from the top down and keeps it within the drainage system until it reaches the exit point. Without connecting gutters on two different levels, you’ll end up with overflow and splashing that negates the purpose of the gutters.
Using Downspout Extensions to Connect Gutters on Two Different Levels
Downspout extenders transform your gutter system into an efficient network. Instead of putting unnecessary strain on lower gutters and eroding the surface of the roof unevenly, the water is controlled until it exits away from the foundation.
This convenient device is made of a straight downspout tube and two elbows. The elbows allow you to attach the extension to the upper downspout and drain into the lower gutter while the extension rests on the slope of the roof. You may need to use multiple elbows to create the shape and angle that works best for your roof. All of the sections must be securely installed so that they withstand the maximum volume of precipitation without separating.
With the right design and installation, a downspout extension blends into your architecture. They’re often placed along the edge of the roof, where they’re not very noticeable. Without an adequate gutter system, your roof will begin to show signs of wear, which aren’t aesthetically pleasing either. You’ll breathe more life into your roof and gutters as well as maintain their appearance if you use downspout extensions to connect gutters on two different levels.
Signs That Your Gutter System Needs Help
If you’re still wondering whether you need gutters on multiple levels, examine your current situation or have a professional roofer conduct an inspection. Some of the main indicators that your gutter system needs improvement include:
- Structural damage – Look for signs of water damage around the gutters, including the fascia and shingles.
- Mold growth – Organic growth on the roof, in the gutters or near the foundation indicates that your home would benefit from better drainage.
- Indoor leaks or moisture problems on ceilings and walls – Repeated water flow on certain areas of the home can lead to leaks that make their way indoors.
- Leaks in the basement – When the soil around the home becomes oversaturated, it can create moisture problems in the lower floors and basement.
- Cracks in the foundation – Water that cascades over the side of the gutter or isn’t properly directed to a downspout can erode the soil around the foundation and create fractures over time.
- Pooling on or around the home – Standing water can create problems with pests, rot, mold growth and deterioration and could be a sign that your gutters are inadequate or clogged.
- Discoloration – Light or dark streaks on your roof could indicate surface damage from downspout runoff.
If you decide not to connect gutters on two different levels, you have some other options. You can install an oversized gutter on the lower level to accommodate the extra water flow from above. Splash guards are also available to prevent the precipitation from splashing over the edge.
However, the gutters on the lower level will still do double the work. You may need to replace them more often than you would if you used downspout extensions. Some homeowners don’t care for the way splash guards look. They’re somewhat obvious and may detract from the architecture of your home.
Additional downspouts on your existing gutters can help move water away from your roof evenly without overwhelming a particular area. They also help prevent overflow and splashing. But if you don’t connect gutters on two different levels with downspouts, you’ll still experience some of the problems that we mentioned above.
Now that you understand how to connect gutters on two different levels and the benefits of doing so, don’t forget about the rest of the drainage system. Pay attention to the exit points of the downspouts near the home.
If they’re not long enough, they may not divert water far enough away from the foundation. Improper grading of your lawn can also cause water to settle too close to your house. Placing splash blocks at the base of your downspouts prevents erosion and backflow. Establishing an underground drainage system is also an effective way to keep water away from the home.
The best way to ensure that your gutters are doing their job and protect your roofing investment is to work with a professional. Gutter installation and placement depends on your home, property, and climate. We can help you design an efficient and attractive gutter system that is as visually appealing as it is functional.
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