Cleaning and maintaining roof gutters and downpipes are probably the most neglected maintenance issues in a home. However, clogged gutters can have disastrous effect on your house. Water overflowing and seeping down walls can damage the foundation, apart from the high costs of exterior repairs and re-plastering.
Regular check-up can easily solve this problem. If you feel that climbing a ladder for inspection and cleaning is not your cup of tea, have an annual maintenance contract with a professional roof gutter cleaning agency to do it for you. The charges will be far less than what you would incur for repairing your house from the effects of a leaking gutter.
However, if you are truly a DIY person, you can follow these simple tips to ensure that your roof gutters and downpipes are always in excellent condition.
Physical inspection, problem identification
Climb a ladder on to the roof and check if the gutters are clogged. If so, the reason in all probability will be fallen leaves mixed with moisture, dirt and dust. Check the downspouts too as leaves and debris blocking it will stop the water from draining out properly.
Next scoop the mixture out of the gutters but do not throw it away. It will make excellent compost for your garden. Another thing that you should look for is holes in the gutters and cracked caulking in the seams. These will be the main cause of leaks in your gutters. With an old chisel, gently scrape the old caulking and dry out that spot. Then apply new bead silicon over the area so that water cannot get behind the gutters and rot out the boards.
At this stage, examine the downspouts for any loose rivets. Some may have even loosened and dropped out completely. These weak joints if not repaired will not be able to take the load of rush of water. Take a rivet gun and put new rivets in place.
Cleaning the gutters
Once the problems have been identified and rectified the next step is to clean the gutters. The best way is to pressure wash the gutters. A pressure washer can be purchased or rented. Attach it to a garden hose and follow the instructions for using it.
Using a pressure washer on the roof gutters is absolutely safe provided it is fully secured with screws or new spikes. However the real trick is to make the water hit the gutters at the right angle. Too high an angle and you risk blowing the shingles or tiles off the roof.
Post cleaning inspection
Once the gutters and downpipes have been cleaned of the muck and dried out, take a long hard look at it and assess its condition. If the gutters are very old, they will probably be rusting at places. Get all the rust off by sandpapering the affected portions and then painting with a good quality primer and a rust inhibiting paint. But if large portions have been affected, it is always advisable to change the gutters and switch to aluminium or vinyl gutters. They are very durable and do not rust.
A splash block is a crucial element in overall roof gutter maintenance. It takes water coming out of the downspouts away from the foundation of the house without having to dig a trench around it.
While all this might seem to be a long and tedious process, in reality it is not so if you carry out periodical inspection and cleaning of roof gutters and downpipes. The work involved then will be much less.