The gutters on your house provide a valuable service to your home’s exterior and are an essential part of roof maintenance. Gutters channel the rainwater run-off from your roof, preventing erosion of the soil around the foundation of your home. Gutters prevent cracks in your foundation as well as moisture in your basement caused by rainwater pooling and seeping down into the ground around your home.
Gutters protect your home for a multitude of other evils, including mold, mosquito infestations and peeling paint.
Gutters and Roof Maintenance
It’s crucial you do not forget to check your gutters when it comes time for some roof maintenance. Maintaining your gutters is important to the integrity of your home’s structure, so whether you are planning to stay in your home for an extended time or sell your home, it pays to keep gutters maintained to ensure the structure of your home remains solid.
The first thing you need to do before the bad weather comes on is to clean out your gutters and get them in good working order. You can hire a professional to clean your gutters or you can do-it-yourself. Here is a quick guide to DIY gutter cleaning and maintenance:
Scoop Out The Goop
To scoop out the loose debris in your gutter, you will need to use a ladder to climb up and see inside the gutters. Cleaning or attempting to repair your gutters from on top of the roof is not recommended. Clean your gutters while standing firmly on a ladder, observing ladder safety. Avoid standing on the top three rungs and don’t reach past the side rail – no farther than your belt buckle. When working from a ladder, use one bucket for gutter debris and another for carrying tools. Use wire hooks to attach the bucket to the ladder. Make sure the area below the gutter is clear.
To clean out the goop, start at a drain outlet at the low end of a gutter, using a narrow garden trowel or gutter scoop. Work away from the drain outlet. The easiest time to clean goop out of your gutters is when the debris is just a little damp, not completely soaked or dried. Scoop the debris out of the gutter and into the bucket attached to your ladder.
Flush the Gutter with Water
Using a high-pressure hose nozzle mounted at the end of a water hose, wash out each length of gutter, working toward the drain outlet from the opposite end of the downspout. This can be a messy job; try to avoid splattering mud all over your house. If necessary, use a stiff scrub brush to remove encrusted dirt. If the water doesn’t drain, recheck the downspout strainer to see if it is clogged and clean as necessary.
If the downspout is clogged, check the drain end. If the downspout runs underground, remove it from the pipe as needed. Install a small nozzle on the hose, and lock it at full pressure. Turn on the water and feed the hose up from the bottom of the spout. If this doesn’t clear the downspout or the nozzle is too big, use a plumber’s snake tool to clear the blockage.
After the downspout is clean, reattach it and flush the gutter again. Also, make sure to clean the downspout strainers.
Adjust the Slope
From time to time during the rainy season, you can maintain your gutters by adjusting them to keep water moving toward the downspouts. If they are draining slowly (check this by running water through them), you will need to reposition them so that they slope at a rate of ¼ inch for every 10 feet.
Add Downspout Extenders if Necessary
If water is not being expelled far enough away from our house, you may need to add downspout extenders to help. Another thing to consider is adding concrete or plastic splash blocks, which extend away from the house for at least 4 feet.
Look for Leaks
Another thing you want to look at when maintaining your gutter during the rainy season are the sources of any leaks, including holes in the gutters and cracked caulking in the seams. Use an old chisel to scrape the old caulking out and dry the area thoroughly. Then use new bead silicon sealing to keep water from getting down behind the gutters and rotting the boards.
Check and Replace Rotted Fascia Boards
Check your gutters during the season to make sure they are affixed tightly to the fascia boards, looking at the boards to see if they have dry rot or other damage. When replacing boards, use treated lumber and paint the board to match the other boards.
Secure Gutter Spikes
Sometimes the gutter spikes miss the rafters entirely, usually because the spike has just worked its way out of the hole over the years. It’s a good idea to invest in new gutter spikes so the gutters are securely fastened once again.
Here are tips for replacing gutter spikes:
- First remove the gutter spikes and ferrules (these are the large spacers that keep the gutter walls from collapsing while you drill). Make sure to install a new set as soon as you remove the old one.
- Position the new ferrule inside the gutter, directly behind the existing spike hole.
- Insert the gutter screw into the existing spike hole. Use a standard variable-speed drill, electric or cordless, to slowly thread the fastener through the spike hole and the ferrule and then into the existing fascia hole.
- Thread the fastener until the head is even with the gutter and the screw has engaged with the rafters on the other side of the fascia board.
Consider New Gutters
Look for peeling paint and rust on your gutters. If they are rusting, they are very old and you may want to think about getting new gutters that are aluminum or vinyl. Otherwise, make sure to scrape and paint the gutters.
Inspect the Rivets
It’s easy for the rivets on your gutters to work themselves loose or drop out completely. With a rivet gun you can secure the rivets back into the gutter. You can purchase both new rivets and a rivet gun at your local hardware store to keep your gutters maintained.
To make sure that your gutters are maintained throughout the year, go through these steps at least twice a year before a rainy season to keep them in the best working order. Keeping up with the maintenance ensures your home is protected and remains an asset to you.