Real Estate News

Ask the Remodeler: April showers loom. Help your gutters do their job.

Plus, how can a reader tame the drafts in his old New England home? Get more home improvement advice at

an illustration of eight people in blue shirts and orange pants working on a tan home with white trim. some are fixing the roof, others are fixing the windows, and two are carrying something into the front door.
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Q. I have an ongoing problem with the gutters on my house. During every rainstorm, the water seeps behind the gutter and drains between the gutter and the fascia board onto the ground below. I have had the gutters cleaned regularly and replaced, changing the angle so that they tilt more toward the downspout. I have consulted a few specialists, who tell me the gutters are fine. Do you have any recommendations?


A. Typically the metal drip edge that is installed below the first course of shingle extends out enough to have the water drip straight down into the gutter. I have seen the drip edge installed incorrectly or bent and beat up enough to allow water to get behind the gutter. Not sure what kind of gutter brackets you have, but the most cost-effective solution would be to have strips of aluminum cut and fastened up under the drip edge and extend down over the back edge of the gutter. This will channel any water that curls around and wants to go behind the gutter.



Q. My house is 115 years old and 1,440 square feet. Last year I completed a full interior/exterior rehab that brought it up to modern standards. I had all the windows replaced with double-hung ones that I am pleased with, but when it is windy in the winter, I can still feel drafts from the walls and around the window sills and sideboards. The contractor came back and sealed the window trim boards with clear caulking, which helped to a degree. He said I should expect to have drafts in such an old structure, especially with the strong January winds we experienced. My heating bill for 2021 (steam radiators with gas, Nest thermostat) was a little over $1,600. He said one option would be to remove a section of the vinyl siding and blown in cellulose insulation, but he warned that this may cause the interior lath walls to buckle. The exterior is Quest mastic vinyl siding with enviro-guard Styrofoam sheathing underneath. His advice was just to live with it: It’s New England! Do you have any suggestions, or is my contractor correct?

R.S., Newburyport

A. I hate to say it, but your contractor is probably right. There are two issues here. First, leaving the interior lathe on and using only cellulose blown in from the outside will do a lot but not fill every void, and that can lead to air making its way in. If you gutted it and used Icynene spray foam insulation, that would seal the house tight. but that is an expensive solution. The other issue is vinyl, which does not seal as tight as a fiber cement or wood siding. It hangs on the house somewhat loosely and allows air to get up and under. Even with the insulated sheathing board, it is hard to get a tight seal with vinyl.


Someone once told me that a house in New England on a cold, windy winter night is a like a house submerged in water. You know the water will work its way into any small breach. So will the cold air, unfortunately.

Mark Philben is the project development manager at Charlie Allen Renovations in Cambridge. Send your questions to [email protected]. Questions are subject to editing. Subscribe to the Globe’s free real estate newsletter — our weekly digest on buying, selling, and design — at Follow us on Twitter @GlobeHomes and on Facebook.


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