A good gutter system is a homeowner’s number one defense against siding rot, foundation damage, and warped window frames. When inclement weather causes damage to the gutters, they become incapable of collecting water from the roof and guiding it away from your home’s exterior. A gutter system becomes even more vulnerable during the winter months as fluctuating temperatures cause water to freeze/thaw, and winds begin to buffet gutter troughs and the fascia that supports them. But it’s not just the elements that contribute to the problem. Here are some tips on how to prevent gutter damage.
Regular Gutter Maintenance
The best way to prevent gutter damage is to keep them in good shape. Regular gutter maintenance includes:
- clearing out debris from gutter troughs
- cleaning gutter trough surfaces, both inside and out to remove environmental pollutants
- doing minor repairs such as re-caulking worn seams to prevent the formation of rust on aluminum gutters
- inspecting the gutter system after seasonal storms for loose hardware, missing gutter sections, and shifted downspouts and/or downspout extenders
Eliminate Bad Maintenance Habits
Attacking the dirty job of cleaning the gutters with a power washer or scrubbing the gutter trough with a stiff bristle brush makes sense if you want to clean the gutters in as short a time as possible. To prevent gutter damage when maintaining the gutter system, here are some maintenance habits to avoid:
- Don’t use gutter cleaning tools that will scratch the surface of metal gutters – use plastic scoops and soft bristle brushes.
- Since aluminum gutters can be dented with a minimum of pressure, don’t lean ladders directly against the gutters.
- Don’t use harsh chemicals – they can harm the finish of the gutter system.
- A pressure washer can push water in behind gutters where it might not dry out, allowing rot, mold or mildew to form – use a garden hose with a spray nozzle instead.
Commercial Grade Gutter Materials
Whether your gutter system is made of aluminum, copper or vinyl, the thickness of the gutter material is a contributing factor to the gutters’ durability and strength. Aluminum gutters, for example, are easily dented by hail, heavy rain, and miscellaneous items such as baseballs and toys. Several small dents over time might not negatively affect your gutters. However, large dents can impede how efficiently water flows through the gutter channel, encouraging debris to build up. Gutters made from higher gauge metals will help prevent damage caused by impact.