It's easy to overlook just how much your gutters do to protect your building. Channeling water away might seem like a simple and routine function, but what your gutter system is really doing by finding proper drainage for rain and snow is protecting your roof, walls, and even your foundation from water damage.
When gutters are working properly, we hardly notice them at all, but when they are rusted, leaky, or blocked, they can be a major headache. This is why it is important to perform routine cleaning and maintenance of your gutters and downspouts, restoring them if necessary, and to take preventative measures to protect your drainage system.
Seasonal Threats to Your Gutter
Your gutters face a variety of hazards all year round. Here are some seasonal pitfalls to guard against:
Heavy, wet spring snows can weaken joints and seams, and fluctuating temperatures can cause freeze-thaw cycles that widen seams and gaps. Accumulated dirt and debris from fall and winter can cause blockages.
Persistent or heavy rainfall can leak through compromised seams. Water exposure can lead to rust.
Leaves and other debris can clog gutters, resulting in blockages, which can lead to rust and water accumulation on the roof.
Freezing temperatures can lead to ice accumulation, which can compromise seams. Freeze-thaw cycles can exacerbate damage from built-up ice. Persistent freezing temperatures can lead to ice dams, causing blockage. In warmer climates, persistent winter rainfall can lead to rust and water accumulation or overflow.
Preventative Care: Maintaining Your Gutter
The best way to treat damage to your gutter is to avoid it in the first place. Here are some ways to head off gutter damage.
The most important thing you can do to protect your gutters and downspouts is to clean them regularly to avoid blockage and moisture accumulation. For most drainage systems, this is as simple as removing gutter debris using your hands or a trowel, and flushing downspout blockages. Other systems may require more thorough cleaning methods.
Self-Clean? or Hire A Pro?
When it comes time to clean gutters, many people elect to do it themselves, while others pay to have it done professionally. What's the difference? While most people can adequately clean their gutters DIY, a professional service will use specialized equipment that cleans more efficiently and effectively, and will typically go through a routine checklist of tasks for a meticulous clean. For this reason, the pro's job will be quicker and more thorough. Additionally, for buildings that are especially large or tall, a professional service may be the safest way to go.
Install Gutter Screens
If your building is located in an area with lots of trees or other sources of debris, you may choose to install gutter screens to keep litter out of your gutters. These devices range from simple metal grates that filter out large debris, to nylon screens that do a more thorough job, to foam filters that allow water through your gutter while bouncing litter away.
At least once a year, you should trim any overhanging tree branches to reduce leaf litter come fall.
Keeping your roof clean is a good idea for a variety of reasons. One of them is that the more debris that's on your roof, the more that can find its way into your gutters.
Check Gutter Pitch
Pour a bucket or two of water into your gutters to ensure that they are properly sloped and water is indeed draining.
Apply A Sealant
A quality rubber sealant can protect gutters from rust, maintain seam integrity, and facilitate better drainage, reducing blockage.
Proactive Care: Restoring Your Gutter
Even with regular maintenance, your gutters can suffer damage and wear from the elements. It's a good idea to inspect your drainage system for trouble spots at least once a year, and to address damage with a restoration process.
Leaks are generally apparent during rainstorms and snowmelt, but you can also inspect for them by pouring a bucket or two of water into strategic areas of your gutter system. Leaky seams should be sealed with a caulking compound, while small holes can be patched with roofing cement. If a segment of gutter is especially leaky, it may warrant replacing.
It is important to treat any rust before it does serious damage to your gutter. Remove light rust using a wire brush, and be sure to flush or vacuum the resulting debris. You can also use a rust-removing solvent before power washing your gutters.
Reline Your Gutter
After fixing leaks and removing rust, you should consider relining your gutter with a rubber sealant. This measure can keep seams from leaking, prevent rust, and limit blockage from debris.
Our gutters work hard to maintain healthy drainage around our property, but they're constantly exposed to small hazards that can wear them down over time. It's crucial to keep drainage systems in good condition with regular maintenance and cleaning, and by addressing small damages before they become huge problems.