If more building owners and facilities managers knew the proper way to clean out their roof gutters, there would be fewer injuries and deaths and far less property damage. Fall is the season when gutters are cleaned out in preparation for the rainy or snowy season ahead. If the rainwater doesn’t flow properly through the gutter and downspout system, costly repairs can add up from rainwater damage or freezing.
It’s time to clean out those clogged gutters, and to do it safely
There are a variety of gutter cleaning tips that can bring sanity into this tedious task. Some of the basics detailed by Lenney are listed below.
Practice Ladder Safety
Always let someone know you will be using a ladder to work on your building’s roof or gutters.
Use a safe and sturdy ladder, preferably one with a small shelf strong enough to hold a five-gallon bucket to collect gutter debris, and make sure to secure the bucket with a lanyard.
A four-legged step ladder is good for a single-story structure, and an extension ladder is ideal for a two-story or taller facility.
An orchard ladder is not recommended because there are only three legs for support and they can become unbalanced.
A wooden ladder is also not recommended because they are often wobbly and difficult to safely balance.
Fiberglass ladders seem to be the sturdiest, but are also the heaviest.
If you are cleaning gutters for hours upon hours, muscle fatigue can set in from moving the heavy ladder numerous times.
If this is the case, you should try using an aluminum ladder, which is the second-choice option for strength and support.
Inspect the ladder for defects, dents or loose parts before climbing.
If your ladder is fastened together with screws and bolts, make sure all parts are tightened.
When opening up a step ladder, make sure the extension-hinge arms are fully extended and locked in place
Utilize A Garden Hose
Use a garden hose with a pistol-grip trigger spray nozzle.
This type of spray nozzle allows you to adjust the water pressure with the use of just one hand.
A pistol-grip trigger spray nozzle can be easily hung over the front edge of the gutter while moving the ladder or while using a gutter scoop.
This type of spray nozzle can be purchased at any hardware store
Get A Gutter Scoop
Scooping out the leafy debris seems to be the best overall method for cleaning out gutters.
An excellent tool for this job is a plastic scooping tool, which can be purchased at most hardware stores.
Plastic scooping tools are unique because the front scooping edge is very thin and forms itself to the bottom of the gutter trough, making it easy to scoop out even the toughest debris in any size gutter system.
Stay away from using a metal scooping tool because the bottom of the gutter and seams can be damaged and scratched.
Scraping the bottom of a steel gutter can introduce areas to rust, and if the bottom of the gutter is already rusting, the rusting process could speed up.
Protect Your Hands
Gloves can help protect hands against dirty, rotting leaf debris that often contains bird, pigeon and squirrel droppings that are ridden with bacteria.
Gloves can also prevent painful cuts from the torn metal shards of an old, ragged gutter.
Cotton gloves can soak up dirty water that exposes skin to bacteria.
Leather gloves are not as maneuverable and tend to shrivel up when they dry after cleaning.
Rubber gloves can get poked or torn by metal shards in the gutter.
Thick, suede glove material is recommended because it is superior to cotton, thin leather or rubber gloves.
Protect Your Eyes
Eye protection is a must because one never knows what might fly out of the downspout when cleaning gutters. People have experienced rats, birds, frogs, wasps and bees leaving at high speeds once they start removing a clog, and the last thing they want to have happen is an eye injury.
Clean Off The Roof
Rake or power wash all debris off the roof first. Otherwise, the next rain will wash all the debris down into the clean gutter, clogging it up again. Also, debris left on the roof can lead to water damming up in valleys, around the chimney or near heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, which can cause erosion and roof leaks over time.
Consider Rubber Shoes
If walking on the roof is necessary to perform gutter cleaning, it is good to use rubber-soled shoes. Rubber soles tend to adhere best and prevent slip-and-fall incidents. Rooftops tend to be moist in the morning, so it is best to walk on the roof after the sun is well up in the sky and has dried up all the moisture. Late mornings or early afternoons are the best times to walk on a roof.
Unclog The Downspouts
Make sure the downspouts are clear. After all the gutters are cleaned out, run the water hose down the downspout at full pressure. If the water backs up out of the top, a clog is present. Normally, it can be unclogged by tapping on the side of the downspout. But, if that doesn’t work, the downspout and back need to be removed, and it should be flushed from the bottom. If a clog is present and the downspout is connected to an underground drain, it is best to disconnect the bottom of the downspout from the underground drain. Otherwise, the clog may move to the underground drain.
Schedule Semiannual Cleanings
Make sure your gutters are cleaned at least twice a year: Once in the fall and again in the spring. One main reason for cleaning out gutters is to eliminate the possibility of water damage from rainwater runoff due to a clogged gutter. Another reason is to reduce the possibility of rust corrosion.Even though it may not rain during the summer, if there is debris in the steel gutters, the rusting process can speed up. It’s difficult for rust to speed up with clean gutters. The faster the rusting process, the sooner new gutters will be needed.
Be Mindful Of Power Line Hazards
When cleaning gutters around a power line cable that drops from the power pole to the roof of a building, conduct a visual inspection of the electrical cable where it connects to the roof. This is to ensure that the protective wire insulation hasn’t rubbed off through years of wear-and-tear by weather and nearby trees. If the cable appears to have damage, do not attempt to repair it; instead, call a licensed professional electrical contractor to fix it. If it’s raining and there is an electrical wire problem, do not attempt to clean out the gutters until the wires are fixed; water is a dangerous conductor of electricity. Whether it’s raining or not, it would be a good idea to have the electrical wiring repaired before cleaning out your gutters.
Invest In Gutter Guards
Using a quality gutter guard can eliminate the need for cleaning out gutters. Consider carefully the manufacturer’s claims before purchasing a gutter protection system that keeps out leaves and pine needles because many promises are made that can’t be delivered.
WHAT IS GUTTER FLASHING?
Tags:gutter, gutter installation, gutter repair
The roof of a home and the siding are the first barriers protecting the inside from wind and water, so protecting them is essential in maintaining a safe home. Gutters are also crucial, bringing the roof and the siding together. Gutter, flashing, rafter, fascia, soffit, bargeboard; there are a lot of parts that make up the entire eave, or the part of the roof that hangs over the walls of a building. When it comes to installing, maintaining and repairing these parts, it’s best to contact a professional. Exteriors can help you with gutter repair and other roofing or siding needs.
Gutter RepairWHAT IS GUTTER FLASHING?
Gutter flashings are installed beneath the roof line and inside the gutter itself. This will prevent water from running behind a gutter and leaking into the building materials causing damage. They are usually 10 feet long, but can be made to fit specific roofs. Gutter flashings are commonly made from aluminum or plastic. Aluminum will last longer, but plastic can also adapt to complex gutter systems. In some markets in the south, roof decking stops short a few inches before the rafter ends, leaving shingles to hang over the edge leaving room for water to seep in. This is when gutter flashing needs to be installed. Shingles will last longer, damage will be minimized, and it will add a neat look to the edge of the roof when flashing is installed.
Often times small holes will occur that can be repaired, or the entire flashing will need to be replaced. When fixing a small hole there are a couple of steps involved. When there is a hole ¾ inch or smaller, it can be patched with the same material as the flashing. Roughen the area with sandpaper and then clean it. Cut a piece of patch that is larger than the hole and use roofing cement to stick the patch over the hole. Use more cement to cover the entire patch.
REPLACING OR MAINTAINING FLASHING
When the flashing is too damaged to patch and needs to be replaced completely, unless you have the skills and experience with roofing, it’s time to call a professional. For flashing or gutter installation and help with gutter maintenance, Exteriors and we can assist you with any gutter repairs. When you are inspecting flashing or gutters for damage, it is most likely the metal that is deteriorating. With enough time the places where flashing is used can rust, so check between roof planes, skylights, chimneys, and along the roof’s edge. Damaged flashing will affect the shingles as well, so look for loose nails and holes. Roofing cement and caulking will become dry and cracked over time and eventually crumble, which exposes joints to the wind and water. If this is the case, scrape away old caulking and recaulk.