The main reason we have gutters on our buildings is to divert and direct water away from the foundation, which helps prevent water and ice from damaging our homes. Proper maintenance of these drainage systems is crucial to their effectiveness. If they are blocked, damaged, broken or not properly hung, water won’t go where it needs to and you’ll be dealing with water where you don’t want it. Fortunately, it’s easy to maintain gutters yourself.
Cleaning Your Gutters
Regular maintenance doesn’t require a huge time commitment. Follow these cleaning steps twice a year – in the spring and fall – and your gutters will be running free and clear. Clear the area around the downspout so there’s nothing to block the debris you are about to flush down the spout.
Remove sticks, leaves, pine needles and debris from the troughs with a gardening trowel, scoop or gloved hands. Resist the urge to wash it all down with a hose; that can cause the downspout to clog. Once the debris inside has been removed, then you can hose the gutter down, forcing the water toward the downspout. There shouldn’t be much solid material going down. It should mostly be a muddy water mix.
Watch for areas where water pools. All water should flow freely toward the downspout without puddling anywhere along the way. If you do see puddling, the gutters need to be adjusted. You can attempt this yourself or hire a contractor who performs gutter repair and installation to help you.
Turn the hose on full blast on the strongest setting and point it into the downspout opening. This will clean the downspout and flush out any residual debris that may have lodged inside.
Sometimes, gutters need some tweaks and adjustments to work properly. Common problems that can be repaired on your own are:
- Loose gutters: Tighten or replace the screws holding the hangers in place. Use gutter screws for the best possible holding power.
- Leaks: Use silicone gutter sealant on small cracks and joints that leak. Sealant works on vinyl or metal and can be found at any hardware store.
- Puddling: Adjust the grade to alleviate puddling. A slope of 1/4″ for every 5-10 feet of gutter should be appropriate. You can adjust the slope by bending the hangers in most cases, if the puddling is severe, you may need to remount the hangers.
- Sagging: Check the nails or screws holding that section of gutter. They may have corroded through and broken off or become loose. Replace them with screws. If you have spikes, and hammering it back in doesn’t work, you’ll have to take it out and pound it in again slightly to the side of the original location. If sagging is still a problem, check the hangers and gutter shape. They may have been bent under ice dams or heavy debris. You can usually bend hangers up to pull the hanger or gutter back into position.
- Clogged Downspout: Start at the bottom and pull debris out. Once it loosens up, blast the hose in from the bottom to clear out any further debris. Once water starts coming out of the top of the downspout, you know your clog has been cleared. If the clog is particularly troublesome, use a plumber’s snake to clear the jam or remove the downspout and take a look inside.
- Rust: Sand down the rust slightly to determine if it is surface rust or if it goes through the metal. Surface rust can be sanded and painted. Deeper rust means the gutters will eventually have to be replaced.
When it comes time to hire a professional for serious repairs, be sure to hire a reputable company who can prove they do good work with a work warranty. Get everything in writing and do your homework before signing on the dotted line. In most cases you are protected with the right paperwork from a reputable Vancouver gutter repair company. And one more thing; don’t hire somoen based on price alone, this is usually a red flag. Meaning chances are good you could get inferior work and materials installed.