A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep: Clean Your Gutters

January 10, 2013 5:41 pm

Even the best roofs will fail if they aren’t properly maintained. Some of this maintenance is only occasional, like cutting back tree limbs that have grown over the roof. Other types need to be repeated on a regular basis. In an area with erratic weather patterns like Oklahoma City, roofers are quick to point out that gutter cleaning is one of the ongoing requirements for keeping your roof and the rest of your house free of water damage.

Like most maintenance jobs, gutter cleaning is something that is much easier to get done if you make a point of doing it on a regular basis. If you’ve already decided to take better care of your house this year, just add your gutters to that resolution—and keep it!  Plus, by associating the task with the beginning of the year, it will be easier to remember when you did it last and when to do it again.

Regular gutter cleanings mean your roof will last a lot longer.

So, why go to the trouble of cleaning the muck out of your gutters in the first place? Dirty and clogged gutters do more than allow icicles to hang off of the side of the house. Those icicles might be Hallmark card-worthy, but there’s a lot going on behind them. The water that’s collected in the gutters isn’t just sitting there – because it can’t get down into the gutters, it’s likely to spread under the shingles and down the walls of the house (both interior and exterior). Once the water has moved down the walls, it will continue trickling downward to the lowest point in the house. It can leave rot and mold in its wake, as well as shorting out your wiring. Finally, the water that is trapped in the leaves in your gutter is heavy. Eventually, it becomes so weighty that it can cause your gutters to separate from your house.

Okay, okay – so now you know why you really, really need to clean those gutters regularly. Here’s how to do it.

  • You’ll need a ladder, gloves, a garden trowel or rake, and something to hold the debris you remove from the gutters. A regular-sized rake will be too big for the narrow canal formed by a gutter, so try a kid’s version if you want a longer reach than what a trowel gives you.
  • Work away from the downspout rather than towards it. This will keep debris from falling into it and causing clogs. As you fill up bags, just tie them off and let them drop to the ground. Use small bags so they don’t get too heavy when they’re full – large bags can end up weighing so much that you aren’t able to use them to capacity.
  • Note: If working with bags while high up on a ladder is too precarious for you, you can just throw the debris over the side loose. This will make a mess on the ground, but that can be raked up while you’re firmly in contact with the ground.
  • Once you’ve removed the buildup, hose the gutter out to make sure there aren’t any clogs or leaks. If there’s a clog in the downspout, try forcing it through with the high pressure from hose. If the hose doesn’t get the job done, a plumber’s snake will. Leaky gutters can be as bad as clogged ones when it comes to allowing water into your walls (and other places it shouldn’t go).

The most popular times for cleaning gutters are spring and fall. By doing it twice a year, you ensure that the job doesn’t become too massive. It also helps prevent clogs from forming. In the fall, it’s tempting to wait until the leaves stop falling. But leaves are a lot easier to remove than are snow and ice, so earlier in the year is usually better.

Of course, there is one solution that ensures that gutter cleaning will always be easy for you: have someone else do it! Professional Oklahoma City roofers like Van De Steeg can recommend a gutter cleaning company if they don’t do this work themselves. Either way, the most important thing is that your gutters stay clean and free-flowing so water can get away from your house without causing damage.