You know your roof needs regular maintenance. After winter or after a heavy storm, you check your shingles to find signs of warping, bending, breakage, and more. If you find any problems, you fix or replace the offending shingle so your roof can stay dry and strong for the rest of the year.
However, if you want to keep your home sturdy and beautiful, you have to go beyond your roof when you perform exterior maintenance. You have to give your gutters a little TLC as well. You may not think of these troughs as important features-after all, they only direct water away from your home-but they play a more vital role than you realize.
We'll tell you more about how your gutters work, why you should maintain them, and when and how to do so below.
Why Your Gutters Need Cleaning
If your home didn't have gutters, where would all the water on your roof go after a storm? It would drip off the eaves and into the ground below. This might not seem like a big deal-won't the water quickly evaporate anyway?
However, if you experience days or weeks of rainstorms without a lot of sun, that water would pool around your home's foundation and seep into your window wells. Eventually, erosion or pressure would cause a leak. That leak wouldn't just undermine your home's structural integrity either. If it becomes large enough, it could flood your basement or crawlspace and destroy everything stored there.
So, as you can see, your gutters perform a critically important function in your home. However, they can't do their job correctly if they fill with leaves and other debris. The debris clogs the drain, which means your gutters overflow with water. During warmer months, this overflow could lead to flooding as outlined above. During the winter, the clog could lead to ice dams that damage your roof.
When to Clean Your Gutters
You can easily prevent the problems illustrated above by keeping your gutters debris free. But how do you know when these features need cleaning? You probably don't have the time to climb a ladder every weekend to check on them, and you might not want to risk your safety that frequently.
Luckily, you don't have to examine your gutters that often, and you don't have to do this chore yourself. You can have a professional do it for you. Call your gutter experts on any of the following occasions:
The beginning of spring after the snow melts off your roof:
The snow may have eroded particulates off your roof or pulled last year's leaves into your gutters. Have your professionals give them a thorough spring cleaning.
The beginning of fall:
Your trees start dropping leaves like crazy in September, so you should clear your gutters before the rains and snows hit. Leaves prove less difficult to remove when dry. And if lots of leaves continue to fall, have your maintenance crew come back once a week to keep your gutters clear.
Any other time of year when the debris in your gutter becomes visible:
A couple leaves won't cause a catastrophe. But if so many items fill your gutter that they become visible from the ground, schedule a cleaning with your preferred professionals.
Follow a similar timetable if you plan to maintain your gutters on your own. Just make sure you have a sturdy ladder and the proper safety equipment, including heavy boots, gloves, and a hard hat.
How to Clean and Repair Your Gutters
Again, you don't have to clean or maintain your gutters by yourself. You can have a professional do it for you. But if you feel confident about your abilities and you have the proper safety equipment, you can do this chore yourself by following these steps:
Put on your safety equipment.
Consider wearing a dust mask if you have particularly full gutters. Gutters often contain spores, dust, and other debris that could make breathing uncomfortable.
Find a buddy to spot you.
You'll need someone nearby to steady the ladder while you work. You'll also need a person to call
to for help in case you fall or otherwise injure yourself.
Use your gloved hands to clear the loose debris like leaves, sports equipment, etc.
Then use a garden trowel to remove dirt and other contaminants.
Spray the gutter clean with the hose.
Leave the roof and dispose of the leaves and other debris.
You can also do simple repairs, like screwing your gutters onto your roof when they come loose. But if your gutters require extensive repairs, you might want to consider calling a professional to replace them.
When to Replace Your Gutters
If, when you or your professionals inspect your gutters, you notice significant rust, wear, corrosion, holes, or cracking, you should probably replace these features instead of repairing them. You need functioning gutters to keep your home safe. So if they can't do their job anymore, have a professional replace them. Newer models resist clogging and wear better than their older counterparts anyway.
Whether you prefer DIY projects or professional assistance, use the tips to keep your gutters operational. In turn, they'll keep your home strong and attractive for years to come.