Tips to Prepare Your Gutters for Winter

While the weather has mostly been kind to us here in Metro Vancouver, the reality is we are heading into winter. Investing some time and energy now in your home’s exterior will help ward off any potential disasters during the holiday season. Use these simple tips to prepare your gutters for winter.

Gutter Cleaning

Clean the gutters. Remove all of the debris from inside the gutters and downspouts. The best time to do this is after the leaves have dropped from the branches. Be prepared to clean gutters more than twice a year if you have a lot of trees on your property.

For extra curb appeal, wash the outside of the gutters closer to the holidays. Not only will it add some sparkle to your home’s exterior, it will remove grime, dirt, and other environmental pollutants that can wear away the gutters’ protective finish and shorten the lifespan of the gutter system.

If you have already cleaned the gutters this fall, plan to inspect the gutters before the New Year. Remove any debris that you might discover. Check to see that the downpipes are clear of blockages by inserting the garden hose into the gutter outlet and running water through the downspout. If water doesn’t flow freely from the bottom downspout elbow, check the pipe for clogs; remove them if you find any.

Inspect the Gutters

A quick and easy way to inspect the gutters is to check the siding at the roofline. If the siding displays signs of water damage, the gutter system most likely is leaking somewhere. You will want to find the source of the leak and repair it before winter sets in.

The best time to see if a gutter system is leaking at the seams is to do it when it’s raining. Stand underneath the eaves and look up. Examine the places where two gutter troughs are joined together. Walk along the entire length of the gutter run to see if water is escaping from any seams.

While stained siding can be an indication of overflowing gutters, gutter troughs pulling away from the fascia might be because of loose brackets, nails, or fasteners. Also look for cracks, holes, and red streaks (rust), typical signs of deterioration or corrosion.

Inspect the Downspouts

Make sure the downspouts are firmly attached to the siding or exterior wall and the top of the pipe is connected to the gutter outlet. Check for missing or loose hardware. If you have aluminum gutters and downspouts, inspect the downpipes for dents. Missing or medium to very obvious-sized dented sections need to be repaired as soon as possible to keep them working through the winter months.

Repair the Gutters

 When cleaning the gutters and you’ve noticed that brackets are loose, a trough is pulling away from the fascia, or there’s standing water inside the gutter channel take note of these issues; plan on making repairs as soon as possible.

Especially if there is standing water in the gutter system but it is free of debris, this is typically an indication that the gutter slope needs readjusting. To drain water properly gutters need to be slightly sloped toward the gutter outlets and the downspouts.

You don’t want to wait too long before taking action. Prioritize repairs by the amount of potential damage they might do. For example, one or more deeply dented troughs restrict the flow of water through the gutter system causing blockages and/or overflowing. Holes or separated seams allow water to escape.