How to Clean and Repair Gutters


Gutters that collect rainwater running off the roof and channel its flow groundward often get inadequate care for many seasons¡ªuntil problems occur. Downpours destroy plants and lawn below the gutters, seepage moves under the roofing and enters the home, or broken downspouts give way, damaging the home or belongings.

The best solution to gutter problems is prevention. A simple checking, cleaning, and repairing of all the gutters and downspouts around your home can be done in a weekend with time left over for the Game of the Week.

Gutters

BROKEN GUTTER SUPPORTS

When gutters are installed along the eaves of a house, they have sufficient pitch to carry water to the downspouts. If the pitch of the gutter is interrupted because one of the brackets holding it to the roof is loose, water will collect in the depression and flow over the sides of the gutter. This overflow can wash out a section of the lawn or plants below. It may also cause a damp basement.

If the pitch of the gutter is incorrect, you can generally remedy that by tightening the bracket holding the gutter to the roof. You may be able simply to renail the gutter into place, or you may have to replace a section or a bracket.

UNCLOGGING GUTTERS

Gutters should be kept as free of leaves and other rubbish as possible. If the gutter is made of nongalvanized material, a collection of damp leaves will cause the metal gutter to rust. Rotting leaves are similar to a sponge in that they absorb a great amount of water. This added weight may be too great for the brackets holding the gutters and may tear them loose from the roof.

Keeping the gutters clean during the winter is particularly important. An accumulation of ice can cause a great deal of damage to the gutters, and there is always the possibility that snow and ice may back up along the edge of the roof. If there’s a thaw, or if the roof is not insulated, the snow and ice will melt, and when there is sufficient accumulation, water will run under the roofing and into the house.

Cleaning is a simple process. Set an extension ladder against the house, bracing it firmly so that the top of the ladder is above the roof’s edge. Wearing work gloves, remove as much of the debris as you can by hand, dumping it into a bucket. Then flush the gutters and downspouts with a garden hose using an adjustable nozzle for maximum water pressure.

Clean the gutters thoroughly in the fall, after the leaves are off the trees, and again in the late spring. While cleaning, inspect the entire gutter for rust. Patch any rust spots on the bottom of the gutter with a heavy piece of canvas and some white lead, or some fiber glass patching. Seal with roofing compound available in tubes for application with a caulking gun. Paint metal gutters that are liable to rust with a good exterior paint. If you have the old-fashioned wood gutters, paint them on the outside with exterior paint and on the inside with waterproofing coat to increase their length of service.

DOWNSPOUTS

Keep downspouts, or leaders, free of any objects that might clog them. The best method of doing this is to place a piece of wire mesh over the opening of the downspout where it connects with the gutter. Small wire baskets are also available for this purpose through larger building material retailers. If a downspout becomes clogged, it will not only fail to carry the water away from the gutters, but in winter the water inside the metal spout may freeze and split the sides.

Repair Gutters

INSTALL A DRYWELL

The purpose of a drywell is to allow the water discharged from the downspouts to be absorbed by the earth without damaging lawns, and to eliminate the possibility that water will seep along the foundation walls and enter the basement.

Roof water should not be allowed to enter septic tanks or cesspools. These containers are designed to dispose of a limited amount of water per day. If they are filled to capacity with rain water, they cannot take care of the sewage from the house. A drywell is the answer.

A simple drywell can be made by removing the top and bottom of a barrel and sinking it in the ground so that the top of the barrel is about a foot below the surface. The location of the barrel in relation to the house must depend on local drainage conditions. On level ground, the well must be a considerable distance from the house, but when the ground slopes away from the foundation, the well may be as close as 6 feet. Fill the barrel with rocks and place a piece of wire netting over the top to prevent dirt from falling into the rocks. Connect the downspout to the barrel with sections of 3-inch soil pipe available at a plumbing supply house.

When a larger drywell is required, it can be made out of concrete blocks or stone. This well should be located some distance from the house, and the pipe running between it and the downspouts must have a slight pitch to carry the water into the well. The well should have a removable concrete top just below ground level.

Filed Under: Home & Maintenance

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About the Author: Jason Prickett loves to write about home maintenance and stuff you can do yourself instead of hiring any professional. His step by step guides will assist you in completing your home maintenance tasks.

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