Gutter Maintenance

gutter-maintenanceWhether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or looking for the help of a professional, maintaining your home’s gutters should always be on your to-do list. Gutters that are in need of repair or clogged with leaves and other debris can cause damage both to your roof and home.

Professionals recommend cleaning and maintaining your gutters at least twice a year. Whether you choose to do it yourself or hire a professional to do it for you often depends on whether you feel you can work comfortably from a ladder or roof.

Here are some basic maintenance tips that should help keep your gutters and downspouts working correctly:

Getting started

If you’re doing it yourself, make sure you have a steady ladder and can place it on a firm, level base. If your roof has a low pitch and you feel comfortable being on it, it might actually be easier than working from a ladder. Never work from the roof in inclement or harsh weather, however. You should also wear heavy work gloves when cleaning gutters to protect your hands.

Cleaning the gutters

Use a narrow garden trowel or a tool specifically made for cleaning gutters rather than trying to scoop debris with your hands. Begin at the drain outlet at the end of the gutter and work your way away from it as you clear out loose debris. Cleaning out the gutters is usually easiest when the debris is pliable and slightly damp. Scoop the debris into a plastic bucket or lightweight container.

Inspect the gutters

Once you’ve cleaned out the gutters by hand, make a close inspection of them.

Check gutter spikes. Take a close look at the gutter spikes that go through the gutter, fascia board, and rafter behind it. Replace any missing or damaged spikes, and securely fasten any that are loose.

Check for leaks. Holes in the gutters and cracked caulking in the seams are often sources of leaks. Replace old caulking after scraping it out with a chisel and drying the area thoroughly.

Check rivets. Make sure to also check the rivets on the downspout. They often come loose or fall out completely. Use a rivet gun to secure them or buy new rivets from your local hardware store.

Power wash your gutters

After you’ve inspected your gutters and downspouts and made necessary repairs, it’s time to power wash them. You can use a high-pressure nozzle attached to your water hose, and wash out each length of the gutter as you spray toward the drain outlet. This can get messy and you’ll need to be careful to not splatter mud on your house.

Check the downspouts

Make sure the downspouts are draining freely as you power wash them. If they’re not, you can use the hose to flush debris down them. You can also use a plumber’s snake to pull out and free debris.

Check the water runoff

Finally, make sure that water coming out of downspouts is diverted away from your home. Use splash blocks, irrigation pipe, or a downspout extension to keep water flowing freely away from the house.

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