Your rain gutters are often overlooked, as they steadfastly do their job of directing rainwater from your home. However, if your gutters are ignored for too long, they can become clogged with dirt, leaves, and other debris.
When this happens, they will need to be cleaned. You can do it yourself if you're not afraid of heights and don't have an aversion to cleaning heavy wet muck from a narrow metal channel.
Why do gutters need to be cleaned?
In theory, it would seem that gutters should be self-cleaning. After all, their function is to catch and reroute water that is rushing from your roof during rainstorms. However, water is not the only substance that is flowing into the gutters.
Heavy rains will clear the roof of dirt, leaves, sticks, and other debris that have accumulated since the last rainfall. In addition, asphalt roofing tiles will wear away gradually, or become broken from strong rains or winds. This will cause bits of broken tile or asphalt granules to flow into your gutters.
As gutters get clogged, and rain water eventually drains away or evaporates over time, the mass of dirt, debris, and asphalt bits start to solidify into a mass in the bottom of your gutter, creating an even more impenetrable blockage.
Over time, the weight of the muck and blocked water can cause your gutters to begin to pull away from the fascia board that secured them to the exterior wall. Water will eventually make its way into your home if it can access the area behind the gutters.
What do you need to clean your gutters?
All you need is an extension ladder capable of reaching your gutters, work gloves, and a gutter cleaning tool, which resembles a narrow hand spade.
When scooping the muck from the gutters, examine the gutters for signs of potential future trouble. If the gutters are loose or sagging, or if they are pitched downward away from the rain spout, you will need to do some gutter repair.
Basic gutter repair
Your gutters are held in place by seven inch spikes or screws that attach them to the fascia board on the exterior wall. If the spikes or screws come loose from excess weight, you will need to tighten the screws and, if spikes are present, preferably replace the spikes with screws, which provide a better grip.
You will need a cordless drill for the screws and a stick level to be certain that the gutter is pitched slightly downward toward the downspout.
If the gutter is still loose or sagging after tightening the screws, it is likely that water damage has already compromised the integrity of the fascia board and it will need to be replaced.
This may be a task better suited to a roofing or gutter professional like Mr. Gutter. It is important that repairs are done as soon as possible to avoid further damage and to keep water from eventually entering your home.