You know the old line about how a stitch in time will save nine. Well it’s never more true than in the area of gutter maintenance. What can seem more harmless then a few leaves or twigs? Don’t kid yourself, they can do plenty of harm. Indeed, without regular cleaning, such oversight could lead to some pretty dire consequences and extremely expensive repairs. To help save you all that, these gutter cleaning tips tell you not only the importance of good gutter maintenance but how to clean gutters to avoid cost and inconvenience later.
5 Major Tips on Why and How to Clean Gutters
1. Your gutters, of course, are designed to control the off flow of water around your home. Accumulated debris prevents them from doing this effectively. Consider some of the problems that can arise from inadequate gutter maintenance:
- Leaking and clogged gutters are the number one cause of basement water problems. Roof water overflows and accumulates around the foundation. When this happens, leaking basements are a serious threat.
- The leaking gutters considered above can lead directly to cracked foundations, when excess water against the foundation wall weakens the footing. If you live in a climate with cold winter months, built-up water at the foundation can freeze and cause “frost-heave,” resulting in severe foundation cracking.
- Water over flow from clogged gutters cause moisture damage to the wood fascia around the house leading it to rot. The situation will rapidly deteriorate if the leak is not eliminated by cleaning the gutters.
- In the winter months of colder climates, ice dams can form on top of clogged gutters, leading directly to leaking roofs. As snow builds up across the top of the clogged gutter and freezes, the subsequent thaw cannot flow off properly and leads to roof and wall damage.
- Overflowing gutters can spill water on walks and driveways, in winter months, which leads to treacherous walkways as it freezes.
- Cracked driveways are another potential consequence of such over flowing water.
- Your newly installed gardens, grass or trees are put in hazard by the overflow from clogged gutters, too. Excess water can kill them.
- Many of those bugs, that you most want to keep well away from your home, love all that moisture generated by clogged gutters.
2. Safety always comes first. Cleaning out the clogged gutters of your house is not a DIY job if you are not comfortable with heights or don’t use tall ladders regularly. If so, we strongly suggest you look for help with the job. If you are cleaning the gutter yourself, be alert for potential hazards like electric lines and bee’s nests. Always work from the ladder, not from the roof, where there is increased hazard of falls.
3. Clean the gutters, using a ladder, work gloves and a hose. Start by clearing the gutters, starting from one end and moving methodically across to the other end. Be alert to any loose gutter sections, tightening them up as you go along. Keep a supply of long lag bolts handy. They won’t pull out like spikes, so you usually don’t have to do this more than once.
4. Spray spouts when you get to the end of the gutter. Use the hose down the gutter to be sure the way is clear. If the spout is clogged, clearing it out is necessary, but can be a chore. Start by trying to remove the debris from each end and flushing out the rest with the hose. If that doesn’t do the trick, you need to take the spout apart to get at the clogging trouble. In either case, once the spouts are clear, ensure the discharge end is extended 4 to 6 feet away from the house.
5. Installing gutter guards, if you don’t already have them, is a good idea to avoid a repeat performance in the future. You have several options to choose from: screens can be effective in the short run, but eventually the debris gets through. If this happens, the next cleaning is even more odious as the screens become part of the problem. It’s a lot of work in the short term, but a great labor saver in the long run, is to go with those leaf blocking guards that look like a metal louver. They install above the gutter and allow water to leak into the gutter while washing leaves over the side.
Even if you install guards, periodically check for trouble. Maintaining a clean gutter is the single most effective way to avoid a whole host of serious and expensive problems. Hope these gutter cleaning tips showed you not only the importance of good gutter maintenance but how to clean gutters to avoid cost and inconvenience later.