Your gutter system does more than keep your roofline from becoming a waterfall during heavy rain. It also prevents the ground immediately surrounding your foundation from becoming waterlogged -- thwarting basement leaks and structural problems. Clogged gutters can even cause water to leak under your roof eaves, leading to wood rot, mold, and moisture problems.
Cleaning your gutters twice a year is an easy way to prevent expensive repairs down the road. While you can do this yourself, if your roof is higher than one story, you’re better off hiring a pro.
What’s in it for you?
- Fewer repairs
- Property damage prevention
To Clean Your Gutters
- Gear up - you’ll want to wear work gloves to protect your hands from sharp metal parts or screws that may be sticking out in the troughs of the gutters. You’ll also want to put on safety glasses to protect your eyes.
- Safety first - make sure to use proper precautions when using a ladder. Never go beyond the highest labeled step, and don’t use an aluminum ladder near power lines.
- Equipment prep - attach two buckets to the ladder using wire hooks - one for holding gutter debris, and another to carry your tools. Make sure the area below your gutters is clear. You may want to put down a drop cloth for a speedy cleanup.
- Clear leaves and debris from the gutters - use a garden trowel or specially made gutter cleaner to scoop up loose debris and dump them in the bucket. You’ll want to start at the lower end of the gutter and work away from the downspout. If you’re a gardener, decomposed leaves make great mulch or compost!
- Keep your eyes out for roof granules - shingles are covered with granules to add weight and protect them from the elements. If you notice granules in your gutters, you should have your roof inspected by a pro.
- Flush your gutters - once you’ve removed larger debris, a good washing will help clear finer materials. You can use a gutter-cleaning attachment on your hose or an on-off high-pressure nozzle. Flush the entire length of your gutters, working toward the downspout. This can get messy! Use care not to splatter mud along the side of your house. A stiff scrub brush can help remove encrusted dirt.
- Flush the downspout - if water doesn’t drain freely through the downspout, try setting the hose to full pressure to flush it out. If it’s really clogged, you can use a plumbing snake to clear the blockage. Check the downspout strainer and clean it as necessary.
- Check for standing water - if you notice standing water after flushing the gutter and downspout, or if water is draining slowly, it may not be sloped correctly. Gutters should decline ¼ of an inch every 10 feet toward the downspout.
Gutter Repair - What to Look For
- Make sure gutters are in good shape - check for corrosion, joint separation, loose fasteners, or missing parts. You’ll also want to check for holes or cracked caulking, which can lead to leaks.
- Look for signs of overflow - if you notice streaks or watermarks along the outside of your gutters, it’s usually an indication the gutters are overflowing when it rains and should be cleaned. If your gutters are clean and still overflow during a normal rainstorm, consider installing larger gutters - they’re likely undersized.
- Check for rust - if you notice rusting, it’s likely time for a replacement. Rusting is usually an indication of very old gutters. New gutters are made of rust-free aluminum or vinyl material. Not ready to replace? Sand them down before painting with a high-quality primer and rust-inhibiting paint.
- Inspect gutter spikes or hangers - gutter spikes pass through the gutter, through the fascia (the board behind the gutter), and into the rafter. Over time, the weight of debris can pull spikes out of the rafter and cause gutters to sag. Gutter screws and hangers offer a more secure alternative that are less likely to pull free. Support hangers should be spaced no more than 24 inches apart.
- Check your rivets - rivets are used to hold multiple gutter sections together, turning them into one long gutter. Rivets along downspouts are particularly susceptible to coming loose or dropping out.
- Consider attaching a gutter guard - guards can help keep larger debris out of the trough. While helpful, some debris will eventually settle through the guards, so you’ll still need to schedule regular cleaning.
- Invest in a gutter splash block or downspout extender - this is a very important element of your gutter system, which keeps water from digging a trench next to your home, prevents standing water from causing structural and moisture problems, and directs water away from your foundation. Your downspout should extend at least 5 feet away from your foundation wall.
Grading around the home
While you’re taking inventory of your gutters, it’s a great time to check the slope of your yard leading away from the foundation. Your lawn should decrease 1-inch every foot for at least 10 feet around all sides of your home. The easiest way to prevent water from draining toward your home is to bring in new soil and raise the ground level near the foundation.
Put that water to work!
An excellent way to repurpose roof runoff is to use a downspout extension in combination with a swale or rain garden. Rain gardens capture, store, and treat stormwater runoff, allowing it to replenish the local water table. Many municipalities even offer rebates to homeowners who help keep stormwater out of storm drains.
Don’t want to DIY? Call us at 844-99-SUPER to schedule an expert to do it for you.