One of the most important parts of home maintenance is the regular cleaning and repair of gutters and downspouts. Leaves, mud and standing water can accumulate here, causing a far more expensive problem to fix.
Clogged gutters and downspouts are prone to rust, corrosion and rotting. You’ll have to call in an expert or buy materials and replace these yourself. So, think of cleaning gutters and downspouts (and correcting problems when they’re still small and manageable) as a way to save yourself time and money, in the long run. Here is a simple guide.
When to clean gutters and downspouts
It’s best to do this twice a year, once in autumn after the leaves have fallen and again before the start of the spring rains.
How to clean gutters and downspouts
Clear all debris like leaves and twigs by hand. Once that’s done, flush the gutters with a hose. Grab this chance to check for leaks, corrosion, blocked downspouts, and sagging sections in the gutters. You can correct minor blocks by hosing it down, but if that doesn’t work, get a plumber’s ‘flexible’ snake.
How to prevent clogged gutters and downspouts
You can prevent clogging by adding wire strainers to the tops of the downspouts. For gutters, install wire-mesh gutter guards (you can find these at most home stores).
These simple and cheap steps will lengthen the life of your drainage system. However, you still need to heck your gutters and downspouts regularly, since mud and asphalt-shingle granules can still accumulate there.
How to improve the drainage of gutters
Your gutters should slope toward downspout openings about 1/8 inches for every foot of gutter length. Gutters that are longer than 35 feet should slope form the middle of the span to downspouts at each end. Adjust the pitch of the gutters by tightening or bending the hangers. Using nails that are larger than the originals, renail or replace all loose gutter hangers and spout straps.
How to prevent corrosion of gutters
Even with proper care and maintenance your drainage system will eventually develop signs of corrosion, because of its exposure to the elements. You can, however, postpone the process by cleaning the insides of the gutters with a wire brush and applying a thin coat of asphalt roof cement.
How repair small holes in your drainage system
Large holes call for replacement of the affected gutter section. However you can repair small holes by sanding the damaged area and wiping it clean with a solvent-soaked cloth. Apply a thick coat of roof cement and top it with a patch of heavy canvas, roofing paper, or thin sheet metal. Cover the patch with another generous coating of cement.
Medium-sized holes or cracks can be repaired with large sheet metal patches. Cut the patch so that it extends up both sides of the gutter and over the outer gutter edge. Crimp the patch with pliers and apply roofing cement underneath and on top of the patch. You can also get gutter-patching kits from hardware stores.
Photo from guttercleaningdfw.com