Gutter maintenance is the last chore that any homeowner wants to do. However, overlooking this task can potentially cost thousands of dollars in damage to your foundation, crawl space, basement, landscaping, siding and wood trim.
A gutter drainage system directs rain runoff from the roof large surface area away from the house. To function, the gutters and downspouts must be free of debris. A gallon of water weighs more than 8 pounds. When gutters are clogged, this weight can cause gutters to sag and pull away from the house allowing water to run behind them. Also, when clogged, water will pour over the edge of the gutters dumping large amounts of water near your foundation.
Therefore, gutter maintenance is very important to protect your home. Here are tips to help you with this task:
Take Safety Precautions First. Before starting, make sure that you are wearing long sleeves, safety glasses, a dust mask and heavy work gloves. Use a sturdy ladder that is extended above the eaves. Place the ladder on a firm and level surface. Do not reach beyond the side rails on the ladder.
Clean the Roof. Before cleaning the gutters, use a rake or leaf blower to remove leaves, pine straw and twigs off the roof. This debris will likely end up in the gutters during the next rainstorm.
Clean the Gutters. Start at a downspout removing debris with a trowel or plastic scoop placing it in a bucket or dumping onto a plastic sheet on the ground. A stiff brush may be needed to scrub hardened debris. To remove the finer dirt and shingle debris, flush the gutter using a stream of water from a garden hose.
Pay Attention to Downspouts. Clogs are frequently found where the downspouts attach to the gutters preventing water from draining through the downspout. If a clog is stuck in the downspout, use a garden hose to flush the debris. If this method is unsuccessful, use a plumber’s snake to free up the debris.
Divert Water Away from the House. Water from downspouts will erode the ground adjacent to the house and potentially cause foundation problems. Concrete or plastic sloped splash blocks can be used to direct water exiting the downspouts at least four feet away from the house. Downspout extenders are an option. Another alternative is to install irrigation pipe onto the end of the downspout and route it underground further out into the yard.
Slope Gutters Toward Downspouts. After cleaning gutters, use a water hose to test if the gutters are sloped correctly. If there is standing water in your gutters after shutting the water off, then they are not appropriately sloped. Gutters should slope ½ inch for every 10 feet to move water towards the downspouts. To make adjustments, detach the hangers and reattach.
Check that Gutters are Attached to the Fascia. There are several methods to attach gutters to the fascia. The fascia is the board behind the gutter. Regardless of the method, support should be installed at least every 2 feet. Spikes or support hangers can loosen over time from the weight of water in the gutters. Gutter screws are preferable to gutters spikes.
Inspect Gutters for Leaks. Run water from a garden hose into the gutters to check for leaks at joints and seams. At leaking joints, scrape old caulking off and clean thoroughly. Make sure that the area is dry before applying new gutter sealant or silicone caulk to both sides of all joints.
Check Fascia, Soffit and Eaves for Rot. Gutters that are clogged or that have come loose from the fascia can overflow and can cause rot to the fascia, soffit and eaves. If these boards are rotted, they need to be replaced.
Maintain your gutters to protect your home. Clean your gutters twice a year. If there are overhanging trees, you will need to clean more often. Also, cleaning may be necessary after major storms. If you don’t feel comfortable cleaning your gutters, contact a professional handyman.
If you have questions about your home’s foundation or foundation repairs, contact Atlantic Foundation and Repair at 919-855-0855.