Most people don't think about their rain gutters as they silently perform their task of moving rain water from your roof and away from your home. However, when gutters become clogged with accumulated dirt and debris, problems may arise that will attract the attention of the most oblivious homeowner.
Fortunately, you can be proactive and clean your gutters before damage is done. While not pleasant, cleaning your gutters is relatively simple if you're not afraid of heights and don't mind getting dirty.
How do gutters become clogged?
As rain washes from your roof to your gutters, it also carries dirt, leaves, and asphalt particles from your roof tiles into the gutters. As this mixture of water, dirt ,and debris rushes to the narrow opening of the downspout, a clog may form. The water will spill over the sides of the gutters or remain trapped inside.
What's so bad about dirty gutters if no one can see them?
The combined weight of standing water and accumulated muck can cause your gutters to pull away from the fascia board to which they are attached. Water can then access the area behind the gutters, causing the fascia to deteriorate and weaken its grip on the gutters even further.
In addition, as the warm sunshine of the day turns into a cold Canadian night, the water will freeze and expand, pushing the gutters even further from the exterior wall, creating additional space for water to enter.
This can eventually result in complete gutter collapse or a leaking ceiling, as water enters the home through the compromised fascia board.
How can you clean your gutters?
What you will need:
- A ladder that is long enough to reach a point just below gutter level.
- Work gloves.
- A gutter cleaning tool, which resembles a narrow hand spade.
Place your ladder on level ground, preferably on a hard surface. You will need to move the ladder several times to access different areas of your gutters, so be patient when moving a placing your ladder at a different location, and don't lean from the ladder to keep from moving it so frequently. You or the ladder (or both) could fall sideways, and your dirty gutters will be the least of your problems.
Be sure to use your gloves ,and not just because you will be handling slimy accumulated muck. Your gutter supports may have sharp edges, and you may encounter pieces of roof tile and gutter nails in the dirt.
If all the water has evaporated and the dirt and debris have hardened, you will need to dig more forcefully. However, at that point, it may come out of your gutter in long strips hat you can pull up and out of the gutters. Don't be surprised if small plants have begun to sprout in a long neglected gutter, along with root systems that may form heavy clumps that are harder to lift with your narrow cleaning tool.
This mixture of dirt and debris will b surprisingly heavy, so unless you intend to toss it over the side and clean it up afterward, don't fill any container too much without periodically testing the weight. Carrying a heavy container down a ladder can result in loss of balance and a nasty fall.
After you've cleaned your gutters, check to see if they are loose or sagging. If so, hammer in the gutter spikes or tighten the gutter screws that hold the gutters in place. If your gutters still won't stay secured, you may need a consult a roofing or gutter professional (like clean gutters by Nick's Gutters), because significant water damage may have already occurred.