The Gutters on your home will rarely actually leak, but the corner seams and end caps will routinely leak. These connections are sealed on the interior. They must be periodically resealed to prevent leaks.
Leaks at these connections can result in damage to the wood fascia behind the gutter and hidden wood decay/rot is not uncommon. If it is raining at the time of inspection, it is pretty easy to tell if the connections leak or not. However, if it is not raining, there can be evidence on the fascia, gutters and the ground below the connections of past, present or ongoing leaking.
Inspectors will be looking for stains or impact marks on the ground below these connections. Walkways, stairs and decks can become slippery or icy when these connections leak---becoming a safety hazard.
We also look for signs of stains or damage to the fascia.
Moss and algae growth on connections is a good indication of past leaking---and it this case active leaking.
The other day at an inspection there was a large water mark on the deck where the gutter corners above were still dripping onto the deck from raining a couple of days earlier.
At the gutters themselves, there was obvious dripping and staining that indicated past as well as current leaking. The wet spot or mark on the deck is just one of the “hints” that the inspector will look for.
About 5 feet away from the leaking described above, was another “hint” that I had never seen before. A large pot was place appropriately to collect the drip.
Perhaps it was a watering hole for the dog.
Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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WA State, Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board