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How to Maintain Your Gutters

Sep 30, 2014

Gutters and downspouts play a big part in making sure your home is protected from water and moisture damage. Clogged or leaky gutters can result in water spilling out and collecting around the home’s foundations. This could lead to major problems such as:

  • Foundation walls settling/sinking
  • Bulging and/or cracking of basement walls

To avoid these problems, keep your gutters and downspouts in good condition through regular maintenance. Here are some tips to help you along the way.

1. Clean Your Gutters

  • Manually clean out leaves, sticks, needles and seeds using gloves; scoop out any debris with a garden trowel.
  • Avoid using a hose to remove debris – it might clog up the downspouts.
  • Remove any pasty sediment that results from tiny granules of asphalt roofing shingles mixing with dirt and water.
  • If there’s any residual matter, flush it out with your garden hose.
  • Clean downspouts by turning your hose on full blast and threading it into the opening.
  • Adjust your gutters so they’re sloped one vertical inch for every 15 to 20 horizontal feet so they drain properly.

2. Repair Gutters

  • Install new hangars to hold gutters in place. Gutters are usually attached using straps, hangers or long nails inserted through metal collars (known as “spikes and ferrules”).
  • Instead of replacing straps, re-nailing old spikes or adding new spikes, use gutter hangers with self-tapping screws (available at home improvement centers) instead.
  • Replacing straps means prying up roofing materials; it’s easier to install new hangars instead.
  • If spikes need repair, replace them with gutter screws and matching ferrules; a gutter screw has more holding power than a spike.

3. Fix Leaks

  • If you find any leaks at seams, fix them with silicone sealer.
  • If there are rust holes in your steel gutters, replace them instead of trying to repair them with patch kits, which offer only a temporary solution.

4. Replace Gutters

  • If you’re in the business of replacing gutters, opt for steel over aluminum or vinyl, as steel gutters generally performs better.
  • Expansion and contraction due to weather conditions will cause aluminum gutters to come loose more frequently.
  • Vinyl gutters some in 10-foot lengths, which means there’ll be lots of seams to seal.
  • Steel gutters can be installed without intermittent seams and some versions feature baked-on enamel finishes with 40-year warranties.

To learn more about gutter maintenance, talk to a RESNET qualified contractor.