Now that we’re heading into December, it’s time to get the gutters ready for the winter months ahead. A properly maintained gutter system can provide protection against water damage for as long as you own your home. To ensure your home’s exterior is prepared, here are some ways to get your gutters ready for winter.
Cleaning the Gutters
To guarantee that your gutter system is going to survive until spring, cleaning the gutters thoroughly is the first step. Past recent windy days might have blown away any debris off the roof, but check to see if it needs to be swept before you begin cleaning the gutters.
If pre-holiday season errands and to-do-lists are already keeping you busy, hire a professional gutter cleaning service to do it for you.
If you are planning on cleaning the gutters yourself, schedule a block of time when the weather forecast predicts a rain-free day. Start with a sturdy, dependable ladder and follow basic ladder safety rules. You’ll also need thick work gloves and a gutter scoop. While you want to make the most of your weather window, set a steady pace when removing materials that can form clogs or blockages. Pay attention to gutter corners, seams and the gutter outlet where debris can build up.
Check Gutter Seams and Fasteners
Over time, gutter seams can experience general wear and tear that makes them vulnerable to leaks. Check every seam in your gutter system for gaps where two sections are joined. Also, inspect the back of the gutter for spaces between the gutter section and the fascia to which the gutters are attached.
Inspect the fasteners holding the gutters in place to ensure they’re not loose and causing the guttering to pull away from the fascia. Gaps allow rainwater to damage the fascia and if left unresolved, can eventually lead to structural damage of your home.
Washing the Gutters
Once you have removed all of the debris from the gutters, take the time to wash the exterior surfaces of the gutter system. Washing away toxins, dust, dirt, and other particulate matter will help protect the finish that protects the gutters from penetrating dampness.
While you’re up close and personal with your aluminum gutters, look for signs of rust. If there are just a few spots they can be repaired. However, if rust is evident throughout the gutter system, consult with a gutter professional to see if they should be replaced before winter or if they will last for a while longer.
Inspect the Downspouts
Downspouts need to be inspected for loose hardware, clogs, and damaged sections that could cause serious problems during the winter when you least want to be dealing with guttering issues. The simplest way to check for blockages in downpipes is to run water from a garden hose at the gutter outlet and observe it as it exits the downspout. Unobstructed flow is a sign that everything is good, while a trickle is a good indication that there is debris somewhere in the downspout that needs clearing.
Check for Structural Damage
Structural damage compromises the structural integrity of your home. Depending on the type and extent, structural damage can be costly to fix. Look for any signs of staining, mold, or cracks in the foundation. You will also want to check the siding, soffit, and fascia for the same things. If you do spot any of these signs, again consult with exterior finishing professionals to see if they should be replaced before winter sets in.
Downspouts should optimally deposit water 8 to 10 feet away from the foundation. If rainwater is pooling underneath the downspouts or being dumped too close to exterior walls, adding extensions can safely direct water farther away. Select the type of extender that will work best with your current gutters and downspouts when adding extensions to the downspouts of your gutter system.