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Cleaning Gutters

Gutters play a key role in weather-proofing our homes. It's too bad that so many of us forget about them and let them get dirty and clogged up! Gutters help make sure that rain doesn't run off the roof and fall too close to the house. By keeping gutters free-flowing, you can keep water flowing away from your house. By keeping water flowing away from your house, you protect the foundation of the house, protect siding from stains and keep walkways free of ice when the winter falls upon us.

When to Do It
At the very minimum, you should be treating your gutter system to a thorough cleaning at least twice a year: once in the spring and once in the fall. To start the cleaning, get your ladder out of the garage, basement or closet. Place it against the house in such a way that it is secure but still allows you to reach the gutters easily. Ensure that the ladder does not rest directly on the gutters; this can damage them badly! A worthwhile option to consider is gutter attachments that permit you to raise your ladder higher without causing damage to your gutters.

Get a Hand Full
Once you're up there, slip on those rubber gloves, reach into the gutters and pick out any debris that you can. It might be worthwhile to have a garbage bag, pail or bucket nearby so you can throw the debris out directly, rather than make a mess around your house and have to do another cleaning session once you're done the gutters. While you're up there, have a hammer and some nails handy in case you need to hammer in or replace loosened nails.

Next, spray down the gutters using a water hose to remove any small debris, too small for you to fish out with your gloved hands. Spray until you see clear water flowing out from the downspout. If the water is having difficulty flowing out, that means there is still debris clogging up some part of the gutter. In this case, or if the downspout flows directly into a main drain, disassemble the downspout joint from the gutter by removing retaining screws and pulling it downward.

The Last Few Steps
Once you've removed the downspout, spray water through it until it flushes clean. Stubborn clogs may require the use of an auger. Before you put the downspout back onto the gutter, scrape off the adhesive from the hardware and check the downspout and the gutter to make sure there is no evidence of damage or dents. Then, place a silicone sealant around the downspout attachment and slip the downspout back into its original place. Remember, you need to replace the retaining hardware so that the downspout is fastened securely to the gutter.

Give the sealant some time to dry, then spray water down the gutter system. This step is done to ensure that the gutter system is watertight, and that the water flows out correctly. If it still doesn't, there may be some damage and you might want to consider calling a professional.

Hammer Need help with your gutters? Visit our Roofing forum for useful advice.