Cleaning and maintaining your home is certainly important, but it can also be a hassle. Look no further than the edge of your roof to find one of the greatest hassles of all: gutters. They collect the water that streams down your roof and direct it away from your home. Your gutters keep you protected from drips when walking under the edge of the roof and, more importantly, help protect your exterior walls from water damage. Leaves and other debris can easily get caught in the gutters and, over time, your gutters may require some maintenance. Read on to learn how to deal with both situations.
First, before you start cleaning out those gutters, here are a few things to take note of:
- You should clean your gutters out at least twice a year. If your home is directly beneath a tree or the area you live in gets a lot of storms, you may need to clean out your gutters more frequently.
- Only clean out your gutters yourself if you're sure you can do it safely from a ladder or the roof. If not, hire a professional to take care of it for you.
- Never take on this task in icy, wet, or windy conditions.
- If your roof is higher than one story, it's probably best to hire a professional. You put yourself at risk by working unsecured at a great height.
- Wear non-slip shoes if you choose to work from the roof, and always wear safety glasses.
Gutter cleaning can be taken care of in three relatively simple steps. First, using a narrow trowel, scoop out as much debris as possible. Avoid pushing debris into the drain by starting at and working away from it. This process will be much easier if the debris is slightly damp; dry debris is more difficult to scoop. You probably won't want all that extra debris lying around your house, so it's best to collect it in heavy-duty trash bags.
Step two involves blasting away any remaining debris in the gutters with a hose. This is best done using a high-pressure nozzle that is mounted on a simple garden hose and can be turned on and off at the nozzle itself. This time, work toward the drainpipe, washing the remaining debris down through it. Any particularly stubborn patches of dirt can be removed with a stiff scrub brush.
Finally, water may not drain freely through the drainpipes. If that's the case, you may need to use a plumber's auger (often called a snake) to unclog the pipe. Run the auger from the bottom of the drainpipe and pull the debris down through it.
Cleaning out your gutters provides a perfect opportunity to inspect them for damage. Here are a few things you can do to repair damaged gutters:
- Sagging gutters can usually be fixed by replacing damaged or adding new gutter hangers or brackets.
- To fix a hole in the gutter, cut a patch out of a piece of tin. Then, use roofing cement to secure it in place over the hole.
- To fix a leaky seam, disassemble the pieces of gutter that form that seam. Then, remove the old caulk, apply new caulk, and reassemble the seam.
If worse comes to worst, you may need to replace gutter sections or even the entire gutter system. However, this more difficult job will probably be averted by regular cleanings and maintenance, as described above.