The How and Why of Summer Gutter Maintenance

Warm weather is here, and so are the summer projects! From falling leaves to spring rains, the gutter’s hard work is done — making summer the perfect time for proper maintenance. Gutters are an important component of a home; they help maintain the integrity of your foundation and should be cleaned twice a year to keep debris and other material from clogging the system, as well as preventing water from leaking into your home or building, which could cause extensive damage. Additionally, gutter maintenance eliminates standing water that creates an ideal breeding ground for insects like mosquitoes. This can help to reduce the spread of harmful diseases, such as West Nile, heartworm in your pets, and the recent increase in cases of Zika virus you have been seeing on the news. Health officials are expecting mosquitoes in the U.S. to have Zika virus within the next month, so gutter maintenance is more important now than ever!

In addition to these benefits to your family’s health and home, with regular maintenance a gutter system can last 20 to 30 years. This month’s edition of ‘The Advantage’ brings you a great checklist of summer maintenance on your gutters to keep them holding strong and doing their job year after year.

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  1. Give your gutter system a thorough cleaning. Use gloves to remove debris like sticks, needles, leaves, and any other remnants. Remove any empty nests. Don’t forget to check for wasp nests as well; if found, call a pest control company for safe removal.
  2. Scoop out mud with a trowel if necessary.
  3. Clean with a brush and gentle abrasive or soap. As you scrub, watch for areas that seem especially troubled and go back to them when you’re looking at roofing drainage. Keep in mind that areas with a lot of mold, algae, or moss could signal a drainage problem.
  4. Once they’re cleaned, flush the entire system with a garden hose. This will help locate leaks, which we will discuss later.
  5. Use the hose to wash out your downspouts to make sure they’re not clogged. Note, downspouts aren’t meant to withstand the same water pressure as a house drain, so just run some water down; it’s not necessary to shoot water at it.
  6. While you’re up on the ladder cleaning, it’s a good idea to also check out your roof. Your gutter system and your roofing work together. Make sure that you fix any areas of poor repair, and watch for gutter problems that could be causing issues on your roof.

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After the gutters are cleaned, take the time for a good visual inspection to see if and where there are any obvious areas that need attention right away. Walk around your entire gutter system looking for loose or hanging fixtures, clogs or leaks. Move sagging areas upward with pliers. Make a note of rusty areas or holes, and ensure that you replace extremely damaged areas and fix gaps or leaks. If you question your inspection or see any major problem areas, call our service professionals to conduct an inspection. If the damage is extensive, replacement of the gutter system may be needed.

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The gutter should be sloped towards the downspout, about 1/8″ per foot to keep water flowing. If not sloped properly, water can collect in the gutter and eventually overflow into the structure. Overflowing water is generally the cause of basement leaks.

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Follow the flow of water out of the gutter to see where it goes. If you made any exterior improvements to your home or changes in landscaping, it may have shifted the drainage patterns that water from the gutter follows. You can mimic rainfall with a garden hose and check to ensure that the water is flowing completely away from the home’s foundation and is not creating puddles in areas around the yard that may create mulch washout or breed insects, especially mosquitoes.

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Run a bit of water through the gutter to find smaller leaks. If you find a leak, you can either call in a gutter professional or fix it yourself with a patch of metal flashing adhered with roofing cement, or by applying gutter or silicone caulking around a clean, dry piece of gutter. If your gutter is sagging, it could be on the threshold of collapsing. The gutter sags from the weight of debris or from not being installed properly. A broken spike or hanger may also be the cause; installing new hardware can repair these components.

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Gutter guards close off the ends of the gutter and have a screen over the top, making it difficult for animals, insects, leaves, and other unwanted pests to get in. They can be installed by a professional and will prevent clogging and other related issues. Depending on your surroundings, gutter guards can also make routine cleaning easier by eliminating excess leaves, sticks, and animal nests that often find their way into your uncovered gutter.

Summer generally sees less precipitation than other parts of the year, making it the ideal time to work on long-term gutter maintenance. If you’re thinking of installing new guttering or downspouts, now is the perfect time to do so. Give us a call and we will be happy to come out and give both our professional assessment and an estimate for seamless gutter.