How do I maintain my gutters?

gutters along a tile roof

How often should gutters be cleaned?

Those gutters on your home aren’t just for décor purpose. So, when they are broken or malfunctioning, professional gutter system repair is just as important to your home as your plumbing system. As a homeowner, you want to have a routine gutter cleaning and maintenance about the same time you have your HVAC system professional inspected and serviced. On your list of service companies, add a gutter maintenance company too! 

It is surprising how quick a gutter system can get clogged. With only a few leaves, even less pine needles, will form a blockage. If you don’t realize there is a blockage, the water backs up and often pushes up under the shingles, then you have a roof leak. Or, if there is a lot of debris, adding water to this will lead to needing professional gutter system repair or replacement. 

To keep your gutter system clean and flowing, avoiding any misdirection of water and damage, routine basic gutter maintenance and cleaning is essential. How often can be determined by the type of trees you have around your home and in the neighborhood.  So, just how often do you need your gutters cleaned and maintained to avoid gutter system repair, or worse? 

Twice a year will remove any debris like leaves, limbs, and twigs. A good timetable for gutter cleaning is to coincide with any of these homeowner tasks:

  • Smoke detector battery change
  • Outdoor light bulb change
  • Vehicle tire rotation
  • Daylight Savings Time clock resetting 

However, you should have your gutters cleaned after a significant weather event. The high winds can blow in more debris and leaves than normal, and if the storm had hail, you could need gutter system repair. A home with a lot of trees should have a gutter cleaning three to four times a year, especially if those trees are pine trees. 

Can I clean my gutters myself?

If you don’t mind heights and have a ladder, yes, many homeowners do their own gutter cleaning. Keep in mind that a professional contractor will have all the equipment needed for gutter system repair and cleaning. You may need to purchase some items to do your own gutter cleaning. Use the following steps for gutter cleaning: 

  • You’ll need a good extendable ladder, rubber gloves, eye protection, and wear long pants and sleeves.
  • Spread a plastic sheet or tarp where you’re working. 
  • Position the ladder on a flat and sturdy surface.  
  • Using a small plastic shovel or scoop, clean out all the gunk in the gutter runs. This is why you need the sheet or tarp in place, so you can toss the gunk down. 
  • Using a water hose at full blast, flush the gutter runs out toward the downspouts  then flush the downspouts. At this time, you’ll know if you need gutter system repairs or replacement. 
  • After you flushed the gutter system, make any gutter system repairs you’ve found, replacing any hanger or gutter sections as needed. 

Now that you have done this once, you’ll find it easy to do the next time. Or you may decide you have other things to do on your Saturdays and hire a professional contractor next time. 

What is the fastest way to clean gutters?

A fast and straightforward method for gutter cleaning is to climb a ladder, taking a leaf blower with you. Then walk along the roof edge, blowing into the gutter run.  If you’re not fond of heights, you can purchase an extension to your leaf blower and do this from the ground, however, you may not get all the blockages cleared in this matter. 

You can also use a power washer, be careful not to knock the gutter runs off the hooks or you’ll be paying for gutter system repair and gutter cleaning.  Sometimes, a water hose at full blast isn’t strong enough to get the wet leaves and debris out of the gutter runs. Either of these methods will require placing a plastic sheet or tarp in the area where you’re cleaning. 

If the tarp and clean up afterward isn’t appealing, you can clean your gutters with a shop vac and an extension.  This would clean the gutters and keeps the debris in one place where you just empty into a trash bag. 

How do you maintain gutters and downspouts?

Keeping your gutter system clean will keep it functioning and keep you from needing gutter system repairs. A few simple steps is all it takes:

  • Step One – Gutter Inspections: Before  gutter cleaning, inspect to see what gutter system repair may be needed.  Gutter sections with corrosion, holes, split joints, bent or missing hangers. Make these repairs first and then proceed with the cutter cleaning. While you’re cleaning, you may notice more gutter system repairs needed. You can do those after you’re done. 
  • Step Two – Gutter Cleaning: Follow the instructions we provided above. Getting the stuck debris out first then use water, a leaf blower, or a shop vac to clear the debris out. 
  • Step Three – Unclog the Downspout: If the downspouts are clogged, clear gutter runs aren’t going to do much good. Start by removing the elbow and run hard pressure water through the top of the downspout. You can use a plumber snake to get stubborn clogs the water hose doesn’t push out. 

It can’t be repeated and stressed enough the importance of gutter maintenance and repairs. From the roof being damaged to the siding of your home, the foundation, and more, clean gutter that are functioning properly are important to your home. 

white gutter system and soffit

What happens if you don t clean your gutters?

  • Foundation Damage: When water can’t flow through the gutter, is spills over and ponds around the foundation, softening the soil and causing the foundation to crack. 
  • Wood Rot: Overflowing gutters usually means water is trapped behind the gutters too and there it rots the fascia and soffit boards.
  • Roof Leak: Gutters that are cleaned will cause water to back up under the shingles, onto the decking, and then a roof leak appears. 
  • Insects:  Insects love nothing better than moist dark places to create an infestation they call home.
  • Leaky Basement: If the foundation can be ruined, a basement can have leaks! 
  • Damaged Landscape: As the water ponds around the foundation, it is flooding and killing your flowers, plants, and washing away any mulch.

Let’s get started on your gutters needs in Austin, TX. Call (512) 299-6576 for Freetail Roofing today!