A visual ground inspection will show some of the gutter repairs that need to be done. The best time to inspect the gutter system is during a heavy rain. Look for rain gushing over the end of a gutter, which indicates a problem such as improper pitch of the gutters when they were installed, missing end caps, or most probable, a clogged outlet due to vegetative debris. The most common spouting clogging culprits are the ‘helicopter’ maple tree seeds. A sign of this can be miniature maple trees actually growing in the gutter. Tree leaves or bird nests are also a problem. The old, half-round steel gutters are not really large enough to accommodate heavy rainfall loads. The five inch, K-profile is today’s standard gutter, and are most commonly made of aluminum, although steel is still available. When buying new gutters, don’t let a shady contractor substitute cheaper painted steel gutters for the same price as aluminum. Steel spouting will lose its paint and start to rust out after about two decades.
Clean out gutters seasonally. If you have a two story home, it is important to follow safety guidelines foremost if you are planning on doing it yourself, including ladder set-up safety, and always having another person on-site, but hiring a spouting contractor is a safe and inexpensive option. One story homes with a low pitched roof, such as a 4/12 or similar pitch, can be more safely done by the homeowner. The easiest way is to go on the roof, and clean it at the roof’s edge. A power washer is the easiest way to clean the gutters, or a garden hose with an adjustable nozzle can be a decent substitute. Lumber yards actually sell a disposable plastic trough tool that is specifically made to help clean out debris, and these can be very handy. Also make sure the downspout isn’t clogged. Never use a power washer to blow water down a downspout, however. A common garden hose has an acceptable pressure for this task. Should the water not blow out the downspout in a satisfactory manner, disassemble the downspout to clean it, beginning with the elbows.
Drains must also be cleaned. Sometimes the underground drain is clogged as well. This can be difficult to clean. Take out the downspout at ground level where it enters the drain pipe, then put a garden water hose in and push in water at full blast. If it doesn’t take water from a residential garden hose at normal water pressure, then it is clogged. It will need to be ‘snaked’ or even dug out. Hiring a professional may be the best advice in this situation. Underground water drain pipes sometimes develop an airlock, which needs to be alleviated. A vent breather can be installed. Although unusual, this can happen.
Have all gutters and spouting in tip-top shape and you won’t need to urge the rain to go away.
Published: April 24, 2012