If you live in a home with built-in gutters, you know how nice they look. They certainly make your house look “finished” and it’s pleasant to look up and not see unsightly gutters lining the roof and snaking down the building. These built-in systems certainly enhance architectural appeal.

But while built-in or hidden membrane gutters are pretty cool and look great, they do present certain issues to which homeowner’s might not give a second thought…until problems occur.

What are built-in gutters?

Built-in gutters, also known as hidden gutters or, sometimes, box gutters, are a type of concealed roof drainage system. Specifically, they are formed by the structure at the eaves of the roof. Instead of attaching an external gutter outside the fascia, a hidden gutter uses the board to frame in the trough to collect water at the roof’s edge. A waterproof membrane is then placed over the board and under the roofing material a little way’s up the roof slope, depending on the pitch of the roof. A cap is then attached to the top of the board to provide a finished look and a copper pipe is soldered to a flange in order to drain water to a downpipe.

Common issues with built-in membrane gutters

Sounds simple, right? However, there are a number of reasons why you might have a problem with your built-in gutters and why you might need a professional for repairs.

  • First, when a new house is going up, the framers, the tradespeople that “frame” the house at the beginning of the build, are responsible for building the gutters. However, the framers do not provide slope, so the gutters tend not to be at the proper angle for drainage. This could cause multiple problems for the homeowner. Similarly, when it’s time for the roofers to do their job, they also do not add the proper slope to any drains provided when the installation of the membrane and roofing system is finished. This could also eventually be the cause of extensive damage to the house and/or the land around it.
  • Many of these gutter systems have inadequate capacity. That means these gutters cannot handle the amount of rainwater that falls. If you are in an area with plenty of precipitation, you should be wary of your built-in membrane gutters for this reason and should check their capacity.
  • In addition, the drains used are often too small and, furthermore, are mounted too high on the slope. That means the water won’t drain as it should, causing overflow or other issues.
  • The membrane can fail due to the fact that it expands and contracts as a result of extreme weather or the constant presence of direct sunlight. As such, it can fail at incorrectly installed seams, resulting in water damage to the home.

Inspecting and repairing your built-in gutters

Because flaws in a built-in gutter system are not visible to the eye as they sometimes can be with a traditional gutter system, it’s essential to have them inspected once to twice per year, especially after periods of extreme weather.

While you can inspect them on your own, doing so can be both difficult and dangerous. It’s best to hire a professional gutter installation company to look for any flaws and identify needed repairs as well as to clean them. They’ll look for signs of problems including dark areas of wood at the fascia boards or any kinds of staining or discoloration at the soffits. All of these are signs of water being where it shouldn’t be.

Common repairs made by Advantage Gutters on built-in gutter systems include full membrane replacement when needed as well as patching holes, repairing failed seams, replacing drains, upgrading outlets, and even replacing rotted and damaged boards, flashings, or caps.

If you’re concerned about problems with your built-in gutters, we can perform a full inspection, clean your gutters, provide a report on the condition of your system, and schedule repairs as needed. For more information on this and other services we provide, call Advantage Gutters at 604-514-9886.