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Why It’s Important to Clean Your Gutters (And What Happens If You Don’t)

March 18th, 2020

Amidst all that is going on in our communities right now, we want to continue to give you helpful content and tips for your home this spring.

We have talked about the importance of cleaning your gutters and downspouts in a few of our past pieces, but that just goes to show how important they will be to the integrity of your home this spring. Winter will have deposited a fair amount of debris onto your roof, and now that the snow has melted, most of it will have been drained into your gutters. You can find an array of gutter cleaning tools on Amazon or other retailers if you decide you want to do this yourself. Otherwise, you can call in a professional to do it for you.

We are running a spring gutter cleaning service that will include a complimentary inspection of the entire exterior of your home. If you’d like to take advantage of this service, give us a call at 612-284-6985, or email me directly at jack@shelter-usa.com.

But first, let’s point out the issues clogged gutters and downspouts will cause for you this spring if you don’t clean them out.

Roof leaks

Dirty, overflowing, and clogged gutters can be a major issue for many reasons, including your roof. Unclogged gutters will channel water to your downspouts, and away from your home. Clogged gutters will allow the water to sit against your roof, and over time cause the roof to rot. Eventually, the structural integrity of your roof will weaken, and water will leak into your home and possibly cause very expensive problems.

Sagging or broken gutters

The most frequent cause for sagging or broken gutters is clogs from debris. If your gutters are clogged this Spring, when it rains, the water will fill your gutters to the brim. Water gets heavy quickly, and all that extra weight can bend your gutters, and it some cases tear them away from your roof.

Foundation issues

A clean gutter system will carry water through to your downspouts and away from your home. A clogged gutter will do the exact opposite. It will allow water to pool until it begins to spill over the sides and down the walls of your home. This is bad news. The water will then begin to pool around your foundation and possibly cause erosion that will weaken the walls and lead to cracks. Water pouring down your foundation can lead to a wet basement as well. Make sure your basement is waterproofed, and that your sump pump is working properly.

Insect infestations

Now here’s a gross one. You may think of mosquitos as more of a backyard issue, but an excess of water in your gutters can be the ideal breeding ground for them. Damp debris can also serve as an invitation for bees and wasps to build their nests.

Problems caused by clogged or broken gutters are annoying and expensive to fix. But the good news is, by simply unclogging your gutters, you can prevent these problems from happening. If you’d like to take advantage of our Spring Gutter Cleaning service, give us a call at 612-284-6985 or email me directly at jack@shelter-usa.com.

What This Winter Did to Your Roof… and How You Can Fix It This Spring

March 12th, 2020

Winter is over and it’s time for Minnesota homeowners to begin to enjoy the warmer weather that is coming our way. But the winter months bring extreme weather that isn’t kind to your roof. Snow, ice, and wind, in all their glorious forms, may have done more damage than you think.

We put together a list of some damage signs to look for when you do your inspection.

Look in your attic

Until the recent uptick in temperature, your home most likely had a build-up of snow and/or ice on the roof. Either of these can be detrimental to your attic. If you live in a home that has had trouble with ice dams in the past, then your attic is a place you especially need to check. Ice dams can cause excessive condensation to your attic’s ceiling. Even a small amount of moisture build-up can lead to both wood rot and mold.

When you inspect your attic, some telltale signs are:

  • Hot or stuffy feeling – A properly ventilated attic should feel breezy. If it feels hot or stuffy, you have a ventilation problem.
  • Dark or black stains on wood surfaces – This is likely mold that needs to be removed
  • Wet Insulation – Another potential mold indicator. In addition, wet insulation doesn’t perform as well, and it will cost you extra money to heat or cool your home.
  • Frost buildup – In cold weather, water vapor in a poorly ventilated attic can freeze on the underside of your roof.
  • Trust your nose – A musty or moldy smell is a sign that there is a moisture problem.
Check ceilings for signs of paint discoloration or stains

There is no shortage of ways that water can enter your home, and you bet that melting snow is one of those ways. If you have a great roofing and gutters system (and have developed the good practice of raking your roof), then all that melting snow has probably disappeared without a hitch.

Take a good look at your ceilings. If you are noticing any paint discoloration or staining, that means water has made its way into your home. One of the most common causes for a ceiling water stain is a roof leak, that may be caused by a minor issue such as a damaged shingle, torn flashing, or loose screw in a section of your roof, or blockage in your gutters. Snow, ice, and wind can create these issues.

If you have water stains, don’t panic! A professional inspection of your roof and/or gutter system can pinpoint a solution.

Check for excessive granular loss

Shingle granules play a vital role in the preservation of your roof. They prevent your roof from being overexposed to the sun, in turn prolonging the need for another roof replacement.

Significant granular loss can be detrimental to the health of your roof. The snow and ice from this winter could have taken some extra granules with it, AND, importantly, may expose previously undetectable damage from a summer weather event.

This sounds technical, but thankfully, you won’t have to get up on your roof to inspect for excessive granular loss. Loose granules flow into your gutters with the water and pile up in your downspouts or directly onto the ground. If you inspect your downspouts and notice large amounts of granules, you may have an issue. Another easy way to detect granular loss is by simply looking at your roof for discoloration or light spots. If you see evidence, it may be time to call a professional like Shelter Construction for an inspection.

Here’s an easy one: look for curling, loose, or buckled shingles

If a quick review of your roof from the ground reveals a curled, buckled, loose, or missing shingle, it’s not a sign that your entire roof is compromised. Often it means just that – that a solitary shingle has become dislodged due to ice or wind. But it may mean, again, that previously undetected damage from a summer weather event is now, well, detectable. We recommend inspection by a qualified exterior contractor.

At Shelter, we perform free inspections and will perform minor repairs during the inspection to small damage that we find. Give us a call at 612-284-6985 or email me directly at jack@shelter-usa.com, and we will schedule a time for an inspection.

Is This Going to Be a Bad Year for Wet Basements?

March 3rd, 2020

The current excellent weather is making us all feel like spring is around the corner, and we hope all the forecasts that agree are correct! When it comes to large amounts of snow, this wasn’t a year for the record books. It most certainly wasn’t as bad as last year when it snowed nearly 40 inches in February in the Twin Cities, but that doesn’t mean our basements are safe from water intrusion as the snow melts under this month’s warm spring sun.

There are two easy ways for you to ensure your basement will be safe from water intrusion so that you can have a dry house this spring.

Gutters and downspouts

Without a proper gutter system, water from melted snow and rainwater may pond next to your house, causing a major problem. It will saturate the soil and begin to seep into the cracks in your basement, leading to water damage.

Of course, in most cases only having gutters isn’t enough, you need downspouts. Without downspouts, gutters will just push water directly towards your house, and you will have the same problem you’d have if you hadn’t had gutters at all. Properly installed downspouts and downspout extensions will help water flow away from your home’s foundation. In a perfect world, your downspouts will extend at least four to five feet from your house.

Last but certainly not least, make sure your gutters are clean. Dirty and overflowing gutters will make wet basements the least of your worries. They can be a major issue and can cause roof leaks and other forms of water intrusion. There are several tools on the market for the home handyman, or you can call a professional to do it for you.

We are offering a SPRING TUNE-UP SPECIAL this year that will include gutter cleaning as well as a roof inspection to ensure your roof is ready for the spring. To learn more about this service, call us at 612-284-6985 or email me directly at jack@shelter-usa.com.

Sight check your home’s grading

Poor grading is oftentimes the reason for flooding in basements. Poor grading is easy to detect. Go outside and look at the foundation of your home. If the ground is sloping towards your home or is allowing water to form a pond next to your home, then you have an issue. The remedy for poor grading is to change the landscaping around your house.

You don’t need to get too creative or extreme with this. Sometimes all it takes to fix this problem is to simply bring in some dirt and place it against your foundation so the ground slopes away from your home rather than towards it. One thing to look out for when you do this is to not pile the dirt up too high. Keep the dirt at least 6 inches from the top of your foundation wall. The reason for this is if you pile the dirt to high you run the risk of rotting your wood framing or allowing wood-boring insects to enter your home. We don’t want that.


Maybe you’re in a situation where your home is too close to your neighbors to allow for proper grading, or maybe your grading is already within 6 inches of the top of your foundation and you are still having trouble with water in your basement, then the next course of action may be to create a series of swales. Swales are like shallow ditches, and they will help divert water away from your home.

If you aren’t familiar with working on a project like this, the best course of action would be to contact an excavation contractor to advise you.

Consider a sump pump… or test the one you already have

Your gutters and your grading will be two very important aspects of keeping your basement dry this Spring, but also make sure to test your sump pumps as well.

A functioning sump pump will be very helpful in avoiding flooding. If you haven’t checked your sump pump in a while, now is the time, as they are recommended to be replaced if they are more than five years old. You may also want to consider getting a backup sump pump, and a water alarm for your sump pump in the case that something does go wrong. You will be able to find several of either of these with a simple Google search.

If you have any questions about anything in this article, please email me at jack@shelter-usa.com or give us a call at 612-284-6985.



How to Keep Your Home Dry This Spring

February 25th, 2020

If you are a homeowner in Minnesota, by now you are used to Winter and likely are excited for it to end and for Spring to bring some warmer weather and some much-needed sunshine. With a recent uptick in temperature, it looks like Spring is just around the corner and we will be seeing the Winter snow begin to melt away.

As a homeowner, this may worry you because when the snow melts that means flooding will follow. And even a few inches of flooding can cause thousands of dollars of damage. So, what can you do to make sure your home is ready for the melting that is destined to come in the not so distant future?

We’ve got a few handy tips that will help keep your home dry this Spring.

Move the snow away from your house

This one may seem obvious and is most likely something you’ve been doing all year, but the less snow and water near your home, the less likely you are to have issues with flooding.

Clean your gutters

Make sure you inspect your gutters for debris or ice. The winter storms will have deposited a fair amount of debris onto your roof, and when the snow eventually melts most of it will be drained into your gutters. Cleaning your gutters will help free them up for easier water flow for when that snow melts. Keep an eye out for granular loss in your gutters runoff. There most likely will be some granules in your gutter, that is normal, but if you’re seeing what seems to be an excessive amount there may be a larger problem at hand and it may be time to call a pro

There are tools you can find online at Amazon or in retailers near you that will help make this process much easier. Here’s an article with the top 10 best Gutter Cleaning Tools of 2019 for your convenience: https://www.savantmag.com/best-gutter-cleaning-tools-reviews/.

If you’d prefer a professional come out and clean your gutters, we are currently running a gutter cleaning service this Spring. If this interests you, give us a call at 612-284-6985 or email me today at jack@shelter-usa.com for more details.

Check your downspouts

Now this one is critical. Once you’ve cleaned your gutters, that water will have to go somewhere. You don’t want it all leading right back towards your home, right? So, make sure your downspouts are pointed AT LEAST 4 feet from your home to ensure the water stays far away from your foundation. Investing in downspout extensions is something you may want to look into. They are very affordable and will make this process even easier. Your downspouts will also prove useful for the many rainstorms we will inevitably see this Spring.

Test your sump pumps

If you haven’t tested your sump pumps to make sure they are working to their full potential, now is the time. This Spring will bring with it a lot of water, and you need to make sure everything is clicking on all cylinders to avoid flooding. Test to see if yours is working by listening for water draining into the pit. If you don’t hear water draining, it could be because of frozen ground. Test this by pouring a bit of water into the pit, you shouldn’t need any more than a bucketful.

It is recommended that sump pumps be replaced if they are more than 5 years old. They are fairly inexpensive and replacing them shouldn’t take more than a few hours.

Inspect your roof

Once the snow melts, and you can finally see your home’s roof again it’s time to take a closer look. Winter storms can take quite a toll on your roof, so when Spring arrives start by doing your own “from the ground” inspection. You won’t need a ladder or need to get on your roof. A pair of binoculars, a camera, or a high-quality smartphone should do. If you notice any missing or loose shingles, patchiness that could indicate granular loss (remember to check your gutters), or anything that seems out of the ordinary, give us a call and we will come out and do a free full inspection. Or, If you’re in an area that experienced hail or a severe storm in 2019, skip your own inspection and call a pro from Shelter immediately.

Spring is coming, and as usual, it’s going to bring a lot of water. Let’s make sure you are prepared.


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