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If you recently bought your first house, you’re likely learning a new responsibility or two that comes with homeownership. One chore that can often be overlooked is routine gutter maintenance. Even though it might not seem like a priority, gutter maintenance is an important step in avoiding costly home repairs down the line.
Leaves and other debris collect and can clog downspouts, leading to water damaged roofs and fascia, mold, and rodent problems. On top of this, water that pours over the gutters can run into basements or crawl spaces or cause trouble with your home’s foundation. Luckily, I’ve compiled a list of nifty gutter cleaning tips and tricks to help you with the task!
Could your gutters use a repair or cleaning? Contact a gutter contractor today and receive quotes from pros in your area, for free.
When To Clean Your Gutters
Experts recommend that as a rule of thumb, you should perform a good gutter cleaning at least twice a year, but your maintenance schedule will ultimately depend on where you live. Different climates and varying landscapes will determine how often your gutters should be cleaned. For example, if you live around pine trees, you’ll likely need to inspect your gutters every three months since the trees shed needles year-round. If you live in a colder climate, be watchful of freezing conditions that can cause ice dams or leaks.
Check your weather before you set a day to do your cleaning. The job will be easier if the debris is dry. It’s also a good idea to clean before big storms, so you can rest assured that your gutters will do their job properly.
What You’ll Need
Begin by gathering the tools required for the task. You’ll need a sturdy ladder, a good pair of gloves, and a garden hose hooked up to a water spigot. You might also want to keep a garden shovel or trowel nearby for breaking up large clumps. For easy cleanup, dispose of the debris in a bucket or keep a tarp on the ground beneath your ladder. If you plan on using an extension ladder that leans up against the house, it is a good idea to invest in standoff stabilizers. These prevent the ladder from lying against the gutters, which can cause damage.
Keep in mind that it is not recommended that you do gutter maintenance or repair from your roof, as it poses a major safety hazard. Clean your gutters using a firmly planted ladder, and avoid reaching too far past the side rail or standing on the top three rungs.
Gutter Maintenance Tips
After you’ve gathered your materials, pick a place near a downspout to start your clean. Remove large debris like twigs and leaves with a small shovel or trowel. Once you’ve gone around and cleaned out what you can, clear out smaller particles with a water hose, starting at the opposite end of the downspout. If you find that the water doesn’t drain, the downspout may be clogged.
To unclog a downspout, run a water hose with a narrow nozzle locked on full pressure up the pipe from the bottom. If this doesn’t do the trick, use a plumber’s snake to remove the blockage.
Gutter Repair Tips
If you find standing water after the gutter has been flushed, the likely culprit is an insufficient slope. For every ten feet of gutter, there should be a quarter-inch decline towards the downspout. To fix the slope issue, detach hangers and adjust accordingly. When doing this, it’ll be easiest to work in small sections.
It’s also important to check the gutters for visual signs of damage or missing parts. If you find an area that has damage, make the necessary repairs. The sooner you do this, the better. Letting a problem go unfixed can cause more significant problems later down the road. Similarly, you’ll want to perform a leak check by running water through the systems and looking for obvious drips. Leak repairs can be made by applying gutter sealant to seams or repairing holes with appropriate patch tape.
Gutter Protection Systems
Though they don’t completely let you off the hook when it comes to maintenance, gutter protection systems can be helpful in cutting back on the debris that collects. You’ll find many options, ranging from DIY foam guards and metal screens to professionally installed micromesh guards.
DIY Gutter Maintenance Vs. Hiring A Professional
We can give you all the gutter cleaning tips out there, but the truth is, gutter maintenance is not always an easy task. Some gutters, like ones on houses with high roofs, are hard to reach and are not accessible without special equipment. Others may be easy to reach, but require more drastic measures to clear. It’s also possible that your entire gutter system is in a state of disrepair and needs to be replaced entirely. Hiring a professional or handyman is sometimes the best option to ensure that the job is done correctly and safely.
Need help with gutter installation or repair for your home? Find a local contractor to help you get the job done today!