Gutter maintenance
Article by: Kimberly Guest
Manage your home 21 Feb 2022

Gutter maintenance: Don't leaf it to the last minute

Gutter maintenance is an essential part of keeping the structure of your home in good condition: protecting your roof, walls, foundations and surrounding ground space.

Clogged or leaking gutters can cause considerable damage to these areas resulting in the need for expensive repairs. Gutters also offer fertile breeding ground and living space for a variety of insects and animals such as mosquitos, bees, hornets, wasps, mice and rats.

So, how often should I check my gutters?

According to specialists, this depends on your environment. If you have lots of surrounding trees, live in a semi-rural or rural environment, or reside in a windy area, you will need to schedule gutter maintenance regularly. Even if these conditions do not apply to you, you should give your gutters the once-over at least twice a year to make sure that they are clear of debris, bird nests, insect colonies and even rats and mice.

Step-by-step guide to gutter maintenance

Many companies offer gutter maintenance services; but, if you are handy around the house and eager to save some money, this is something you can do yourself.

Safety first
Gutter maintenance requires working at height and potentially encountering hazardous insects and animals. You will need the following items:

  • Dress for the work with sturdy non-slip gloves, shoes with good grip, protective eyeglasses, pants and a long-sleeved shirt. These will protect you from cuts, scrapes, insect and animal bites.
  • You will need a sturdy ladder that reaches the height of your gutters and someone to hold it in place while you are working.
  • Do not try to lean beyond your comfortable reach when standing square on the ladder. Over-balancing and falling is a real risk and could require a trip to the hospital and broken bones.
  • Remember that you have a person holding the ladder below you. Dropping debris to the ground means that it could get in that person’s eyes and cause damage to them as well as cause the ladder to become unstable. Tie a bag to your belt or across your body to gather the waste and make sure the person holding your ladder is also wearing protective eyewear.

Remove debris
Once you can see the state of your gutters, you’ll be able to determine the best tools for the job.

  • A light sprinkling of leaves can be easily gathered in a gloved hand but if there is a lot of debris, you may want to use a small gardening spade or a scoop.
  • Built-up debris in the downpipe can be very hard to get to, so use a flexible pipe to loosen and push debris out through the bottom of the pipe.
  • Using hot, soapy water and a kitchen sponge, clean away any leftover debris and residue.

Check for leaks
Leaking gutters are a leading cause of wall, foundation, paving and ground damage.

  • A watering can is as effective in identifying leaks as a hosepipe and will use far less water as well.
  • Pour water into your gutters, paying particular attention to joints and seams, and monitor for any leaks.
  • To repair a leak, clean the area thoroughly and apply silicone caulk to seal it.

Secure in place
Gutters work best when they are securely supported and fixed in place. Loose brackets, screws and gutter spikes can also result in gutters getting damaged faster, requiring expensive replacements.

  • Check that each section of your gutters is securely fixed to the home and properly supported with no sagging. Don’t forget to check the downpipes.
  • Ensure that all joints fit together properly and aren’t loose.
  • Add gutter brackets to areas that need more support.
  • Replace gutter spikes with gutter screws for more support and security.

Make the most of rainwater
Gathering rainwater into containers will protect your foundations, paving and grounds from becoming waterlogged and damaged.

  • Place containers, buckets or rainwater harvesting tanks below the downpipes. This will enable you to catch and store rainwater for use elsewhere in the home or garden. Not only will your garden thank you, but your water consumption will be lower too.

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