Gutters protect your siding, grading, and prevent water in your basement.
I corresponded with Rod Collins of Zone Zero Home Inspections, in Kansas City, Missouri, to get his perspective on how cleaning your gutters helps prevent structural problems. Rod mentioned that there is rarely an inspection where he does not mention a problem caused by the home’s gutter system. Usually full of debris, downspouts too short, or sections not installed correctly.
“The most common cause of gutter related issues is due to the lack of maintenance” he said.
Full gutters, clogged downspouts, and detached gutters are the most common problems. Somthing a simple clean-out or repair would resolve, and would have prevented costly repairs to other systems.
If climbing a ladder is not a problem for you, then these 6 easy steps to cleaning your gutters the right way should be no problem. If you have ladder challenges, there’s an easy, one-step-solution for you – call me, and I’ll put you on the schedule for gutter cleaning service.
How can cleaning your gutters prevent future problems?
Interrupting the PROPER flow of water is a serious problem. When gutters fill with leaves and other debris (like granules from the roof surface), it builds up, clogging the downspouts. If your gutter have detached from the supporting structure, or were not installed properly, water can seep behind the gutter and do major damage to fascia, and support structures.
Eventually the water spills over the top, and down the siding, ending up near the foundation. Gradually the water seeps down through the soil and into the basement.
Standing water, or un-diverted water can cause all sorts of damage that may not appear to be from a failed gutter system.
- foundation cracks, and bowing foundation walls.
- water intrusion into the basement.
- rotting fascia, siding, doors jambs, thresholds, doors, and windows.
- un-diverted water can damage landscaping, and erodes the grading around the foundation.
Even in the winter, clogged gutters can cause ice-dams at the edge of the roof, causing icicles that can actually injure people below. Remember Ralphie in “A Christmas story?”
To prevent damage to your home (and icicles from dropping on your head, or breaking your glasses), your gutters should be cleaned at least twice a year. Usually in the spring and fall, but more often if you have recently replaced your roof, when a storm blows by, or you have overhanging trees near your house.
Here are the 6 steps to cleaning your gutters the right way…..
- Choose a time when your work area will be shaded, like early morning, or early evening. Metal gutters can get very hot to the touch. Also, in the winter, removing an ice dam is difficult and can be dangerous. However, much of this would be avoided if your gutters are cleaned out before winter arrives.
- Use a sturdy extendable ladder, and make sure it’s securely anchored on the ground. It should also be level. You don’t want the ladder tipping over when you’re up top. If it doesn’t feel secure, you can always get a ladder stabilizer from your local hardware store.
- Wear some old clothes, a long sleeve shirt and rubber gloves. Cleaning your gutters is a dirty smelly job, and you don’t want to ruin your nice clothes, or cut your hands with sharp debris.
- Spread a tarp, or large plastic sheet around the foundation of the house to collect the debris and prevent it from damaging landscaping. If you can, the best way is to put the debris in a bucket and hand it down to a helper. This is how we clean gutters, and we have found it to be the cleanest way.
- You can either use your hand, or a tool to remove the debris. I use the Gutter Getter, it allows me to slide under the gunk and lift it out. Or you can use a spatula, or anything that is plastic (so you don’t damage your gutters) that will fit, and help you lift and remove the debris.
- After you have removed the debris from the gutters, use a hose to clear out the rest of the debris. This will make sure the gutters and downspouts are clean, and water flows uninterrupted. It’s also a good time to check for leaks and other types of damage.
- If there is any gutter damage, a simple repair may resolve the matter, or in extreme cases, you may need them replaced. In either case, it’s probably best that you hire a professional.
Gutter cleaning is not that difficult, but it takes time, good balance, and a few hours out of your day. In the end you will definitely feel a sense of accomplishment, and satisfaction.
However, if all of this seems too hard, or you just don’t want to spend the hours cleaning gutters yourself, give us a call. We would be happy to help.