Cleaning roof gutters is a small task that can prevent big problems. Every spring and fall, thoroughly cleaning your home’s gutters will keep them working like they should. Leaves can build up and clog the downspouts, which can cause water damage to your roof and fascia (board behind the gutter). All that water pouring over the gutters can end up next to your home’s foundation, and maybe in the basement or crawlspace. Follow these simple steps for cleaning your home’s gutters and making simple gutter repairs.
Select an appropriate ladder to clean gutters. Use a step ladder if possible. For a two-story home, you may need an extension ladder. For all ladders, make sure the legs are set on a solid and level surface.
Begin cleaning the gutter near a downspout. Remove the large debris (leaves, twigs, etc.) with a trowel and dump it in a bucket. To clean out finer materials, flush the gutter lengths with a hose starting at the end opposite the downspout. Alternatively, you can use a gutter-cleaning attachment on a hose. If the water doesn’t drain, recheck the downspout strainer, and clean as necessary. If gutter water still doesn’t drain, the downspout may be clogged.
Check the drain end. If the downspout runs underground, remove it from the pipe as needed. Install a small nozzle on the hose and lock it at full pressure. Turn on the water and feed the hose up from the bottom of the spout. If this doesn’t clear the downspout or the nozzle is too big, use a plumber’s snake tool to clear the blockage. Reattach the downspout.
After flushing the gutter, if there is still standing water, the gutter may not be sloped correctly and will require adjustment. The length of the system should decline at least ¼” every 10’ toward the downspout. If the gutter doesn’t slope enough, detach the hangers and adjust the gutter enough to drain properly, then reattach. It may be easiest to work on small sections at a time to prevent the entire gutter system from falling. Inspect the gutter for obvious damage and missing parts. Support hangers should be spaced every 2’ along the gutter.
Repair any leaks in the gutter. Identify gutter leaks by filling the gutter with water, but make sure the gutters have dried before repairing. To repair leaks at the seams, make sure the gutter lengths are tight against each other, and run a bead of gutter sealant on both sides of all joints. To repair leaks at the end caps, add sealant along the inside of the joint. To repair holes in the gutter material, ask a Lowe’s associate for products designed to repair aluminum or fiberglass gutters.
Apply gutter touch-up paint to cover any blemishes as desired. If necessary, repaint some or all of the gutters in the home’s exterior color.
This article is excerpted from Lowe’s Creative Ideas magazine. For more information, please visit www.lowes.com.