Many homeowners clean their own gutters or hire someone each season to properly maintain their homes. What you may not realize is that most gutter systems should be cleaned 3-4 times a year with each season.
You may be wondering why should I clean out my gutters so often? The reason is each season trees go through various cycles that can clog up your gutters. In spring, most trees drop seedlings and dead twigs. Spring is also the best time to inspect your gutters for any damages that may have occurred during the winter snow. In summer, trees lose leaves from heavy storms and high winds. In early fall, you should remove leaves that have fallen early to keep your gutters flowing freely. At the end of fall or early winter, you want to make sure everything has been properly cleared from the gutter system to help prevent ice dams or buildup of ice in your gutters. The extra weight of frozen water in your gutters can easily cause them to pull away from the fascia and in many cases, fall off the house. Improper gutter maintenance will lead to clogged or damaged gutters and can cause thousands of dollars in damage to your homes foundation, exterior trim and basements.
To clean your gutters properly, rent a sturdy ladder and get your a neighbor to give you a hand. Ladders can be rented from most local rental centers for as little as $40.00 a day. When using ladders, make sure you stay away from power lines, trees and windows. It’s a good idea to use a ladder stabilizer to make sure the ladder doesn’t crush your gutters or slip while your doing the cleaning. Ladder stabilizers can be purchased at most hardware stores for about $30.00. Remember your safety is more important than clean gutters, so make sure you get someone to help you. Thousands of people die each year from falls and electrocution while working on ladders.
If you have gutter screens or gutter guards, make sure that they aren’t damaged or clogged with leaves and branches. They won’t help protect the gutters if the water can’t get into them properly and the water may just flow over them making them useless, even if the gutters are clean! Carefully lift the guards to avoid damaging them and remove any leaves or debris under them and then reinstall them properly. You should run water over them to make sure they are working properly. Check your downspouts to see if they have screens at the top and clear them as well. If necessary, use a hose to clear any heavily clogged downspouts and make sure you replace any damaged gutter or downspout screens. While cleaning your gutters, inspect them to make sure the fasteners are properly secured. This can usually be done with a hammer, or in some cases a screwdriver.
You may find that over time, the spikes that hold the aluminum to the fascia board have loosened. Either drive the loose spikes back into place, or replace them with longer ones for improved support. When gutters are loose, the pitch is changed and the water will overflow at low areas. Since you have help from your neighbor, this is also the perfect time to inspect your roof for missing shingles, cracked vent pipe gaskets or bare nails. Make sure you return the favor and help him or her on their house when you’re done.