cleaning gutters to avoid roof leaks
Gutters are a vital component of a quality roofing system and need proper maintenance to keep rainwater flowing in the proper direction.
Clogged gutters can easily force water onto the fascia board and can eventually
cause rotting.  Even worse water can get dammed up and find its own path into the interior of the home, so keeping them free of leaves and debris is a top priority throughout the year.

Here are ten suggestions that will help insure free-flowing
gutters during the heaviest of storms.

Do Not Rely Solely On Gutter Guards

There is no shortage of gutter protection items on the market, but there aren’t any that are absolutely foolproof.  This is particularly true if you live in a heavily wooded area. If you have gutter guards, they still need to be inspected and cleaned out occasionally.

Spring Clean Your Gutters

Check your gutters in spring and clean out tree seeds, leaf buds, small sticks, branches and falling tree blooms.  It is always surprising how much can accumulate and cause an
overflowing situation during a rainstorm. This is especially true if there are trees overhanging the roof.  Certain trees can also leak sap that can act like glue to bind the debris together to create an obstruction.
It’s a good idea while you are inspecting and cleaning your gutters to take note of the condition of your roofing shingles.  If your roof has not been replaced in more than 20 years, your home could seriously need a new one.

Summer Check Up

Sometimes we experience extremely dry weather in the summer and this can cause some leaves to fall prematurely.  Pay attention during heavy storms to make sure the water is
flowing through the gutters and not over the top of them.  If you see a waterfall effect, it is time to get back up on the ladder and do some more cleaning.

Fall Gutter Cleaning

If your home is directly underneath trees, you may need to clean out your gutters several times during the fall season.  Make sure to clean the gutters early enough to that you are not climbing a ladder during icy weather.  You may need the help of a garden hose,and it is not advisable to use the hose during freezing weather.

Many Different Methods For Cleaning Gutters

scooping out debris from a clogged gutter
A makeshift scoop from an old milk carton can easily be created to scoop out debris, or you can use a small garden shovel.  It is also possible to use your hands if you wear heavy gloves.  Running water is a good choice, however you will likely need a pressure washer to force any wet, rotten gunk out.   If you choose this method, take care to keep the water stream away from the shingles as it could easily force them loose. A leaf blower can also be used to remove debris, however it is advisable to wear safety goggles and a dust mask to protect your eyes and lungs.

Make Sure You Feel Safe On A Ladder

man on ladder cleaning out gutters and inspecting roofing system
To clean out any debris, you will need to climb up on a ladder and scoop out the debris.
If you do not feel confident using a ladder, call a professional tohelp.  Never climb out onto the roof itself and try to clean gutters that way.  Never work on the roof in wet,
icy, or windy conditions. Be sure to wear non-slip shoes, and never lean over the edge. If you are not experienced in roof maintenance, you may find yourself making an unexpected trip to the emergency room, so think carefully about using the ladder.

What To Do With The Muck

When cleaning out gutters, you may find yourself picking out lots of decomposed debris or “muck”. If you hang a bucket up on the ladder with you, it is easy to dump the muck right into the bucket.  From there you can add it right to your compost pile.  Another option is to put down a tarp over your shrubs and just throw the gutter contents down as you go.

Run Water From A Garden Hose To Check For Clogs

Once the debris is cleared, it is helpful to take a garden hose up to the gutter and run water through it.  This will test if any clogs are still lingering.  If you do not see water coming out of the downspout, then you will need to go back and remove more debris.

Check For Leaks Or Gaps In The Gutters

As you are cleaning out the gutter, visually inspect them for obvious holes or cracked caulking at the seams.  If you find cracked caulking that has peeled away, the gutter must be completely dried and a bead silicone will need to be applied to seal the hole and keep water from getting in behind the gutters.

Inspect And Replace Spikes And Rivets If Necessary

Another thing to inspect are the spikes that go through the gutters through the fascia board and into the rafters directly behind it.  These spikes can easily work there way
out of the hole and will need to be replaced to insure the gutters are securely
fastened.  Also check the rivets on the downspout to make sure they are nice and tight.  A rivet gun along with new rivets would be needed to fix the rivets if they are loose. These can be found at a local hardware store.