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Gutter Cleaning and Maintenance

While checking off all those items on your spring cleaning list, don’t forget to clean out the gutters as well. Gutters that aren’t properly maintained allow debris to build up in the gutters, which can cause water to pool up against the fascia boards or overflow too close to the foundation below.

Prep for Cleaning

  • Make sure that it hasn’t rained in a while, as cleaning gutters can be messy if the debris inside is still wet.
  • Gather the tools: an extendable ladder (preferably with standoff stabilizers), work gloves, safety glasses, trowel or sand shovel, tool bucket, tarp, and a garden hose.

Cleaning Process

Start cleaning by first clearing out clogged downspouts on the ground. Clear any clogs and larger debris in the downspout. A small nozzle and a plumber’s snake may be useful for very difficult or hard-to-reach clogs.

Second, begin cleaning your gutters near the downspout and work away. Remove all the larger debris such as sticks, leaves, pine needles, and muck with the trowel, dumping onto the tarp on the ground below.

Once the gutters are free of debris, flush the gutters with the garden hose, starting at the end furthest away from the downspouts. Check for leaks. If water doesn’t drain immediately, check the downspout strainer at the top of the downspout. Remember to clean the downspout strainer thoroughly regardless of how quickly the water drains.

Maintenance Tips

If drainage continues to be an issue, even after cleaning the gutters and downspouts thoroughly, the slope of your gutters may be at fault. Typically, gutters are supposed to decline ¼ of an inch towards the downspout for every 10 feet of gutter. If the gutters are not sloped sufficiently, they will need to be repositioned. Detach the hangers, one section at a time, and position appropriately.

Leaking can be due to cracked or broken caulk along the seam. If the caulk is broken, bead silicon will reseal the seams, providing that the old caulking is chiseled out and the area is dry. To repair seams, ensure the seam is tight, and seal both sides of the joints with bead sealant. To repair end caps, seal the inside of the joint.

A complete inspection of gutters also includes checking the spikes attaching the gutters to the fascia board, and tightening the rivets along the downspouts. New gutter spikes can be purchased at any home improvement store, along with an inexpensive rivet gun.

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