Many homeowners have not fully grasped the importance of cleaning their gutters. Debris will eventually clog these up and block the water’s path without regular attention. Instead of flowing down the pipes, water will accumulate on the gutters and go back up, causing major damage. Water can spill over to the yard and weaken the foundation. It can also flow to windows and cause flooding in the house.
Winters can be particularly troublesome as the water can turn into ice. The hardened icicles can become a hazard to the people passing through below them. The weight of the water may also cause the nails to move away from the fascia board, slowly reducing the gutter support. Some sections can fall off due to the heavy ice.
Clogs should be cleared before winter as these make the gutters freeze up quicker. You will notice ice developing on the roof right away. If ice dams are formed, then you may need to pay for costly repairs afterwards.
Periodic maintenance will make cleaning a fast and straightforward task. It will also avoid more difficult and expensive problems in the future. Read on to learn more about cleaning your gutters – when and how.
When Do My Gutters Need Cleaning?
Although some homeowners know how crucial gutter maintenance is, they are not entirely sure about the ideal cleaning schedule. The usual recommendation is to clean them up throughout the fall or whenever you notice that leaves are falling from trees in large quantities. It is also prudent to check for seeds, fruits, and flowers that could fall early in the summer or late in the spring. Even if these conditions are not present, it is still a good idea to clean the gutter if you notice any signs of common gutter problems.
How to Access the Gutters Safely
Beware that gutters cannot carry heavy loads such as a person’s weight. They might fall off if those trying to perform maintenance work lean in too much. Plan everything carefully to prevent accidents and gutter damage. Use gentle cleaning solutions as well.
It would be wise to use a step ladder when cleaning the gutters. This is a self-supporting ladder with an A-frame that will maintain balance. The weight will be on the ground instead of the gutters. Straight ladders are not recommended for this type of work. Make sure that you do not step higher than the second rung from the top. No matter which type of ladder you end up using, you must pay attention to nearby power lines and steer clear of these at all costs.
Gutter Cleaning Tools
Carry a bucket to the top of the ladder and hang it on one side. You can also place it on the roof if this is more convenient. This setup will reduce the mess while cleaning. It is also a good idea to wear a pair of waterproof gloves. If you don’t have one, then you can improvise by layering latex gloves and regular work gloves.
Most homes will have a plastic gardening trowel. This is a great tool for gutter cleaning because of its size and shape. Those who don’t have one can get one of their empty plastic milk jugs and cut this diagonally to create an improvised tool.
Avoid using sharp trowels for the gutters since these tools may create dents and other forms of damage that cannot be easily undone.
Ice is more likely to build up near areas with heavy amounts of debris in the winter. If you are trying to remove the ice, put heat tape inside the gutter and plug this in. Wait for it to warm up so that the ice can partially melt. It should be able to cut across the ice and eventually make the debris accessible. You can find heat tape in any hardware store.
Cleaning Your Gutters
You can utilize any tool to clean gutter clogs manually. If you encounter difficult debris to remove, you may want to pour water on it first to soften the mass. This should make removal easier after a few minutes. As for loose debris, you can quickly remove them while they are dry. There will still be bits and pieces left, so spray the gutter with your garden hose to remove these.
Cleaning Your Downspouts
Check whether water is coming out of the downspouts. If you can’t see any, you are probably dealing with a clog. Inspect the inlet to find debris since this is where you can usually find them. This is easily accessible, so you should be able to remove everything by hand.
Clogs don’t usually get to the downspouts themselves, but it can happen. You may have to take these apart by removing the screws in this scenario. Spray water inside these pieces to clear them up before assembling them again.
Check Your Gutter Slope
After clearing the downspout of dirt and debris, try to place the garden hose at the other end of the gutter from the downspout. This time, check how it drains when you turn the water on. If the water still refuses to drain correctly, then you may be dealing with an insufficient gutter slope. The minimum recommendation is a quarter of an inch for every ten feet. If yours is lesser than this, then water will not flow as readily as it should in your preferred direction. Gutter technicians can make the necessary adjustments for you. If you prefer to do it by yourself, then you will have to remove screws of the fasteners from the fascia board. Adjust the gutter until you get the desired slope and screw everything back to normal.