With fall fast approaching, it’s time to start paying some attention to your home’s gutters. Falling leaves and wet weather threaten the integrity of your roof, and a gutter backup can cause water damage to your foundations throughout the rainy seasons and winter. With some prevention and planning, you can ensure that your home is ready for the upcoming seasons while it’s still warm enough for outdoor chores.

With this guide, we’ll cover the basics on water issue prevention and gutter maintenance. Next week we’ll talk about improvements you can make to your water drainage system, and when replacement is necessary.

Roof and Foundation Damage Prevention Steps

Many of the more expensive gutter maintenance projects can be prevented through simple vigilance and preparation at the end of summer.

The first step is to comprehensively inspect your gutters at the beginning of fall, the earlier the better. You’ll want to identify not just debris and blockages for cleaning, but also potential damage or leaks. Look out for sagging or places where the gutters have come apart from the house. Check for sections of your gutter that no longer line up snugly. If you’re unable to access the gutters safely or are unable to identify any of the issues you find, the best move is to call a professional immediately.

Next, you’ll want to thoroughly clean your gutters. The minimum is one full cleaning in late August or early September, but if your property has a lot of nearby trees dropping leaves, you may want to do as much as once a month. Be sure to remove every leaf, seed, and piece of debris, and don’t neglect your downspouts.

A great way to prevent issues and minimize necessary cleanings is to trim branches and vegetation near your roof. When selecting trees to trim down, keep in mind the extreme winds of fall. It’s better to remove branches liberally than face maintenance issues down the line. A tree care professional can help you trim your trees safely.

Gutter Maintenance Steps

The next step is to resolve any of the issues you identified during your inspection. Be sure to plug and fill holes and cracks with silicone or caulk, as heavy rain and the stress of winter can exacerbate these issues and severely damage your gutters.

If you’ve identified any sagging in your gutters, you can avoid replacement by installing new gutter hangers in problem areas. Make sure that hangers are installed every 3 ft. and securely fixed to rafters.

Next, make sure your end caps aren’t leaking, and apply sealer if you think there’s a chance that they are.

Finally, if you’ve noticed water running down the wall behind your gutters, it means that your flashing or gutter apron have worn out. Replacing these can be especially complex, as the gutter will have to be partially or fully removed, so you’ll likely need a professional.

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week with tips on how to repair or replace your gutters.