Over the weekend when I was running errands, going to service calls and franticly trying to organize my helpful hints for everyone (there are just so many of them) I was asked by a customer why it was so important to keep their homes gutters clean. After I explained all I knew to her it hit me…this will be my next tip.
Now you must be thinking, wow a plumber that will also clean my gutters, what a perfect world. Well, I don’t do gutters (or windows for that matter). To be perfectly honest, most homeowners don’t think about the maintenance of their gutters. Let’s face it, when it is raining we tend to rush into the home to keep from getting wet and we are not surveying our gutter drainage system. When the weather is nice we still do not take notice of our gutters unless someone else notices that home with a garden growing out of their roof. A gutter that is full of debris will actually cause more harm than good to your family and home.
If the gutter drains are clogged they obviously defeat the purpose of having gutters in the first place. Water will just overflow and cause damage to your landscaping and to the gutter system itself. The overwhelming amount of water in the gutter will cause it to pull away from the home and eventually fall off.
Plugged or clogged gutter drains can cause wood rot. If the drains are plugged, water could sit in the gutters for weeks and if your home has a wooden fascia, this will rot first. Wherever your gutters are overflowing, the “splash back” effect will cause doorways, garage doors and porches to rot.
Also, mosquitoes love stagnant water. If your gutters are clogged they can be an oasis for mosquito larvae to grow and hatch. This can be detrimental to the health and well being of your family and pets, as these pests are known carriers of many diseases.
When should I clean my gutters?
Gutters should be cleaned twice a year. In the spring (May/June) after all the seedlings fall. Then again in November/December as winter approaches. Cleaning the gutters is not how most of us want to spend our weekend now that football season has begun so I suggest waiting until the leaves are about 80% down. If you wait until the very last leaf falls before you clean your gutter this could lead to trouble if you get a sudden cold snap or snowstorm. Remember the Blizzard of ’09.
How to clean your gutter can be simple or very dangerous. If you do not have or are not willing to invest in the proper equipment I strongly recommend that you hire a professional. You may find that your gutter is only littered with the grit or dust from your roof asphalt shingles. If this is the case (lucky you) simply use a blower to blow out as much grit as you can. Removing this sediment is important, as it will build up considerable weight over time.
Once you get to the leader pipes you can be sure it is clean by dropping a stone down the drain and watching to see if it comes out below. If it does not than there is probably a blockage in the elbows at the top or near the bottom of the leader pipe. You will have to use a cordless drill to disassemble the leader pipe to clean it properly. Keep in mind there is no one part of this maintenance project that is more important then the others.
Now lets get out there and clean those gutters.
P.S. While you are up there you may as well take a hammer or screwdriver (depending on what type of fasteners are used to hold the gutter system to the fascia) and tighten up as you clean your gutter.