If your property needs them, great gutters are one of the best investments a homeowner can make. Here’s why they’re so important and how you can keep them at their best.
If roofs are the unsung hero of every home (and they are!) gutters are the sidekick they can’t do without. Gutters safely redirect rainwater and melting snow away from both the roof and the exterior of your home. Poorly maintained gutters make your roof vulnerable to the risks of rainwater, which include pooling, leaks, damage to roofing materials, and attics and upper floors with mold and mildew, which is hazardous to our health.
The exterior walls of a home can also be devastated by moisture. Widespread discoloration and erosion of cladding materials can greatly reduce a home’s aesthetic and market value, not to mention that all that moisture hitting the ground seeps through and directly attacks the foundations of the home.
Those foundations will slowly weaken and place the home and its occupants at pronounced risk, both financial and physical. Again, these exterior and foundation troubles can be overcome by strong, clean gutters that deposit water where it’s safe to hit the ground.
Not every home needs a gutter; very dry climates render them a pretty useless addition. For those that do, here are some best maintenance practices.
The gutter maintenance basics
Good gutter maintenance involves some elbow grease – getting up on the ladder and applying some of the many tools on the market to clean out debris. Thick gloves and some protective eyewear are both advised. A general rule of thumb is to check in on your gutters every few months or directly after any heavy weather that may have deposited dirt and leaves.
Don’t forget that your downspout can become as clogged as the gutter. This is a less-risky job, since it can occasionally be performed from ground level. It’s generally achieved by placing your garden hose on its highest setting into the downspout and flush upwards, dislodging any blockage and allowing it to flow out. Sometimes, a ladder climb may be necessary to address spout blockage from the top down.
Gutter guards are favored by some homeowners and come in several forms such as mesh, foam inserts and brushes. The foam and brush inserts slot neatly into the gutter and absorb water, while the mesh operates by sitting on top of your gutter and only letting water through while leaves are blocked.
Guards can be a neat solution in terms of reducing cleaning times and debris cleaning, but a spotless gutter isn’t the whole maintenance picture.
Why isn’t a clean gutter enough?
Even gutters that are kept clear are subject to wear and tear from the elements. All that water can rust a gutter, depending on what it’s made of. Plastic guttering won’t rust, but slow and steady water, snow and ice weight can gradually tug all gutter types away from the roof, as can wind.
The mesh gutter guards I mentioned will hold wet leaves until they dry up and blow off, but this also contributes to the overall weight gutters carry. The same can go for foam inserts if they’re overwhelmed by hard rains. Thankfully, gutter sag and weakening connections are much easier for homeowners to spot from ground level than roof problems higher up.
Fixing gutter sag can be as simple as replacing the hangers that secure the gutters to your home. This is a relatively inexpensive operation, and most hardware stores carry the necessary parts. However, if a previous roofing job failed to space your gutter hangers correctly in the first place, repositioning them takes a little more expertise.
Strong gutters are especially important if your home faces very cold weather. Snow can weigh a great deal, as can ice. Lastly, a little landscaping around your property may be necessary. Do you have a tree that could be depositing a steady flow of leaves onto your roof and giving your gutter a hard time? It may be necessary to trim it back to prevent roof problems in the future.
Always talk to a professional before any gutter maintenance
If you must go ahead and maintain your gutters, never do so alone, in bad weather or without protective hand and eye gear. A second person holding your ladder can make all the difference.
I recommend contacting the Blue Nail team for more advice if you’re ready to review your gutter condition. It’s not a complex job, but it can be a dangerous one without the proper equipment, experience and foresight.
We’re dedicated to enriching your home-owning knowledge, so don’t miss our free insider’s guide download and don’t hesitate to contact us at the details below with any roof maintenance questions.
Working with Blue Nail Roofing means coming home to craftsmanship. From first call to final inspection, we’re with you every step of the way to ensure you benefit from our experience. For more information or a free consultation, drop by our contact page or call 973-937-8876.