How to Care for Copper Gutters

Copper gutters add the ideal finishing touch to your home’s exterior. While treated copper gutters will retain their warm metal colour, untreated copper gutters develop a patina over time that turns the bright copper metal (oxidization process) to gray, silver, green, or green-blue depending on the local climate conditions. Here are some tips on how to care for your copper gutters.

Wear Cotton Gloves

When cleaning copper gutters with a patina, wear cotton gloves. This will protect the gutter system from coming into direct contact with your hands – oils, salts, and acids on the surface of your fingers can interact with the copper, damaging the metal by leaving spots on the surface. This will mar the perfection of the patina.

Whether your gutter system has already developed a patina or you are maintaining its shiny copper appearance, gloved hands will prevent you from leaving behind visible smudges and fingerprints that will be difficult to remove unless your hands are covered.

Clean them Thoroughly

Just like aluminum gutters, copper gutters and seamless copper gutters must be kept meticulously clean. Keep gutters free of debris by removing twigs, leaves, blossoms, pine cones, and other kinds of organic and inorganic materials from inside the gutter channels.

Use tools such as vinyl gutter scoops that won’t scratch metal. However, it’s still possible to scratch the copper – be careful to not apply too much pressure when using plastic scoops and scrapers.

Check soldered seams and screens on gutters and downspouts that they have been cleaned and don’t have places where debris can be snagged.

Don’t Mix and Match

While it might be easier on your budget to use less expensive gutter materials if you plan on upgrading parts of the gutter system, it will harm the integrity of your curb appeal. When adding accessories such as downspout extensions, replacing the downspouts or extending the gutter run always use copper. If you don’t, the other gutter materials will detract from the overall appeal and value of copper gutters.

To Keep that Copper Shine

 While many homeowners purchase copper gutters knowing that they develop that famous blue-green patina, some people prefer to keep their copper gutter system shiny like new.

To Keep the Original Colour

If the copper gutters on your home are untreated and haven’t yet started to display signs of a green patina, you can return them to their original metal tones by doing the following:

  • Mix four cups of flour, salt, and vinegar in a plastic pail to create a paste
  • Clean one gutter section at a time
  • Use a soft-bristle brush
  • Dip the brush into the pail until its completely covered
  • Apply the paste in a small circular motion
  • Wipe off the cleaning paste with a soft, lightly damp cloth
  • Inspect each section for an evidence of remaining traces of paste or tarnish
  • Once the copper has been thoroughly clean, prevent further oxidization from occurring by adding an anti-oxidant coating – consult with a home improvement or hire a gutter company that specializes in copper gutter installations

There are eco-friendly copper gutter cleaning products available from home improvement stores and other retail outlets.

To Slow Down the Oxidization Process

Slow down the patina process by cleaning the outside surface of the gutter system with a solution of mild liquid dish soap and water. Don’t forget the downspouts.

If the tarnish reappears before three months, use a reliable metal cleaner to polish the gutters instead of washing them with dish detergent.

Focus on the front of the gutters – the tarnish inside the gutters won’t harm them and it’s not visible to visitors.

For areas of tarnish that don’t respond to being polished with a metal cleaner, use the above recipe for to make a copper cleaning paste. Cut the recipe by half since you will only need small amounts to remove tarnish from specific areas.