Now that we’re enjoying the last few days of summer, it’s time to get your gutters ready for winter. For most homeowners, gutter maintenance is probably the least favourite chore. But cleaning the gutters is only a part of a thorough gutter system pre-winter prep routine – you should also inspect the roof, fascia and foundation. Check for signs of damage, cracks, and other potential problems that can impact the performance of the gutters during the upcoming winter months.
Inspect the Roof
Brush off any loose leaves, twigs, etc. before cleaning the gutters. This will help prevent any debris from the roof being blown into the gutter system. It will also give you a chance to check for any loosened shingles, vents and covers that need reattaching, or repairs that should be completed before the heavy rains arrive.
Clean the Gutters
Plan on cleaning the gutters after most of the autumn leaves have fallen. When using a ladder, ensure that it is on firm, level ground and that it’s high enough for you to work comfortably without stretching or overreaching. Start with removing loose material manually that comes away easily. Then look for leaves, pine needles, twigs and pods that have built up. These types of debris might be harder to get rid of without a scoop or wire brush, because they’ve been mixed with rain and dirt. If it’s become packed in the gutter channel, it needs to be completely removed to avoid potential clogs and blockages. Once the gutters are free of debris, run water through the system with a garden hose – make sure that the downspout is also free of material that can cause clogs.
Inspect the Fascia
Fascia covers the exposed ends of the rafters of the roof and the top of exterior walls immediately below the roof line. Examine the fascia boards where the gutters are attached for any wood rot, loosening hangers, fasteners or nails, and cracks or splitting.
Inspect the Foundation
Especially around the downpipe, examine the foundation for cracks, shifting or other changes in the ground up to 10 feet away from the exterior walls, and signs of water damage or leaks. Make any necessary repairs. Also check for pooling water. If required, use a splash block or downpipe extension to carry the water deposited from the downspout further away from the foundation.