Gutters are an important feature on a house, collecting and directing water to flow away from your foundation. Just as important as the gutters themselves is regularly cleaning and preparing them for changing seasons so they continue to work properly. If you don’t take these maintenance steps, you run the risk of damaging the gutters, or worse, getting leaks in your roof or basement or cracks in your foundation.
Get rid of the gunk. Put on pair of gloves and climb a ladder to inspect the state of your gutters. Scoop out leaves, sticks and any other debris that has accumulated, and toss it on the ground. If you would rather, hold onto a bucket or trash bag to collect the gutter debris as you clean it out.
Check the downspouts. As you make your way around the house, pay extra attention to the downspouts. If these are clogged, they can prevent water from passing through, resulting in water buildup and possible sagging or mildew in the gutters. Take a look at the rivets on the downspouts as well, and replace or tighten them if needed with a rivet gun.
Don’t neglect the spikes. The spikes that run across the gutter from the outside edge to the roof help hold your gutters place so they can do their job. As you’re scooping out gunk, check the integrity of each spike. If one is broken or not securely attached, replace or refasten it.
Look for leaks. Gutter leaks are another area of concern that need to be addressed. This could be in the form of holes or cracks in the caulking. Mark these areas with a pencil or marker and then clean them thoroughly, removing any debris or old caulking. Once the area is dry, use silicone caulk to fill in the damaged areas.
Use a pressure washer for deep cleaning. After the majority of the gutter is gone and you’ve checked over the integrity of the gutters, use a pressure washer to thoroughly clean the gutters. Refer to the manufacturer’s directions for specific instructions on how to use the washer. Most pressure washers can be easily hooked up to a garden hose, and you won’t have to worry about the pressure damaging your gutters if everything is securely attached. This is also an ideal time to look for any leaks you may have missed.
Clean your gutters twice a year. The spring and fall – after the leaves have dropped – are the ideal times to give your gutters a once-over. Even if they don’t look that bad, scoop out any debris that has built up over the months. Doing this regularly will ensure that your gutters remain free of harmful debris and that damage potential is drastically reduced.
Don’t forget the importance of ladder safety. If you don’t have a spotter making sure your ladder is steady, be sure to choose a well-footed ladder that will remain stable. The safety of your gutters is important also, and you don’t want to damage them during the cleaning process. A stand-off that connects between your ladder and the roof will keep the weight of the ladder off your gutters and prevent any denting or other damage.