With the arrival of fall, many homeowners start looking around for tips on how to winterize their homes, but often forget items such as gutters. Gutters protect your home from leaves, dirt and other wet debris that collects on your roof. However, you may have fallen into the trap of overlooking gutter cleaning until a problem is underway. Fortunately, regular gutter maintenance will protect your roof against damage throughout the year. Below are some essential tips that will help make this task easier:
When inspecting, do not lean your ladder against any part of the gutter. This is because gutters are typically made from plastic or thin gauge metal, which can be damaged significantly by the pressure of a ladder. Using an A-frame ladder to climb to the appropriate height is a better idea.
Before ascending the ladder, gather materials in a small pail or bag and carry them in such a way that you can still keep both hands on the ladder as you climb. Take a small plastic garbage bag, rubber gloves, and a two inch putty knife. With the plastic gloves on, pick up any twigs, leaves and piles of dirt you wish to dispose of and place them in the small garbage bag. The putty knife can be used to dislodge stubborn patches of dirt or decomposed leaves that have collected in specific areas. Clean each section and never reach beyond the point where you feel comfortable. Rather, climb down the ladder and reposition it for the next section.
When you are finished cleaning, rinse the area with a garden hose to remove tiny pieces of debris that you may have overlooked. After checking the gutters for cleanliness, tap in nails or tighten screws that may have become loose throughout the year.
If you discover that the downspout is completely plugged or slow to drain, give it a strong spray from your garden hose to push out any debris. However, if the downspout reaches directly into a drain, the connection should be undone first so that you do not inadvertently push debris into the drain and create another problem. Finally, if you complete an October inspection and discover roof problems or suspect that it is time for new gutters, be sure to get a gutter system with built-in gutter covers.