It’s so easy to take for granted those things in our lives that are loyal and reliable, like our dogs that greet us after work every day and our cars that almost always start when we turn the key.
Our rain gutters fall into that category as well. However, they also have the ability to appear as though they’re doing their job when in fact they are failing.
The Coolest Gutter Ever (Image credit: Martin Lopatka)
Dirty, clogged or broken rain gutters can be damaging your home, causing wood rot and even promoting the growth of the dreaded toxic black mold. Let’s take a look at some facts and tips regarding the cleaning and maintenance of your gutters and related areas of your home.
Custom-made Gutters (Image credit: CTD 2005)
FACT: It doesn’t take too much debris to reduce the efficiency of your rain gutters. Your downspouts do not have to be completely blocked to cause problems. If water is backing up and beginning to rise to the level of your roofing materials, it will start to work its way under the membrane that keeps your home dry.
Image credit: Eric Schmuttenmaer
Even if you don’t have visible leaks in the interior rooms of your home, you might have the onset of water damage in your roof and attic.
Image credit: Nick Bramhall
TIP: Each year, inspect your roof and pressure wash your rain gutters. Look for stains in the attic that show water is coming in some place where it shouldn’t be. Thoroughly pressure wash your rain gutters. Remove all the debris and dirt from gutter walls. Those gutters need to send water down and away from your home with the speed and ease of a water park slide.
Hail Damage (Image credit: State Farm)
Image credit: Ben & Caz Askins
FACT: Improperly working rain gutters can cause damage to the walls of your home. It’s not just your roof that is threatened by ineffective rain gutters. If seams are leaking or gutters are overflowing, it can cause water to flow down the outside walls of your house. This can cause mold to grow on your exterior walls and eventually inside your home.
Ceiling Damage (Image credit: pfmurray88)
TIP: When you’re cleaning your gutters, do more than just remove the debris. Make sure that junctions, seams and hangers are in good shape. Check that gutters are straight. Leaning a ladder against your rain gutters can cause them to sag or bend, and this can lead to an overflow problem. Correct any deficiencies. If you see signs of mold on exterior siding, use the pressure washer to remove it.
Hairy Fungus (Image credit: Cyndy Sims Parr)
A powerful pressure washer with the right nozzle will also remove paint. That’s great if you’re planning to repaint, but not so wonderful if you aren’t. Be sure to use the proper settings.
FACT: Many wet basement and crawl space problems are caused by poorly functioning rain gutters and downspouts. Your rain gutter system should be designed to carry water away from the foundation of your house. If that’s not happening, water will pool and eventually work its way into your home.
Image credit: Isaac Wedin
TIP: After you pressure, clean your gutters, run water through them with your garden hose at full force. Watch what happens at your downspouts. Repair any broken parts. Make sure the grade (slope) of your yard carries water away from your home’s foundation. Take care of any erosion that may have occurred in the area.
Image credit: Monica D.
Here’s a final TIP: If you rent a pressure washer to clean your downspouts, get the most out of that rental and your money. Clean your driveway, siding, patio, deck and the greasy-grimy areas of your vehicles while you’re at it — just be sure you always use the right settings and nozzles.
Carrie Thompson, who works with Main Line Gutter Cleaning, fully appreciates a well-functioning gutter system after a deracho (tornado-like storm) hit her hometown recently.