Nobody wakes up in the morning full of enthusiasm about cleaning their home’s rain gutter system. It’s one of those exterior maintenance chores that you put off as long as possible because of the labor involved in doing it yourself, or the expense of hiring a pro. But wise people always warn about the consequences of procrastination, and this definitely applies to neglecting the gutters. Doing the work now can not only boost your Central Florida home’s curb appeal, but help prevent property damage – including foundation leaks.
Why a house needs rain gutters
Sure, they’re a pain to clean, yet essential as the first line of defense to your house and property against pouring rain. According to the Mr. Handyman blog, rain gutters and downspouts are necessary for several reasons:
Erosion prevention – Homes built to code are situated on a slight slope to guide runoff away from the foundation. If rain flows off the roof because you have no gutters, the water causes massive erosion, washing away more and more soil each time it rains. This causes your carefully sloped landscape to wear down, allowing runoff to flow toward your home instead of away from it. Erosion also causes the foundation to settle. Eventually, you may start to notice uneven floors and cracked walls and chimneys as a result.
Protection for siding and other home exterior surfaces – When rainwater comes down the siding, it brings with it dirt, leaves and tiny asphalt shingle particles – which can result in staining. As a result, your house looks dirty, which also negatively impacts the curb appeal of your home. Apart from aesthetics, streams of water over time can cause your siding to rot (more so if it is made of wood). Rotten sidings are not just unsightly, but can also allow pests to infest your home. Too much water entering through the siding can cause structural damage.
Protection for landscaping – Shrubs and flower beds planted close to the house can be drowned by water running off the roof during heavy rains. This is especially an issue during Central Florida’s daily afternoon thunderstorms in the summer months.
What causes gutter leaks
So, what causes a leak in the gutters? The main reasons include poor maintenance and weather. Gutters installed in sections can develop leaks when the seams holding the sections together start deteriorating. Plastic gutters become brittle over time, causing leaks as the material breaks down.
How to clean your rain gutters and downspouts
The best way to clean gutters is to hire a professional, who has all the necessary equipment and the know-how to clean them safely and quickly. For those of a DIY mindset, the pros offer the following step-by-step advice, which is given in greater details in the links provided. Be honest about your level of physical fitness, stamina and stability on a ladder. And unless you’re experienced, stay off the roof – even on a single-story house.
Home expert, author and HGTV personality Don Vandervort outlines cleaning methods by both conventional means and use of a leaf blower with a gutter cleaning kit attachment in his article for HomeTips. Those with experience in performing home maintenance projects while on the roof can read Vandervort’s post for instructions and precautions regarding the leaf blower method.
Conventional cleaning method
Remove loose debris – Start at the drain outlet from the low end of the gutter. Use a gutter scoop or narrow garden trowel to take out loose debris, making sure to work away from the drain outlet.
Use a hose to blast out the gutters – Working toward the drain outlet, use a high-pressure hose nozzle to wash out each length of gutter.
Clean the drainpipes so that there are no obstructions – Should you see that water is not draining freely from the downspout, clean it thoroughly by flushing the debris down with a hose so that the water starts draining properly. If you’re unable to clear the obstruction, you can use a plumber’s auger or snake to clean it, and take out the debris from the bottom – or, in some cases, from the top. Further details about cleaning clogged downspouts are available on the Mr. Handyman blog.
How to keep gutters in good condition
Check and clear gutters at least twice a year – spring and autumn. You might have to loosen dirt and scrub with a stiff brush. You can also use a hose to flush gutters, which will clean the eaves, troughs and downspouts.
Periodically, you’ll need to adjust the slope of the gutters so that water moves straight to the downspouts. Run water, and if you see that it’s draining slowly, readjust the slope so it starts draining properly.
Make sure that the downspouts expel water at a decent distance from your house. If needed, add downspout extenders to carry the water further away – or use concrete or plastic splash blocks, which are sloped and extend away from the house.
Inspect downspouts for rust, flaking, peeling paint (if applicable) and leaks. Ensure that downspouts are secured tightly against the fascia boards – which themselves should be inspected for dry rot or other damage, and replaced if necessary.
Install gutter guards and leaf catchers. Debris will ultimately settle through them, and you will have to remove them to clean the gutters. The most popular options are screen, surface tension and fine mesh. Family Handyman provides a helpful guide to all three options.
A foundation or slab leak is an extreme result of clogged gutters that can’t do their job of directing rain water away from your house. While we want you to avoid this situation, Certified Leak Detection has more than 30 years of experience in leak detection and repair for swimming pools, spas and hot tubs, as well as slabs and foundations.
Serving areas throughout Central Florida – including Orlando, Longwood, Lake Mary, Sanford, Kissimmee, Clermont and Winter Springs – our team is ready to answer your call.
Contact us for quick, reliable service.