Most homeowners are aware that gutters should ideally be cleaned twice a year, usually once in the spring and again in the fall after most of the trees have shed their leaves. But gutters can easily become clogged with leaves and debris, particularly after a heavy rainfall or a blustery wind storm. A quick inspection of your rain gutters following rough weather could save you expensive repairs down the road.
Some simple gutter maintenance tips include:
- Pooled water around the downspout up to 48 hours after a rain storm could be an indication of a blocked downpipe – flush with a garden hose; if flushing with water still doesn’t clear the downspout, use a plumber’s snake or auger to remove the debris
- Pooled water inside the gutters up to 48 hours after a rainfall might be a sign that they have shifted enough that the slope is off – to properly direct the water to the downspout and drain it away, gutters should slope a 1/4 inch for every 10 feet of gutter
- Ensure that dirt blown into your gutter system does not become encrusted – use a stiff, all-purpose brush to scrub away problem spots
- Clear away any obvious obstructions such as tennis balls, birds nests, etc. that could become problematic if left unattended
- Because they support the gutters, check the fascia boards of your home periodically for dry rot or mold – if you do find signs of damage, replace affected areas with matching boards
- Regularly check downspouts and gutters for rust spots, flaking or peeling paint – when they are too numerous in one area to repair individually, consider replacing that section of gutter or downpipe
You will also want to make sure that any leaks that occur, typically around the seams of the gutters or at the gutter elbows, are repaired as soon as possible. While you generally have to get up close and personal to check for problems, if you don’t have time to set up the ladder and do a more extensive assessment, often a quick visual inspection after a storm might be enough to alert you to dents that need attention or sagging gutters due to gutter spikes or fasteners coming loose.