Don’t Forget Your Gutters This Fall

Your annual roof maintenance should include gutter cleaning. By cleaning the gutters, you can prevent damage to other areas of your home.

It’s that time of year when minds fall into the gutter; the house gutter’s that is! The season’s worth of dirt, shingle runoff, and fallen leaves may be plugging up the gutter system surrounding your home rooftop. Home maintenance includes checking those gutters yearly.

Why is gutter cleaning important?

The gutters work in tandem with the roof system and downspouts to channel water and snow runoff away from the house foundations. If the gutters are clogged or cracked, the water will build up. When it does, it can spill down the walls, eroding the soil around your foundation. It can cause damage to sidewalk or patio surfaces, stain siding or seep beneath the siding, and penetrate the basement of your home. 

Basement cement is porous. If the water pools near the foundation, it is drawn into the cement causing damage. Over time the water will cause cracking or holes in the foundation. Likewise, patios can heave, and driveways crack with the freeze/thaw patterns of winter.

Water is heavy. If it sits in one place, the weight of the snow or rain blocked from movement in the gutters could cause gutters to break or fall off the roof. If there are no gutters, water can get sucked up by the underlying plywood of the roof. When this happens it can cause rot or mould.

How do I clean out my gutters?

If you want to tackle this yourself, you will need a safe ladder to reach above the roof eavestrough. You will also need gloves, safety glasses, a long-sleeved shirt or jacket, a small gardening trowel or rake, garden gloves, and a garden hose that will reach the roof.

Being safe is the first step. Wear safety clothing to protect yourself from flying debris, sharp edges, and underlying pests. Bees and wasps may have nests covered in the leaves at the bottom of the gutter. If possible, get someone to hold the ladder while you are on it. 

If you want, lay tarps or sheeting on the ground under the gutters. As you clean the debris, you can throw the debris down to the tarps to be cleaned up easily later. 

Scrape out any mud clots and clean screens leading to downspouts. Take the hose and blast water down the gutter. Watch to see if the water exits the downspout. Water running out the end of the downspout signals it is also clear of debris. Quite often, elbows and ends of downspouts will plug up. Try using a plumbers snake or thread the hose through the downspout turning on the water to clear plugs out. If that doesn’t work, you may have to push debris through with an implement or take it apart.

Gutter Guards & Cleaning Kits Will Help Keep Them Free Of Debris

Some people install gutter screening that collects larger debris, allowing water to run freely underneath the screen collection system. Over time, however, smaller debris can collect in those channels as well, and gutters still need cleaning. Gutter cleaning kits that can be attached to garden hoses or compressors. You can get them from hardware stores, or online. Experimentation will let you know what works best for your home.

Bungalow gutters are relatively easy to clean yourself, however, if your home is two or three levels, you may want to call a professional gutter cleaning service to access those high areas, as it can be hazardous the higher the roof line goes. 

The high winds this year have also been a problem. Often gutters and flashing pull free of the roof system. When this happens, they need to be fixed and remounted to the roof, so the water diversion system works properly.