Gutters are the guardian angels of your home, protecting it from water damage around the clock. They probably don't get the appreciation they deserve most of the time. The smart homeowner should inspect gutters and downspouts regularly to make sure they're performing well. Leaves and debris can cause gutters to clog so they should be cleaned at least twice a year -- in the fall after leaves have dropped and also in the spring. If you are the DIY type you can get up on a ladder with a bucket and trowel yourself, or hire a trustworthy handyman to clean your gutters and make sure they are in good working order.
Good Gutters are Great for Your Home
Gutters and downspouts are designed to collect rainwater and direct it away from your home. Well maintained and efficient gutters are essential for good drainage around your house. Blocked or clogged gutters pose a real danger to the structural integrity of your house. If rainwater is not being properly directed away from your home, it can cause damage to insulation, foundations, basements, flashing, siding, walls and windows. And water damage is often hard to spot—it can build up in hidden areas until it becomes a major problem that can be costly to fix. If gutters or downspouts get blocked, don't put off dealing with the problem—don't give water damage a chance to start. Gutter clogs need to be dealt with promptly. You wouldn't neglect a sink drain that was clogged inside your home; you should treat gutters and downspouts with the same care. If you don't want to unclog the gutters yourself, call a contractor as soon as possible before you get caught unawares by a heavy rainfall.
Silent Spring Danger
Most people are aware that they should clean gutters at least once in the fall when trees shed their leaves and end up stuck in gutters. But savvy homeowners also know to clean gutters in the spring. As trees start turning green and budding, they are shedding husks, blossoms, tiny twigs, pollen and sap. If this lighter debris builds up in your gutters it can cause big problems. If it rains, all the sap, pollen and flower debris in your gutters is going to turn into a sticky mess that's a perfect recipe for a gutter clog. If you have trees anywhere around your property, or on the street outside, you should be ready to spring clean your gutters after buds and seedlings have fallen from trees. It's time to call a handyman or get out the ladder yourself and start cleaning.
Make a Clean Sweep
If you plan on doing your own gutter maintenance try to get up there at least twice a year (preferably three or four times) to clean your gutters. Make sure you place your ladder securely before you climb up. And never place a ladder directly against your downspout or gutter; this will cause stress and possibly breakage. For safety's sake, don't get up on the ladder on a wet or windy day. You don't know what you're going to find up in your gutters, so always wear waterproof gloves. You will need a bucket and a rake or trowel. Also, a stiff-bristled brush a useful tool to remove gutter debris that has solidified. Once you've removed the debris from the gutters, a garden hose can be used to wash out the dirt, pollen and sap. Cleaning gutters is a messy job, and will probably take you a few hours to do thoroughly, so budget your time accordingly— you don't want to get up on a ladder two days in a row if you can avoid it.
Check Your Gutters
To protect your home, gutters need to be in good repair. While you're cleaning your gutters, it's a great time to inspect them for signs of damage that have occurred since the last cleaning, especially if you've had storms. Check for loose gutter hangers or loose gutters. If gutters are loose, their pitch has changed, and that can cause water overflow and/or water getting trapped in your gutters. Check for leaking joints in your gutters—they should be sealed as soon as possible. And while you're up there on the ladder, inspect the fascia board to see if it is in good condition. The fascia board is designed to block water from your roof and your house's interior. If the fascia board feels soft and spongy to the touch, or paint on the board is flaking, that can be a symptom of water damage due to gutter clogs or water getting behind your gutters.
Guard Your Gutters
If you find that cleaning and inspecting your gutters has become a chore that you dread, one option is to have a gutter guard (also known as a leaf filter or gutter cover) installed. The purpose of the gutter guard is to protect your gutters from leaves, twigs and spring debris so that they don't become blocked or clogged. There are several varieties of gutter guards on the market, including guards made from plastic, sponge or metal. If you choose a metal gutter guard, solid, hinged or micro-mesh guards are available. If you've had gutter-clog problems before, or if you have a large number of trees on your property, gutter filters are worth considering. Do some research into the various kinds of gutter guard systems to see what would work best for your home.
Do you need to have your gutters cleaned or repaired?
- Use the BizPals Service Directory to find top handymen or gutter contractors who can keep your gutters in great shape.
- Use our handy hiring guide for handymen to ease you through the process. You'll be able to keep your feet on the ground and relax, without worrying about clogs or water damage when storms come.