How to Maintain Your Gutters and Extend Their Life
Regular gutter cleaning will save you money on costly repairs later on. The most important thing you can do is maintain clean gutters. Even if you have gutter leaf protection, airborne debris and seeds will enter the gutter system, so check and clean your gutters at least twice a year. The best time to clean a gutter is after the trees have shed their leaves in the late fall.
Heavy-duty expanded metal gutter leaf screens are the best leaf protection I’ve found, and they’re great at keeping leaves and twigs out of the gutters. These screens allow you to inspect your gutters. Debris such as pine needles may need to be manually cleaned on occasion. If your gutters are not draining correctly, spray water into them with a garden hose to check the slope. Water should flow freely towards the downspout. If it simply sits there, the gutter must be adjusted. The gutter should be adjusted to eliminate any high or low spots preventing water from flowing to the downspout.
- If a single length of the gutter is longer than 30 feet, it should be installed to drain in both directions from the center and have downspouts on both ends.
- Water levels will cause a gutter installed level to drain. However, there will be no water flow to self-clean the gutter. Too much slope does not look good, and it reduces the capacity of the gutters.
- After cleaning the gutters, conduct a gutter inspection to look for potential gutter repairs such as holes or dents. Examine the gutter hangers and spikes for any loose, bent, or missing.
- Spikes and ferrules installed on gutters will become loose over time. The expansion and contraction of the gutters as a result of temperature changes between summer and winter will cause the spikes or nails to loosen (nails). You’ve probably seen these big nails that must be pounded yearly.
- Gutters that are not adequately secured to the house, such as with improper screws or attachments to rotten wood, will eventually collapse under their own weight.
If you have a clogged downspout, run a garden hose down from the top, turn the water on full blast, and the clog should be cleared. If that doesn’t work, try a plumber’s snake.
If all of this fails to remove the clog, the downspout must be removed and disassembled to locate the clog. The clog is usually in one of the elbows. I’ve discovered various items in downspouts, including toys and golf balls.
Examine the downspouts and lower elbows for any loose connections or damage. Lawn equipment or animals can occasionally damage the lower downspout elbow.
Before flushing your downspouts, always disconnect them from the underground drain lines.
Using splash blocks, downspout extensions, or underground drainage, water should be discharged from the downspout at least 5 feet away from the foundation.
Gutter Exterior Surface Cleaning
Gutter repair and cleaning are required regularly for proper function, but the outside surface should also be cleaned for good curb appeal. Simple cleaning procedures should be performed once a year to reduce deposit buildup. Tiger stripes indicate an already heavy buildup on the gutters, necessitating the use of a powerful cleaning solution.
Use nonabrasive household detergent for surface soil and stains caused by industrial fallout, tree sap, insecticides, or chimney fumes. The solution should be gently rubbed into the soiled surface with a soft rag, sponge, or soft bristle brush.
To create glossy areas over the satin finish, do not rub vigorously. Use soft bristle brushes with a long extension handle to reach some of the higher areas. The entire surface must be thoroughly rinsed with water immediately following all washing operations.
If you have stubborn stains, use a heavy-duty cleaner like “Fantastic.” Heavy soil deposits may not be removable in a single application and necessitate multiple cleanings over time.
Cleaners containing abrasive particles, ammonia, solvents, or paint removers should not be used. These materials have the potential to soften or remove the finish.
Climates differ significantly from one location to the next. Mildew may be an issue in some areas. It appears as black spots on the surface and is typically discovered on the underside of the gutter first. Prepare the solution below and apply it as directed above for removal.
- 1/3 cup detergent (Tide, for example)
- 2/3 cup Trisodium phosphate (soilax for example)
- 1 quart 5% Sodium Hypochlorite solution (Clorox, for example)
- 3 quarts water
- CAUTION: Greater concentrations may cause damage to the finish.
Gutter Damage From Ice And Snow
Another issue, which is much more common in the northern United States, is snow and ice damage. An ice dam forms when melted snow refreezes at the roof’s edges. Guttering, contrary to popular belief, does not cause ice dams. Guttering, on the other hand, helps concentrate ice and water in vulnerable areas. When gutters become clogged with ice, they frequently bend and rip away from the house.
Gutters installed on homes or buildings with metal roofs are particularly vulnerable to snow accumulation damage. As the temperature rises, large chunks of snow can slide off the roof, causing severe gutter damage. Metal roof snow guards installed on roofs can help prevent snow slides by allowing snow to melt or fall off in small amounts.
Check For Signs Of A Problem
Observing your gutters during heavy rain is the best way to determine whether or not you require gutter repairs. Check that all of your downspouts are working correctly. Check to see if water is overflowing from the gutter’s top.
If your gutters are filling up faster than they are draining, you may have a blockage or not enough downspouts.
Water leaking from behind the gutter indicates that the back of the gutters was not installed beneath the drip edge flange. Look for leaks at the corners and end caps to see if they are adequately sealed.
If you find bent gutter hangers tightly screwed to the structure, there was likely too much weight in the gutter. Most likely due to ice, snow, or a major clog, allowing water to accumulate in the gutter.
Neglecting rain gutter repair will result in costly soffit and fascia repairs. Peeling paint or wood rot indicate that the gutters in that area are overflowing.
Splash guards have required at all inside corners and where two roof lines meet to form a valley. These splash guards keep water from overflowing your gutter at the roof valley.
Gutter Repair Safty
None of our housework is as dangerous as gutter repair and cleaning. If you decide to clean your gutters, please follow these safety precautions:
Take care! Keep ladders, tools, and yourself at least ten feet away from power lines. Plan your gutter cleaning when no one else is at home, or notify a neighbor of your plans.
All four side rails of a step ladder must be level with the ground. Check that your step ladder is fully open and that the spreaders are securely locked. The ladder should be set up close to the work to avoid tipping over sideways due to overreaching. On extension ladders, use ladder accessories such as stand-offs and leg levelers.
To gain additional height, never place your ladder on an unstable base. Do not stand higher than the highest standing level indicated on the label. Maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times. That translates to two feet and one hand, or two hands and one foot.
Never rest your ladder on the gutter to avoid unnecessary gutter repairs!
Other Gutter Repair Tips
When performing gutter repairs, always wear gloves to avoid being cut by sharp metal edges. Also, moist and rotten debris is a breeding ground for bacteria.
Wearing a dust mask while cleaning your gutters is always a good idea, especially if you have allergies. When you remove gutter debris, you also remove a lot of dust and mold spores.