Your gutters may be the last thing on your mind when winter weather hits, but it’s important to be prepared. Clogged and sagging gutters can become even more damaged with the weight of excess standing water, debris, and ice, leading to serious and costly home damage.
Many property owners are under the assumption that they’ll only need to worry about their gutters during the spring, summer and fall months. After all, that’s the only time it’s going to rain, right? While that may be true for some states, here in South Louisiana, we never know when a northern front will present itself or the moisture of the Gulf takes over and just consistently dumps rains for days in the winter months.
In this post, we’ll discuss five tips that you should be doing to properly care for your gutters this winter. Taking some steps during the fall months before cold weather sets in can help ensure that your gutters are working well when they need to this winter season.
Gutter Maintenance & Tips
1. Clean the leaves and debris out of your gutters
Clean out the gutters and downspouts. Gutters are often clogged by leaves and other debris. And when they are, it can greatly impact the water flow and disrupt proper drainage. It’s suggested that property owners clean out their gutters at least twice a year, and one of these cleanings should occur during the fall months. If rains and ice melt off the roof isn’t allowed to drain properly during the winter, it’s likely to freeze within the gutters, adding more weight to them and potentially causing the gutters to pull away from the roof line or sag, which can cause additional damage to exterior of your home. Trim all tree branches that are above gutter or may interfere with the gutter.
2. Inspect the gutter system for wear and tear
Inspect the gutters for leaks. This is good thing to do periodically throughout the year, but especially before winter weather sets in. The next time it rains, grab an umbrella and walk the perimeter of your home. Look for leaks in the gutter system, especially around where the gutters meet the downspouts. Typically, the screws that secure the downspout to the gutter system can
back off and cause the downspout to sag or lose the proper angle alignment, which can cause the water to escape at the top of the downspout instead of diverting to the bottom of the downspout. Ensure to address any leaks accordingly to minimize the risk of foundation degradation and water intrusion.
3. Realign your gutters
Make sure your gutters are aligned properly. The water inside the gutter shall flow towards the downspouts. If the gutters are sloped properly, water will not sit in the middle of the gutter. The best ways to check if your gutters are sloped properly is by viewing the gutters during a rain or by pouring water from a hose into the gutter and making sure all the water is flowing out the downspouts.
4. Add downspout extensions
Downspout extensions work by sending excess water farther away from the base of your home by extending the length of the downspouts on your home. We recommend keeping the gutter extensions 3 to 5 feet away from your home to prevent water from seeping into the areas it shouldn’t, like your basement and foundation of your home. Make sure that landscaping does not impact the water to divert away from your home. Often downspout extensions are installed inside of the flower beds, although if the downspout extensions become clogged with mulch it has the potential to cause more harm than good by not letting the water divert away from your home.
5. Install Gutter Guards
One of the best ways to maintain clean gutters is to install the properly gutter guard on your gutters. Most gutter guards prevent leaves and debris from entering the inside of the gutter. Gutter guards will decrease the number of times you will have to clean your gutters and is the best preventive maintenance option. Some gutter guards are easy to install, the more advance gutter guard system should be installed by a professional gutter contractor or someone with gutter guard installation experience.
DYI vs Professional
When considering tackling any of these tips, know your limitations and always use the proper protective equipment. The complexity of roof line and existing gutter system will play a factor. For the advance DIY, cleaning out the gutters, inspecting for wear & tear and installing downspout extensions maybe a task that you can complete. We recommend you contact a professional gutter contractor for the more advance activities, like realigning your gutters and installing gutter guards. If any of these tasks are completed improperly, than will you probably cause yourself more headaches and money!
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