Gutters protect the home’s roof and foundation by moving water away. The gutters also trap debris, however, so they do need to be cleaned on a regular basis. For homeowners, gutter cleaning should be done at least once per year. Though if there are trees that hang over the home, it may be necessary to clean the gutters more frequently. Along with gutter cleaning, it’s a good idea to do at least a cursory inspection and make sure the gutters remain in good shape. Read on for a simple and straightforward 5 step guide to gutter cleaning.
Set Up Access to the Gutters
It’s not possible to clean the gutters from the ground. Water can be sprayed in, but it’s hard to see what’s happening and whether there are any issues with the gutters. Instead, homeowners will need a ladder that provides access to the gutters. The ladder should be tall enough for the person to be at eye level with the gutters or a little higher. Clear the ground around the entire home to make sure there is access for the ladder at any part of the gutters. Also, clear out around the downspouts to make sure there is nothing blocking the flow of water once it reaches the ground.
Being on a ladder can be dangerous, so safety precautions should be taken. Never stand on the top step of the ladder and always make sure the ladder is sturdy before use. If possible, have someone else nearby to keep an eye on the ladder, just in case anything happens. Do not stack ladders, use an a-frame ladder leaning instead of opened, or use a ladder in any other way that’s inconsistent with its direct use. Once on the ladder, take a look at the roof along with the gutters, and if there are any issues noticed, hiring a roofer right away might be a good idea to prevent more serious problems.
Carefully Remove Large Debris During Gutter Cleaning
Large debris will need to be removed by hand. Debris can consist of leaves, branches, and other debris that could get on the roof in high winds. It’s recommended to wear gloves while doing this to avoid being injured by anything that may be in the gutters. The large debris may be easy to remove or could be wet and clumped together if it has rained recently. Any debris removed can be bagged and thrown away. Once the largest debris has been removed, scrape or collect smaller debris that could combine to block the flow of water in the gutters. As each section is finished, move the ladder to begin on the next section. Never lean on the ladder, as this could cause it to become unstable.
Inspect and Repair the Gutters
With the majority of the debris removed, it’s time to inspect the gutters. Look for any areas that are rusting, if the gutters are metal, or any holes, no matter what materials the gutters are made from. It is possible for homeowners to repair the gutters on their own. The repair does depend on the material and it’s best to match any materials when doing a repair. Clean the part that needs to be repaired thoroughly to make sure the repair will work. For metal, roofing cement is used as an adhesive. For PVC gutters, silicone may be used to plug any holes and make sure they do not leak or get worse with time. Always follow the instructions for the repair kit to make sure it’s done right. This will help prevent the repair from failing or from the problem getting worse.
Check for Sagging Gutters
After any repairs are done, take a moment to see if any of the gutters are sagging. It’s possible to detect this from a distance, as it can be more difficult to see up close on a ladder. The gutters should be angled slightly to help with water flow. However, if they are starting to sag in the middle or one end seems lower than it should, repairs may be needed. The repairs can depend on how much sagging is occurring. Homeowners can purchase the items needed to do the repair on their own. It is important to follow the directions carefully and ensure the gutters are still installed at a slight angle. If the home is damaged where the gutters attach, it is necessary to repair the home first, then reinstall the gutters.
Sagging gutters can create a number of issues. Rain can collect, meaning it ends up overflowing from the gutters and can cause damage to the roof. If the gutters are holding too much water due to the sagging, they can eventually fail and collapse. This could lead to damage to the siding on the home where the gutters are attached. On top of this, standing water in the sagging portions of the gutter can harbor pests, cause mold growth, and more. It’s always a good idea to fix sagging gutters as soon as they’re noticed instead of putting it off.
Rinse and Watch for Issues While Gutter Cleaning
After thoroughly cleaning and repairing the gutters, it’s time to test them and see how well they work. Testing can bring out problems that may not have been apparent looking at the gutters and allow for them to be fixed before they become worse. To test the gutters, use a hose to push water through them. From the top of the gutters, see if there are any areas that tend to hold water. From the ground, look for potential leaks that can be caused by holes, improper connections, or other issues. If any issues are detected, repairs should be done immediately, before they get worse.
Cleaning the gutters is something that homeowners can do each year to help prolong the life of the gutters, in addition, protect their roof and foundation. By following the steps here, it’s easy to clean the gutters properly. In addition, make any necessary repairs, and test the gutters to ensure they are working correctly. If any issues are found, fix them quickly. This way, the gutters are always ready for whatever the local weather will bring.
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