The joys of autumn: family gatherings, rosy apples, jack-o-lanterns… and inspecting and cleaning the gutters. Yep, it’s that time again. Here’s how to keep your gutters in tip-top trim.
Start with the ladder. You have a perfect angle when the distance from the house to the bottom of the ladder is 1/4 the distance from the ground to where the ladder rests against the house.
Clear the gutters of all leaves and debris. To save moving the ladder each time, or if your roof’s too steep to walk on, drag debris toward you with a narrow hoe. Drag lightly, as a snag could pull you off balance.
Clean downspouts from the bottom where possible. A plumber’s snake can help you loosen and drag out clogs of leaves.
Now, run your garden hose up to the highest point in the gutters (tie it in place), and turn it on. Look for leaks and other problems.
Seal leaks with good exterior silicone caulking, smoothing carefully so it won’t snag debris.
If a gutter has sagged somewhere, water will slow down or stop completely and overflow. This usually occurs with gutters supported by straps, which have separated from the bracket. Reattach them with bolts or replace them.
You may want to install screens to prevent leaves from getting into gutters or clogging downspouts. These can work well, but they need to be checked regularly as the debris they trap may simply form a dam around the screen, causing water to flow over gutters or overflow at a downspout.
And if you still feel you haven’t done enough, try this. At least one creative homeowner has suggested pouring linseed oil in your gutters to keep the surface slick and prevent debris build up. Hmmmmm.