Cleaning and Maintaining Gutters

by Crown Roofing


Posted on October 14, 2019 at 11:00 AM


This is my house at sunset.

Gutter maintenance may not be the most fun way to spend a weekend, but taking the time to do what needs to be done for your roof is important nonetheless. Cleaning gutters should be done every fall to make sure they are clear of leaves and accumulated debris, especially when there are trees in the yard. People don't often stop to think of the issues that can arise from clogged gutters, but there are actually many. These include damage to the gutter from the weight of water and debris, dry rot to the fascia as well as damage to the roof itself from gutter overflow. If you wish to prolong the life of your roof and home you will want to do annual maintenance on your gutters.

Knowing Your Gutter

Inspect your gutters.

Your gutter is either metal or vinyl. Pooling water in aged metal gutters will cause corrosion and result in premature failure of the gutter walls and brackets. Vinyl gutters do not corrode and cost less to install but do not have the longevity of metal. PVC gutters are also more fragile and are more likely to crack or shatter from any kind of impact. Depending on the quality and whether or not annual maintenance is performed, these PVC vinyl gutters can begin to sag, crack, and wear out in a relatively short time, particularly if you get the thinner variety. Most older home in Sacramento used galvanized metal gutters and they should be checked for corrosion of the galvanized coating. More recently, homes may have PVC gutters and they should be checked for sag, cracking and seam separation.

Remove the Debris

An extension ladder is going to be your best bet for access to the gutters. Always keep in mind getting on the roof involves some risk. Pay attention to best practices in ladder safety, which include:

• Ground stability for ladder feet
• Minimize long reaching
• Keep your waist between the rails
• Move slow and deliberate
• Use a ladder stabilizer
Be sure to use a ladder stabilizer. That last item is pretty important. Never lean a directly ladder against the gutter but instead use a ladder stabilizer. Gutters are not designed to handle your body weight. Plastic gutters can be broken and metal gutters can be torn off the side of the house leaning a ladder on them. Please also visit our other blogs where we discuss how to deal with roof leaks and getting the roof rain ready for winter for other helpful DIY roofing tips. Once on the roof you will be able to see more clearly how much debris has accumulated in your gutter. Using a small garden trowel, or just your hands with a pair of gloves, scoop out the leaves and sediment, starting at the downspout. You might find that your hands are the best tool for this job. We have found that getting downspout clogs loosened is far easier with hands than a trowel. Hands are more flexible and can grab and lift debris out with more ease than a trowel.

When you’ve cleaned as much as you safely can in one spot, move the ladder on down and repeat the process with all your gutters. Once you’ve removed all that you can with your hands, use a hose with a spray gun to rinse out the remain debris, starting at the gutter end opposite the downspout. Take a look at the downspout to ensure that water is coming cleanly through the spout. If it’s just trickling, you know you still have a clog. If that is the case, direct a stream of water right into the downspout to clear it.

Observing gutter debris from the roof. Water pooling in the gutter from a clogged downspout. Cleaning out gutter debris with a trowel. Rinsing the gutter after cleaning.

DIY Gutter Repairs

Most homeowners in the Sacramento area with older home will be dealing with galvanized gutters, which is good because metal gutters are repairable. After cleaning do an inspection for holes. Gutters develop holes in a number of ways. Rust eats through galvanized steel gutters, but sometimes you'll find a hole that someone drilled through a gutter in an attempt to drain standing water. If a hole is found clean the area of any debris, then clean the spot thoroughly with rubbing alcohol. Then cut cut off a piece of rubberized Flexx tape and firmly apply the entire piece to the problem area. Applying Flexx tape is often all that is needed to fix small holes in the gutter, but for extra protection, or in cases where there is more damage, you can apply gutter sealant or Flexx spray sealant over the tape.


There are, of course, many possible issues that can develop with gutters requiring more complicated repairs involving reforming or replacing metal gutters or brackets. We encourage DIY homeowners to take advantage of free gutter cleaning and repair tutorials not only on YouTube, but also from hardware stores like Home Depot, and Lowes as well as Angies List, which provides helpful tips as well. We suggest watching them all - the more information you have the more confident you will be taking on gutter maintenance and repair.

7 Essential DIY Roofing Repair and Maintenance Tools

A claw hammer is needed. A pry bar will be needed to lift nails and shingles. A putty knife is handy to get under the shingles. A hook knife is used to cut composition shingles. Roofing nails will be needed. Roofing mastic is needed for shingle adhesion. Rubber gloves to protect the hands from roofing mastic.

Gutter Guards

We have said that annual gutter maintenance is important and that it is, but one sure way to take the heat off annual gutter maintenance is to install gutter guards. There are many options and prices available but Crown Roofing recommends Amerimax Gutter Guards as our product of choice. The heavy metal mesh is fashioned so that it hooks into the gutter edge as well as under the roofing tiles so that it will stay in place under challenging storm conditions. Furthermore, the heavy gage mesh is built to last, will not shift, blow or collapse under weight as some of the plastic gutter guard products will do. They can be screwed or zip tied securely in place and frankly we find that Amerimax gutter guards more easy to install than others.

Unboxing the Gutter Guard screens. Here we see the box label showing the interlock feature. Note the Gutter Guard fitment at the drip edge. How the Gutter Guard is tucked under the roofing tiles. An example of inner and outer edge fitment of the gutter screen. How the sides of the screens will overlap when fit together. The last step is to slide the gutter guards into the overlapping fastening points. A birds-eye view of the completed installation of the Gutter Guard.

It's true there is a cost to installing gutter guards, but considering the cost of complete gutter replacement, as well as potential damage to roof and fascia from failing to do annual gutter maintenance, we feel that installing gutter guards is a small price to pay, especially in older neighborhoods with lots of big trees like we have here in Sacramento.



Leave a Comment:

 

Roofing Talk October 20, 2019 at 10:00 AM

Thank you Crown Roofing for the information on gutters. I will be looking into gutter guards.

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Gutter maintenance may not be the most fun way to spend a weekend, but taking the time to do what needs to be done for your roof is important nonetheless. Cleaning gutters should be done every fall to make sure they are clear of leaves and accumulated debris, especially when there are trees in the yard. People don't often stop to think of the issues that can arise from clogged gutters, but there are actually many. These include damage to the gutter from the weight of water and debris, dry rot to the fascia as well as damage to the roof itself from gutter overflow. If you wish to prolong the life of your roof and home you will want to do annual maintenance on your gutters



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