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DIY Roofing: Keeping your Gutters Clear and in Tact
March 15, 2016
When it comes to most cases of roof maintenance or repair, it’s best to call a professional who can work safely and efficiently. However, some upkeep can be done yourself. Gutters, which funnel water from your roof and disperse it away from the foundation of your home, are one of the biggest causes of costly problems when not cleaned out regularly. Although it may be difficult to see inside your gutters from the ground, it’s important to get up on a ladder or on your roof to clean out and inspect your gutters at least once during the Fall and Spring seasons.
How often you should clear out your gutters depends on how many trees are on your property and how far away they are from your roofline. At minimum, plan on clearing them out twice a year. If from the ground you can see leaves and twigs clogging your gutters, you definitely need to get to work.
Gutters are not meant to hold leaves and other debris; when gutters are clogged and unattended, they can lead to serious problems and can hurt your wallet. When gutters clog and potentially cause overflow, they can leave moisture near your foundation, which can flood your basement, damage nearby landscaping, age and crack your driveway more quickly, rot the wood fascia around your home, and cause your roof to start leaking due to a build up of water. Standing water in your gutters can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitos, termites, birds, and other pesky insects. In a worst-case scenario, moisture can infiltrate your foundation and cause it to crack, leading to problems that can cost you tens of thousands of dollars.
When cleaning your gutters, be safe. Before you climb the ladder, make sure it’s sturdy and that all of the steps are secure and in tact. Do not rest the ladder on the gutters themselves, as the weight you add can cause them to collapse. If the ground you’re on is soft, place plywood between the legs and the ground so the ground is more secure. Be sure to clean all debris from the roof first, then the gutters, and finally the downspouts. Also, check gutter spikes to make sure they’re not loose. If your gutters are cracked or leaking, seal them with gutter caulk. If greenery is growing out of your gutters, it’s most likely a bigger problem than you can handle, and calling someone to take care of it might be a better idea.
If your property has a lot of trees within its roofline, you might consider buying some covers for your gutter. Gutter covers can reduce the need for maintenance significantly, but you should never neglect inspection completely. How often you have to maintain covered gutters depends on the material used and the amount and types of trees in your yard. It’s important to note that these guards do not prevent the build up of all debris; in some cases, guards can do more harm than good. When doing seasonal cleanings, you still need to remove the covers, and sometimes only a professional can do this. In other cases, if installed improperly, the guards can actually dam leaves, which will prevent water from entering the gutters, creating leaks on your roof and inside your home. Before purchasing these, be sure to do your research and make the best decision for your home.
Gutter cleaning isn’t the prettiest part of home owning and it’s probably far down on your to do list, but it is essential and, if done regularly and correctly, will save you time and money.