The Best Rain Gutter Maintenance Tips Before & After a Storm

gutter maintenance

Due to the pandemic, most of us are spending more time at home than ever before. As hurricane season rapidly approaches, there are a handful of things every homeowner considers. How secure are the windows? Will the basement flood? Is my garage at risk? Rain gutter maintenance tends to be one of the last things homeowners think about, and is usually the first thing that needs to be addressed this time of year.

Most local gutter companies will advise you to clear your gutters twice a year – once in the spring and again mid-autumn. However, if you reside in an area with bountiful trees, you will need to clean that gutter more often. Even with gutter guards and additional methods of proactive gutter protection, the best rain gutter installation can be ruined if not cared for properly.

This may be an arduous task, but the few hours spent cleaning your gutters can save you thousands of dollars of damage after a storm.

Why Clean Your Gutters?

Designed to clear away excess water and debris, rain gutters work best when they are free of leaves and other gunk that can collect there. Even if you’ve spent top dollar on the best rain gutter on the market, you’ll still need to keep them clean. Clogged gutters can lead to thousands of dollars of damage to the rest of your house, so it’s always best to practice good gutter maintenance.

More often than naught, when most folks think of cleaning the gutters, they picture digging their hands in muck that’s been in their gutters for months. It may eventually come to that, but only if you don’t stay on top of your gutter maintenance.

Work Smarter Not Harder

Once you’ve decided to clean out your gutter, there are some handy tricks to make the job less daunting.

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  • Safety First – Make sure to use sturdy gloves, preferably with a suede palm to collect and remove any debris. Safety goggles will come in handy in case you need to give something a good tug to get it free. Also be sure to have a buddy nearby to call a doctor or an ambulance, in case of any injuries you may sustain.
  • Use a Ladder – This might go without saying, but walking on your roof to lean down to clean out a gutter is terribly unsafe. An extended ladder is best suited for this job. If you must climb on top of your roof, using a broom or a rake to clear the gutters instead of bending over is ideal.
  • A Clean, Dry Workspace – Before you actually clean the gutters themselves, be sure to clear the roof of any leaves, twigs, or branches so the next rain won’t undo all the hard work you’re about to put in. Waiting till midday to start this project means you’ll be able to use a leaf blower or a broom on that dry debris, instead of sinking your hands into the muck.
  • Check Those Guards – If you happen to have gutter guards installed, you may not have as much work cut out for you as someone with unprotected gutters. Still, it’s prudent to make sure that they’re secured properly before a large storm rolls in because high winds can rip them clean off. Even the slightest bit of wobbling will be enough for a gale to take your guards with it.
  • Downspouts – Finally, make sure you check your downspouts for any blockages or clogging. Great gutter maintenance definitely involves a clean downspout. A long, flexible wand with a brush at the end should be able to handle most clogged spouts, though you might have to get a bit creative with extending a handle’s length if the clog is hard-to-reach.

Alternative Tools

A leaf blower can make quick work of clearing leaves and other debris. However, certain conditions can make using a leaf blower an exercise of futility. In some instances, a power washer can do a better job of clearing your roof and gutters of leaves and branches.

But even this can come with its own challenges – power washers and leaf blowers alike can scatter debris all over your house and yard. If you’re looking to eliminate that extra step, a wet/dry vacuum will over all the bases. You’ll definitely need an extension attachment to meet the roof, but doing so will prevent the tedious cleanup portion later on.

After the Storm

Let’s say the storm has passed and your house has survived in one piece. This is a great time to check the strength of your gutter protection. If your gutter guards are still in place after a storm, it wouldn’t hurt to secure them a bit tighter to ensure they can last through even stronger winds.

If the storm did in fact make off with your guards, the best course of action would be to replace them as soon as possible. Waiting will only mean you’ll have to clean future debris from your gutters.

Protect Your Gutters

Neglecting to clean your gutters prior to a storm can result in your gutters overflowing. The extra weight of water and debris can cause that gutter to tear away from your roof, meaning you’ll then have to replace both your gutters and the damaged parts of your roof.

Gutter overflow can also result in a cracked foundation, which can cost upwards of $10,000, depending on which state you live in. Unresolved foundation cracks can lead to basement leaks, which can lead to additional flooding and provides an optimal environment for mold to develop. At that point, you’ll have not one, but two separate sources of water damage to repair, as well as a pesky outbreak of mold that can reach other parts of the house if left unchecked.

These are some pretty steep consequences to deal with. Fortunately, all of these problems are avoidable, and can each be prevented by proper gutter maintenance.

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