Why it is Important to Maintain Your Home’s Gutters
Cleaning and maintaining your gutters is important to prolong their life and keep potential problems from arising from water damage. Gutters that are left full of tree debris can cause damage to the gutter system, water damage to parts of the exterior of the house, and can become breeding grounds for molds and mildew. Depending on what types of trees and how many trees are near your gutters will determine how often they should be cleaned out. Generally, gutters should be cleaned between two to four times per year. Additional cleanings may be necessary if birds or small animals build nests in the gutters.
Selecting the Right Ladder for the Job
Several types of ladders are available for different jobs, and it’s important to choose the correct type for optimal safety. Before climbing up any ladder, someone should be notified in case there is an accident. A fall from a roof can result in serious injury. For single-story homes, a four-legged, sturdy ladder is optimal. Because a bucket to collect the debris from the gutters is needed, choose a ladder that has a shelf that can support at least a five-gallon bucket. For two-story homes, a reliable extension ladder should be used. Always secure the bucket used for collecting debris with a lanyard. It is not ever recommended to use an orchard ladder for gutter cleaning because these ladders can be very unsteady and unbalanced.
What to Wear When Cleaning Your Roof's Gutters
Good work gloves should always be worn while cleaning gutters. Decomposing leaves in the gutter can contain bacteria and animal dropping. Gloves will also protect your hands from cuts caused by any torn metal parts of the gutter or from any twigs mixed in with the leaves. Always wear secure work shoes when using a ladder because sandals are never safe for this type of job.
Scoop the Goop
All of the leaves scooped out of the gutters make for great compost; so if you have a compost pile, put the gutter cleanings there. When clearing out the gutters, remember to also check the downspouts for clogs and blockages. If a downspout becomes blocked with leaves or other debris, rainwater will not drain properly from the gutters and can cause sagging. This can end up being a much more expensive fix than a simple cleaning. When water does not drain from the gutters, it’s likely that mildew will form making subsequent cleanings even tougher. To scoop the gutter debris, always use a plastic gutter scoop over a metal one as metal scoops can damage aluminum gutters. Buying an extension pole for your gutter scoop will reduce the number of times you will need to climb down and move your ladder.
Check Gutter Flow After You Scoop
After you have cleared out all of the leaves and twigs from the gutter, use a garden hose with normal water pressure and a spray nozzle attachment to both wash out and check the drainage of your gutters. Spray in the direction of the downspout so that any small, leftover debris is washed down and won’t remain in the gutters. In some houses, the downspout may be connected to an underground drain that leads to the street sewer system. If this is the case, the downspout should be disconnected at the bottom so that when you spray water to wash out the little debris, it does not collect or cause any blockages in the underground drain. If you find a clog in the downspout, use your garden hose without the nozzle attached and work it up the downspout from the bottom to loosen the clog.
Check for Leaks After Cleaning
If you notice any drips or leaks while spraying out your gutters after cleaning, be sure to identify and fix the problem areas. If the gutters have holes or leaks, then water damage to the house is more likely, and damage to the ground under the gutter can be unpleasant. Carefully check any areas that have been previously patched or repaired. Also, check all of the seams to ensure they are still properly fitted. Any old caulking can be scraped out with a chisel and should be thoroughly dried before being repaired. The best sealant to use in gutters is a new bead silicone to prevent leaks from reoccurring in that area.
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