Gutters and downspouts are essential components of homes. These discharge systems are responsible for directing the flow of rainfall or melting snow to a drainage located in the ground away from the foundation of your home.
It is important to observe the proper maintenance of your gutters to avoid costly disasters, such as overflows, flooded basements and eroded soil. Even small mistakes in inspecting and cleaning gutters can compromise the durability and longevity of your gutters.
You should avoid these common gutter maintenance sins so your gutter system can continue to function the way it should for many years to come.
Not Inspecting Your Gutters
One of the most common gutter maintenance mistakes you should avoid is failing to inspect your gutters. This can lead to leaves, pine needles, twigs and other debris accumulating in your gutters and creating blockages that prevent the flow of water. You should also pay attention to any evidence of corrosion that might be present. As time goes by, rust on the seams of your gutters can grow and create holes. If you start noticing water pouring out of a gutter section, bring in an expert right away to fix the problem.
Check your gutters regularly to detect potential problems and avoid costly repairs in the future. Most professionals recommend having your gutters inspected at least once or twice a year, in the spring and fall.
Failing to Clean Gutters and Flush Downspouts
Not clearing your gutters from debris buildup can lead to all sorts of trouble, such as clogged gutters, which can develop into serious damage if you are not careful. Worse still is that debris sometimes attracts pests that could gnaw their way into your home.
It is also crucial to flush your downspouts. If you are sweeping the debris from your gutters toward your downspouts, make sure that it makes its way out. Otherwise, the debris could clog the downspouts and cause water to back up to the roof and underneath the shingles, leading to leaks.
Keeping runoff freely flowing through your seamless gutters is key to keeping water damage at bay. If you are unsure about how to flush your downspouts, calling a gutter cleaning company is a good idea.
Neglecting Small Gutter Repairs
Small leaks at the seams, a slightly loose downspout, patches of mold growth on the gutters… all of these things have one thing in common – they are all minor gutter issues that might not cause severe damage in the short term but have the potential to become worse and dig deep into your pocket in the long run.
Like any well-oiled machine, your gutter system consists of various components affecting the performance of others. This makes it all the more important to address minor repairs when you first see them before they could spiral out of control.
Leaning Ladders Against Your Gutters
Exercise caution when cleaning your seamless gutters. Use a ladder that is the right height for the task at hand, and make sure to set it up at the right angle. Leaning the ladder too heavily against your gutters can cause sections to bend and seams to separate. You should rest the ladder against the exterior walls instead. It is also beneficial to get rid of the habit of slamming doors as it can weaken the hinges in your gutters.
When working on gutters, gutter companies use a ladder standoff bracket to hold the ladder away from the gutters. A ladder stabilizer also offers additional security, reducing the risk of accidentally flipping the ladder sideways or having it slip out from under them.
Using Harsh Chemicals to Clean Your Gutters
While this might sound counterintuitive since gutters are designed to resist threats from Mother Nature, bear in mind that elements like rainfall or hail do not tend to carry any harsh chemicals with them. Should you decide to clean your gutters and downspouts on your own, stay away from caustic chemicals or corrosive ingredients. It is best to opt for organic products in order to minimize the risk of wearing down the finishes of your gutters and siding.
Not Having Proper Drainage
Another gutter installation and maintenance mishap homeowners sometimes overlook is improper drainage. You may not have control over how much it rains, but there are things you can do to minimize the impact it has on your residence. Signs you have drainage problems include water in the basement, mosquitoes breeding in stagnant water, dead grass, eroded soil and ice building up on walkways.
If rain is collecting in flat areas, chances are surface depressions are causing the problem. Installing a swale or filling in and grading certain portions can be helpful. If your lawn is muddy in one spot and dry in others, then it could be the type of soil that is causing issues. You may improve the condition of your soil using a coarse aggregate.
Failing to Prepare Your Gutters for Cold Weather
When outside temperatures start to plummet, some homeowners forget to prepare their gutters for the cold weather. This can easily result in gutter problems, such as ice dams, which can cause your gutters to sag or water to back up to your roof.
It is fairly easy to avoid this problem. Just be sure to clear debris from your gutters before the first frost, then continue to monitor them throughout the season. If you spot any ice or snow buildup, have it removed immediately to steer clear of any damage. Or you can opt for heated gutter systems to get rid of icicle buildup in your gutters completely.
Handling the Maintenance of Your Gutters Alone
Some homeowners take pride in performing repairs and upkeep around their homes on their own. While having a do-it-yourself attitude is great in certain circumstances, such as painting cabinets or installing backsplash, maintaining gutters without the assistance of a professional can lead to incorrect decisions being made. Not to mention, most people do not have the experience or access to safety equipment needed to care for their gutters and downspouts properly.
A gutter specialist knows about the problematic areas in the gutter system and has in-depth knowledge regarding its maintenance. With them on-site, you can reduce the scope of damage and cost of repairs that could take place down the road.
The Benefits of Gutter Maintenance
- It protects the integrity of your home. There is no doubt that clean gutters last longer than clogged gutters. This is because gutters accumulate debris that adds unnecessary strain onto the gutters, causing gutters to detach from the fascia boards. Gutters may also develop rusting when organic matter continues to build up. When you carry out regular maintenance on your gutter system, you are taking an active step to protect the structural integrity of your roof and the rest of your home.
- It preserves the beauty of your home. Gutters are an essential facet of your exterior, affecting the overall appearance of your home. When gutters are neglected, they may fall off and cause overflows that stain the roof and siding. Such issues do not only compromise the structural integrity of your home but can also be interpreted as failing to take responsibility as a homeowner. Furthermore, residential properties with damaged gutters dwindle in terms of resale value and may take longer to attract a prospective buyer.