Last week, we discussed the importance of setting aside time this spring to perform some maintenance and prepare your gutters for the spring rains and accompanying debris that are sure to tax your home’s gutter system. This week, let’s dig a little deeper into the issue with some tips to help you get the job done as efficiently as possible and some guidance should things go awry.

Gutter Maintenance Hacks

We tell no lies: gutter maintenance is no picnic. But there are some workarounds which will speed up your progress and save you some energy. You’ll be able to clear some debris by hand, but you can also put these tools to work to help make the job a little easier:

  • Garden hose: As you read last week, a garden hose is going to be your best friend for gutter cleaning; some garden hoses even have attachments that will increase their efficiency.
  • Leaf blower: Many companies offer attachments or kits that will allow you to adapt your leaf blower to quickly remove debris. This option will work best if the debris is dry.
  • Wet/dry vac: Attachments that extend the range of your wet-dry vac can be perfect for helping you clean your gutters without having to getting up on a ladder. Here’s a video to help you envision how it works.
  • Plumber’s snake: If you encounter a portion of your gutter that is particularly difficult to unclog, you may find that a plumber’s snake makes quick work of it.

Red Flags

With regular gutter maintenance, you can expect that your gutters will stay in pretty good shape. But if you’ve neglected this chore over the years, you may find some troublesome issues when you get started this spring. Douglas Trattner, writing for HouseLogic, compiled a helpful list of signs that your rain gutters may be clogged:

“When it rains, here are the telltale signs of a clogged gutter:

  • Water spills over the edges of a gutter.
  • Water sprays like a fountain from gutter seams and elbow joints.
  • Water doesn’t flow out the bottom of downspout extensions.

If it’s not raining, look for these telltale signs:

  • Eroded earth directly below a gutter.
  • Peeling paint on siding and fascia.
  • Wet, moist, or dirty siding beneath the gutter.
  • Gutters pulling away from the fascia (likely caused by excessive weight).”

You might encounter other issues, too. And as Donna Boyla Schwartz at BobVila.com explains: “problems to look for when cleaning gutters include holes, corrosion… and loose, bent, or missing fasteners. Holes should be plugged or caulked immediately. Sagging is often the result of loose or missing spikes, which should be tightened or replaced.” Don’t wait to address these issues! Water damage is a serious problem and can be quite expensive to remediate, so fixing these problems now is your best bet.

You may find that your gutters are far worse for the wear than you expected. In that case, replacing your gutters or investing in a gutter protection system may be a wiser investment. Gutter protection systems, sometimes referred to as gutter guards, block debris from entering your gutters while still allowing water to drain away from your home. By minimizing the amount of debris that ends up in your gutters, these systems decrease the amount of maintenance your gutters will require. As the folks over at AngiesList.com explain, gutter guards “can save you money by removing the necessity for professional cleaning. If you are used to cleaning your own gutters, it can eliminate the time you spend scooping leaves, seeds, animal feces and other goop from your gutters… Experts recommend cleaning your gutters at least once every two years, even with gutter guards and hoods installed. Still, that’s far better than the two or more times a year, [which is what] many homeowners spend cleaning uncovered gutters.”

So, are you ready to tackle this spring chore head-on? We’re here to help if you find that you’re in over your head!