Improving the safety of your home includes the prevention of water damage. Hence, a weekly routine of checking some trouble areas like gutters could save you many required major construction repair expenses once the situation is not salvageable. As part of your regular home inspection it is suggested that you do the following:
- Check gutters and clean the debris within at regular intervals
- If your gutters are prone to being filled with debris, consider purchasing gutter shields
- Downspouts should be properly extended from the house by at least six feet to aid in carrying water away from the base of the house
While gutters may be considered inconvenient, they are also necessary because they are essential in every kind of structure. Their significance comes in the form of preventing water from running slantwise on the windows and doors. Gutters also stop water from going down the sides of your house by channeling water away from your home’s foundation, minimizing the possibility of your house being washed away eventually if this situation occurs more often than necessary.
Before anything else, you should consider your safety while trying to clean gutters or doing some repairs on them from the roof. This is rather dangerous because it places you on the rooftop where the gutter is beneath you. Looking at it from this particular angle, the cleaning and repair will require you to bend down, which mean defying the pull of gravity downward. Not to mention the probability of having some dizzy spells, especially if the unstable height from the ground is eight feet or higher. This scene spells a perfect disaster that could end up in an accident. It is firmly recommended then that you get yourself a firm ladder that you could step on when cleaning or repairing your home’s gutters. A good ladder should have the appropriate height you need in order to do the job effectively without having to stand on the last two top steps.
Before actually doing a repair or cleanup of the gutters, be sure to have the materials and equipment you need in order to perform the job.
The said equipment and tools/materials are as follows:
- A Ladder
- A Bucket that has a metal hook which is used to attach it to the ladder
- A Narrow trowel or gutter scoop
- A Garden hose
- Paper towels or cloth rags
- Rubber work gloves for your hands
To be able to know how to proceed with the repairs and cleanings of gutters, you should be aware of some facts about what gutters are really like. Gutters in general are made of vinyl, steel, or aluminum. Conservative kind of gutters may even be made of copper or wood. Since wood is a very absorbent material that could easily be frayed out by the constant passing of water, wooden gutters need more upkeep and are not commonly used nowadays. Wooden gutters could still be seen and are sometimes used in some restoration or historical purposes.
There are four various ways on how gutters are hanged or mounted to structures. The method of mounting could be practically established when you get to see them when doing repairs or cleaning. It is important to know the particular way on how a gutter is hanged or mounted due to adjustments that will be made or are needed when repair times come. The four methods on how gutters are mounted are as follows:
Inside Hanger Method – straps on both sides of the gutter girth are mounted inside the gutter. The nails or screws are nailed all the way through the straps from within the inside of the gutter unto the fascia board.
- Outside Hanger method – the hangers are positioned on the fascia board at the rear of the gutters. The gutters are placed inside the hangers
- Spike and Ferrule Method – spikes are impelled through the gutters into the fascia board. The ferrules are placed to retain the correct breadth of the gutter and stop the spikes from dragging against it and bending it
- Strap Hanger Method – the straps that grip the gutters are secured beneath the shingles into the roof’s outer layer
It is likewise important to remember that if rainwater does not drain down your gutters, the overflow of water on the gutters’ exterior side could eventually create erosion on the place where the water hits the ground. The constant beating of water on concrete will eventually corrode it, so you could just imagine what happens if the soil does not have any protection at all. Should the water fall or run at the rear of the gutters, damage is imminent to your eaves, fascia boards, and roof sheathing.
Gutters generally overflow because their drains are clogged up. This means that regular cleaning is necessary and more cost-effective. Gutters which are unattended and left to overflow for an unspecified period of time may, at one point, require major repairs that are expensive since it would not only require changing the gutters but will also necessitate changing other water damaged structural materials such as doors, windows, etc.
Gutter cleaning must be made bi-annually or twice a year during the fall and spring period. However, if you could only do cleaning of the gutters once a year then it is advisable that you do it after the leaves stop falling during autumn/fall. Actual cleaning must be done on a dry day where it is more convenient and relaxed. Loose dry leaves and tiny twigs could be taken out by using a handheld blower. Manufacturers of blowers offer special attachments made particularly for the said purpose. The grab and drop method is suggested for practical reasons because it does not need any equipment, gasoline and electricity investment. It also works effectively like some other forms of gutter cleaning techniques.
If mud or silt were present within the gutters, cleaning them would have to be done after a rain so that the hard and packed mud is damp and could easily be removed. Do not attempt to flush the mud through the downspouts by using a strong spray of water from the garden hose because this might leak or splatter your house with muddy water. It is better to inspect your gutters as you clean them to see whether holes, corrosion, rust or loose joints are present. Mark these problem or trouble spots with tape or with a pen so you could easily spot them when repair is to be done. Use rubber work gloves to protect your hands from any scrapes. A water bucket with a metal hanging hook must be attached to the ladder to save you time from having to go up and down the ladder in order to get the needed tools for cleaning and repair. After cleaning the gutters of rubbish, flush them with a strong spray of water from the garden hose to remove any remaining dirt and to see how well the gutters and downspouts are draining.
To prevent any gutter and downspout clog ups, install inexpensive metal or plastic screens to prevent leaves from entering the gutters by trapping them on top of the screens. Solid gutter shields, which could span the breadth of gutters, are more expensive. This permits water to enter the gutter but stops leaves and other foreign debris from going within it.
Leaks could be fixed by putting sealants. However, if a joint is loosely attached, remove it completely, clean it properly, annd reattached it with an appropriate sealant. Repairing corrosions and patching of gutters is done by cleaning the area to be patched and by using roof cement to seal the rust.
Removing the blockages from the downspouts is suggested. Work from the bottom upwards and not from the top portion because this might cause the blockage to be packed in tighter. You could likewise remove packed debris by using a strong spray of water from the garden hose. Before doing this make sure to put a cloth rag on the downspout and twirl it around the hose to prevent water from splashing back on your face.
Another problem with gutters is that they sag from the passage of time due to the changing weather conditions. The sagging portions could be reinstalled by re-nailing them back in place or putting in new screws to secure them tightly.
While it may be true that cleaning and maintaining your gutters and downspouts could remediate problems with water damage, further prevention of water damage due to damaged gutters and downspouts, a sump pump system may assist in keeping unwanted water at bay especially in your basement. Battery operated sump pumps are better that electric powered sump pumps because in cases of power failure they are still operable. In cases where a battery operated sump pump is not available, you could use a generator to run it.
Before the beginning of the wet season, make sure to test if your sump pumps in good working condition.