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Gutter cleaning and maintenance

Homeowners should regularly clean out their gutters and downspouts. Normally this task should be done at least twice a year in the spring and fall, but homes in heavily wooded areas may need more frequent attention. Attentive gutter cleaning is a viable alternative to gutter covers and other products.

Why Gutter and Downspouts Should Be Cleaned Out Regularly

  • Regular gutter system maintenance helps the gutters and downpouts perform better, helping them to work effectively in heavy rains.
  • Keeping the gutters clean puts less stress on the miters and end caps, helping prevent gutter seal cracks and cutting down on leaks.
  • Keeping the gutter system free from debris helps prevent ice dams and other associated roof damage when winter weather comes. For this reason, a thorough fall cleaning is particularly important.

Equipment Needed for Gutter Cleaning

  • A ladder.
  • A large bucket with a handle.
  • Rubber gloves, if desired.
  • A garden hose.
  • A caulk gun and gutter seal, for touching up cracked miter joints and end caps.

Directions for Cleaning Out Gutters

  1. Pick a location to start on and work around the house in a consistent direction to make sure not to miss anything.
  2. For each particular guttter section, work toward the downspout from the high end. If the gutter is holding water, first unclog the downspout hole and let it drain out. Use the garden hose to help clear the downspout.
  3. Slide hand across the bottom of the gutter while working toward the downspout to make sure to get everything. As a pile accumulates, pick it up and place it in the bucket.
  4. Use the garden hose as often as necessary to do a thorough job.
  5. At the downspout outlet tube, make sure to flush out any remaining debris. Check the downspout itself for debris that may be packed up in the downspout. If necessary, simply remove the downspout and clean it out from the ground, then reinstall it.
  6. At each end cap and miter, check the gutter seal. Using the garden hose to flush the gutters out, it will be easy to spot any leaks present. If an area is leaking, first dry it thoroughy and block any additional water from flowing to it. Make sure the area is as clean as possible so the new gutter seal will stick to it. Apply the gutter seal over the crack, encouraging it to sit as flat as possible over the seam with a finger or a scrap piece of cardboard. Keep in mind that most gutter seal products work best when installed on a clean, dry surface, and that they tend to settle down flat over time after installed.
  7. While working across each section of gutter, inspect each gutter spike or hanger to make sure they are properly secured. Renail or tighten screws as necessary. Doing so will prevent the gutter from sagging and holding water, helping it to function better longer. If there is an area that does not drain to the downspout, remove any nails or screws holding it in and adjust the pitch as needed. This sort of maintenance will help the system function better in between cleanings, and will actually help the gutters keep themselves clean, to an extent.
  8. Dispose of any debris from the gutters, including any that washed out on the ground at the end of the downspouts, and clean up.
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