As winter finally ends, it’s time to get outside and prepare your home for spring and summer. You might be tempted to focus your attention on the lawn and garden, but don’t forget to look up – your gutters need attention too. Adding the gutters to your spring cleaning list will prevent costly water damage to your roof, siding, and foundation.
Connection Between Gutter Cleaning and Water Damage
When it rains, water drains from your roof into the gutters, where it flows through the drainpipe and away from your home. If your gutters become clogged with leaves, twigs, or other debris, the system breaks down. Water will pool up in the gutter, where it can overflow and run down the side of your house or seep up under the shingles of your roof. When it does, you could have to deal with any of the following major repairs:
- Roof leaks – which you might not find out about until water seeps through your attic and into the top floor of your home. By that time, the roof will be damaged, as well as the beams and floor of your attic, and the ceiling (and possibly the floor) of your home’s top level.
- Rotted wood – if you catch the problem early, you may only have damaged the fascia board, which attaches the gutter to the rest of the house. If the problem persists, water will run down the side of your home, damaging the rafters, siding, and ultimately the foundation of your home. If you see areas where your gutters are sagging, that’s a good sign that the fascia board is rotted.
- Mold damage – any time your home is damp for longer than 24-48 hours, you may have mold growth. If water has pooled up and begun to leak into your home, you may not realize it for days or even weeks. By the time you notice the problem, you’ll have mold to contend with as well as the original damage.
Gutter Cleaning Tools
Before you begin to clean your gutters, make sure you have the right tools on hand. If you don’t have the tools or the time to devote to cleaning your gutters, call a professional.
- Ladder – you’ll need a sturdy ladder that is tall enough to reach the roofline of your home. If you have a two-story home, you’ll need a ladder that can extend to at least 20 feet. Be sure the ground around your home is strong enough to support your weight and the weight of the ladder. If the ground is uneven or loose, don’t risk serious injury. Call a professional.
- Heavy-duty gardening gloves – you’ll need to protect your hands from whatever has landed in your gutters over the winter.
- Gutter scoop – this is an optional tool designed to remove rotting leaves and other debris from gutters.
- Trash bag – to hold all the debris you pull out of the gutters.
- Garden hose – to rinse and flush the gutters.
How to Clean Gutters
Cleaning gutters isn’t a difficult job, although it is time consuming and can be dangerous, especially if you aren’t used to working on a ladder or a roof. After you’ve climbed up to the gutter, scoop out anything you find in the gutters. Once you’ve removed all of the solid debris you can safely reach, climb down and move the ladder. When the gutters are cleaned out, use your garden hose to flush out anything that may be left. If the water does not flow down the drainpipe, you may need a plumber’s auger to remove clogs in the drain pipe.
Call a Gutter Cleaning Professional
If spending all day digging rotting leaves out of the gutters doesn’t sound like your idea of a Saturday, call an experienced professional. They have the equipment and experience to clean your gutters quickly and thoroughly, and know how to spot and repair any water damage that may have occurred over the winter.