We are an exterior finishing company specializing in installation
and maintenance of gutters and siding in the Vancouver Lower Mainland.

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Advantages of Maintaining Your Gutters

Neglected gutters can cause unwanted problems. Most homeowners know that gutters need to be cleaned at least twice a year (spring and fall). It’s a chore no one really wants to do. So, as we head further into gutter cleaning season, let MHC Gutters remind you of the advantages of maintaining your gutter system throughout the year.

Curb Appeal

The saying “Appearance is everything” is very true when it comes to gutters. Standard gutters hang from the fascia and therefore are noticeable. A gutter system that is streaked, dented, worn, faded or sagging detracts from your home’s curb appeal and can make your home unwelcoming.

Improve Functionality

There is no denying that Vancouver gutters get a lot of rain. When a gutter system is cluttered with debris or has moss growing in the gutter channel, unimpeded water flow to the downspout is not possible. Maintaining your gutters and keeping them free of clogs improves functionality. Water that doesn’t drain properly from the gutter system can lead to a number of problems including:

  • standing water in the gutter channel (adds weight)
  • pooling water around the downspouts (flooding basement)
  • overflowing gutters (landscape erosion)

Increase Life Span

Regardless of the material gutters are made of, keeping them well-maintained increases their life span. When a gutter system is free of debris, it minimizes potential damage to gutter sections and downpipes. A gutter system that leaks, overflows, or doesn’t drain properly invites moisture-related problems such as mold, mildew and foundation damage.

Avoid Expensive Costs

Regularly maintaining gutters through scheduled gutter cleanings and periodic inspections are excellent preventive medicine. Making repairs, stopping leaks, and doing those other little tweaks that keep a gutter system running smoothly prevent problems from escalating and having to spend money to fix them.

Unwanted Guests

Don’t invite unwanted guests. Gutters filled with leaves, twigs, and other types of organic residue are attractive to pests like wasps, bees, birds, and squirrels looking for a home.

How Gutters Change the Look of Your Home

Gutters manage rainwater, protecting the home’s exterior from water damage. Standard gutters attach to the fascia and are visible to the eye. This means gutters also have an aesthetic purpose. Whether you’re buying new in the near future or you plan to keep the current gutters for a while longer, here are some subtle ways a gutter system can impact the appearance of your home.

Clean Lines

The shape or profile of the gutter contributes to the overall personality of your home. Half-round copper gutters make a different statement than K-style aluminum gutters. While both profiles possess simple, clean lines, the visual impact of curved versus straight is individual. K-style and half-round are the two most common gutter profiles, but there is a wide range of profiles available, and each one will add or subtract from a home’s exterior.

Well Maintained

If gutters are not well maintained, they detract from your home’s curb appeal. Curb appeal isn’t just for other people; you have to enter and exit your property on a daily basis. Returning home to streaked gutters filled with twigs, leaves, and debris can adversely impact the mental and physical well-being of you and your family.

Colour Coordinated

Don’t let your chromophobia (fear of colour) get the best of you. When replacing the gutters, take time to select the best colour that will complement the other exterior finishing elements such as the roof, trim (windows and doors), and soffit and fascia. The colour of the gutter system can be used to:

  • make the gutters appear as an extension of the roof (complementary colour)
  • make the gutters a noticeable boundary between the gutter system and the roof (contrasting colour)
  • creates visual harmony

Focal Point

While most people shy away from making the gutters standing out, there are some good reasons for choosing the gutter system to be a focal point. Opting to paint or select a contrasting colour from the rest of the exterior expresses your individuality, accentuates the architectural style of the house, and adds a layer of visual interest to the home’s exterior.

Protecting Your Home from Storm Damage

While it might seem windy now, soon we’ll be dealing with stronger winds and heavier rainfalls. Wild weather can impact a home’s exterior, resulting in repairs that cost time and money. Cleaning out the gutters and inspecting the roof for loose or missing shingles is a good place to start. Here are some useful tips to help you protect your home from storm damage this winter.

Store Seasonal Items

Store items you won’t be using during the winter months such as lawn furniture, the barbecue and yard tools. If it can’t be stored away, secure anything residing on a patio, sun deck or backyard that might be thrown up against the siding by the wind. Wherever possible, take down swings, wind chimes, etc.

Clean Up the Yard

Rake the yard. Twigs and bits of debris can become projectiles, chipping glass, denting siding, etc.

In and after storms, trees can pose a threat by smashing windows, dropping branches onto power lines, and collapsing a roof. Inspect the trees on your property, especially the ones near the house. Look for dead branches, broken branches, and holes or cracks in the trunk. These are some common signs of a dying tree that might have to be removed in order to keep your home safe.

Trim back any branches close to the roof, gutters, and siding. Dispose of any limbs and cuttings or secure them so that they can’t be blown around.

If they can’t be sheltered by a shed, overhang or garage, secure garbage and recycling bins.

Check Windows and Doors

Loose panes make windows vulnerable. Seals and caulking around doors and windows should be in good condition to help keep water and cold air out and warm air in. Repairing windows and doors now will avoid winter storms making the damage worse.

Home’s Exterior

Roof: Ensure that all roof protrusions and flashings are securely fastened. Check for missing and broken tiles. Repair as soon as possible to prevent moisture from getting in and creating problems such as leaks and mold.

Gutters: Clean the gutters. Gutters full of debris weigh them down, making them vulnerable to wind damage. Check that they are firmly fastened to the fascia.

Downspouts: Check the brackets; the downspout shouldn’t be able to move from side to side. Look for clogs and remove them.

Siding: Look for dents, scratches and worn or missing siding panels. Repair them if possible. During winter storms, damaged places on siding can be entry points for moisture.

Backup Plan

Power companies do their best to get everyone back to normal, but often this takes time. If you don’t have one already, invest in a portable generator. It will ensure that any electronics will continue to work once the power’s gone out. You can also hook up essential appliances such as the refrigerator, freezer and any other piece of equipment that has a plug.

Simple Gutter System Maintenance Tips

Cleaning the gutters twice a year is only one element of a total gutter maintenance plan. Homeowners often overlook the other parts of a gutter system, particularly the downspouts. Make your gutters last longer and function better by using these simple gutter system maintenance tips throughout the year.

Gutters

The first part of a gutter system is the gutter, the horizontal section that is the initial point of contact for water coming off of the roof. Hangers are used to attach gutter section to a house. To ensure gutters are in good shape:

  • keep the gutter channel free of debris
  • wash the outside of the gutters to remove dirt, streaks, and organic growth such as algae or moss
  • check that the hangers are not worn or loose – for older gutter systems using spikes or nails, replace them if they’re loose or rusted
  • check the seams and joints for leaks
  • remove nests and other signs of pest/insect activity
  • trim back trees close to the house to reduce the amount of debris entering the gutter system and to prevent potential damage to aluminum gutters

Downpipes

The second major part of the gutter system is the downspout. If you have more than one, don’t forget to check all of them. Inspect the downspouts once every two months and look for:

  • dents – can restrict water flow
  • scratches – can promote corrosion
  • loose brackets – shifting causes misalignment
  • clogs – they typically form in one of three places; gutter outlet, middle, and elbow

Removing a clog from a downspout is sometimes more problematic than cleaning the gutters. If flushing water through the downpipe doesn’t dislodge the blockage, try using a plumber’s auger.

Drainage

Drainage is the third integral part of any gutter system. Once water enters the gutters and exits through the downpipes, it must be routed safely away from the house. Check for the following:

  • pooled water underneath the downspout – it might be a landscaping issue or a blockage inside the pipe
  • rust, flaking, and peeling paint are possible signs of leaks or other kinds of water damage
  • distance – water should be deposited a minimum of 7 feet from the foundation
  • if using a downspout extender or splash block, make sure it is positioned correctly and is in good condition

When and Where to Install Gutter Accessories

Gutter accessories are used for a number of reasons such as increasing functionality and protecting a home’s exterior from water damage. Gutter guards, splash blocks and flexible downspouts are just a few accessories for the gutters that are popular with homeowners. But if you purchase a gutter accessory and use it incorrectly, it’s going to defeat the purpose of installing it. Here is a brief guide on when and where to install gutter accessories.

Directional

Gutter accessories for downspouts are designed to direct water away from one place or direction to another.

Downspout Extenders

Downspout extensions are used when downpipes deposit water too close to the foundation. Different types of downpipe extenders are intended for specific uses.

  • A standard extender resembles a downspout installed horizontally instead of vertically, then fastened into place.
  • A flexible downspout has an “accordion” section that allows the downspout extender to be positioned around obstructions and areas where water shouldn’t be deposited.
  • A hinged downpipe resembles a standard extender except for the hinge mechanism that allows the downspout to be folded up when not in use.

Rainwater Diverters

Diverters for downpipes are available in a variety of types and styles. Some types of diverters direct rainwater from a gutter system into a rain barrel. Other types of diverters, often resembling a “Y” direct water from one downspout into two different places, such as around a sidewalk in one direction and into a landscaped area in the opposite direction. Some manufacturers use the term “diverter” interchangeably with “downspout extender/extension.” Make sure that the diverter is intended for the function you’re purchasing it for.

Gutter/Leaf Protectors

Many homeowners find some type of leaf protection handy in cutting down the time and cost of gutter maintenance. There are several different types of gutter protectors including all-in-one systems and leaf screens for downspouts and gutters.

Gutter Guards

If you’re considering purchasing a gutter guard system for your home, keep the following in mind:

  • be able to handle the volume of annual rainfall in your area
  • be compatible with your home’s exterior and/or roof
  • openings of screens or covers should match the type of trees growing on the property (wider for deciduous, narrower for pines)

Leaf Screen

Made of vinyl or metal mesh, leaf screens are placed over the top of the gutter. When buying a leaf strainer for a downspout, ensure it fits properly over the gutter outlet.

Preventing Erosion

Since a splash block typically resembles a long narrow tray, it’s sometimes used as a directional downspout accessory. While it does move water away from a foundation where the downspout is too close to the wall, a splash block helps prevent soil erosion. This maintains the landscape design and prevents the foundation from shifting.

When to Install Oversized Downspouts

While downspouts are often overlooked by homeowners when they purchase or maintain a gutter system, downpipes play an important role in protecting a home’s exterior. Standard 5-inch gutters are typically paired with a 2 x 3-inch downspout. However, there are some instances where installing oversized downspouts as part of a standard gutter system is a better choice.

Cleaning the Gutters too Often

If you’re cleaning the gutters four times a year but everyone else in the community is only gutter cleaning once or twice annually, this might be an indicator larger downpipes are needed. When the gutters are generally in good shape, don’t exhibit signs of damage, and are not older than 7 years but seem to become clogged a lot, replacing 2 x 3-inch downpipes with 3 x 4-inch downspouts will improve the functionality of the gutters without the need for replacement.

Not the Right Fit

In Vancouver where a home’s exterior is subjected to a lot of rain, 6-inch gutters might seem more practical. But an oversized gutter system is quite noticeable and can detract from the aesthetics of the home exterior. When oversized gutters aren’t the right fit for the style, size or fascia of the house, oversized downspouts can provide a practical alternative.

Overflowing Gutters

Clogs in the gutter channel are not the only reason gutters overflow. Other reasons include improper slope, an insufficient number of downspouts and the size of either the gutters or downspout or both. When all other causes are ruled out, before upgrading to a 6” gutter system, try replacing just the downpipes first. The outlet of an oversized downspout is twice as wide as a 2 x 3-inch downpipe, allowing more water to exit the gutters and flow through the downspouts.

Blocked Downspouts

Standard downpipes for 5-inch gutters can easily become clogged around the elbows (top and bottom of the pipe) or in the middle due to debris building up around an object that hasn’t been washed out of the gutter system. The wider opening at the top of downspout where it connects with the gutters will handle larger volumes of water more efficiently.

Gutters and Ladder Safety

The nice weather is calling your name, enticing you into the backyard to sit on the deck and relax. But summertime is also when homeowners become motivated to get home maintenance stuff done. If checking the siding or cleaning the gutters is on your to-do list, make sure if it involves a ladder, you’re using it safely.

Reasons People Fall off a Ladder

When cleaning out the gutters, cleaning off the roof or inspecting the roofing system, working on a ladder can be dangerous. Reasons people fall off ladders include:

  • wearing the wrong type of shoes
  • improper ladder placement
  • overreaching
  • standing on your toes
  • doesn’t heed the “three points of contact” rule

Choosing the Right Ladder

If it’s not the right type for the task at hand, you’re putting yourself in danger. Keep these tips in mind when buying a new ladder:

  • a step-ladder is fine for a one storey house but if your home is two or more floors, invest in an extension ladder to help you safely reach the gutters
  • if your house is two or more storeys, a straight ladder (leans but doesn’t extend) should be tall enough to reach
  • select metal over wood to avoid warping
  • purchase a ladder with a stabilizer to prevent denting aluminum gutters or buy the ladder standoff/stabilizer separately

Using the Ladder Safely

Most falls off a ladder are preventable. When doing gutter maintenance this summer or cleaning the gutters in the fall, use these tips suggested by professionals.

Place the ladder on even and stable ground. For example, avoid putting a ladder on shifting surfaces such as wet mud or gravel.

Shoes on ladders should have rubber soles or be made of some other non-slip material.

An extension or straight ladder should not be placed too far from the wall – to determine the maximum number of feet the ladder should be away from the house, divide the height of the ladder by four.

If you have to remove a clog just slightly out of reach, move the ladder instead of reaching too far.

Climbing the ladder, place the middle of the foot on the rung. When standing on the rungs, feet should be flat and slightly apart for added balance.

Always practice the “three points of contact” rule: two feet and one hand when cleaning the gutters or one foot and two hands when climbing the ladder.

Partner up with someone when using the ladder – one on it, one holding or standing nearby; never both on the ladder at the same time.

Why Invest in European Gutters?

European gutters are distinctive, beautiful to look at yet highly functional. Manufactured for both commercial and residential buildings, a euro-style gutter system will complement most architectural styles. While definitely high-end, there are some very good reasons to invest in European gutters.

Gutter Profile

European gutters have a distinct profile that is timeless yet contemporary. The most popular shape used on over eighty percent of North American homes is the K-style gutter profile. Unlike standard gutters, a euro gutter system is half-round, with the bead turned outward, increasing visual impact and curb appeal.

A typical European gutter profile is deeper than standard half-round gutters, making it capable of handling comparable volumes of water to K-style gutters.

Longevity

Although it might seem that our climate is one long rainy season, the lower mainland actually experiences significant climatic fluctuations, anything from severe windstorms to temperatures that dip below freezing to random bouts of heavy hail. Because European gutters are generally made from heavier gauge metals, they are durable and long lasting, able to withstand the elements.

Different Types of Euro Gutters

Manufacturers of euro gutters offer a number of options for the homeowner looking to invest in a European gutter system. When deciding what will best protect your home, consider the amount of local annual rainfall, the thickness of the gutter material, the architectural style of your home, and curb appeal/resale value.

Sectional: Sectional gutters are available in pre-cut lengths, typically 10-foot sections, but can vary from one manufacturer to another. When installed, they are soldered together. Technically, the seams can be seen, but are usually hidden be half-round brackets.

Seamless: Seamless half-round European gutters are manufactured on site at the time of installation, and only have seams in the corners of the gutter system. When viewing the gutter system from the ground, no joints are visible, creating a smooth expanse that is pleasing to the eye.

Solderless: Fabricated to fit to together when installed, solderless European gutters are sectional but have the appearance of a seamless gutter system.

Materials for European Gutters

While copper is certainly the most popular euro gutter material, European style gutters are available in a variety of different metals, including thick-gauge aluminum, galvanized steel, and zinc.Steel is becoming more popular due to its strength. Strong and corrosion-resistant, galvalume gutters are made of steel and coated with a mixture of zinc and aluminum.

Steel is becoming more popular due to its strength. Also gaining in popularity, galvalume gutters are made of steel and coated with a mixture of zinc and aluminum.

Signs Your Downspouts are Clogged

Gutters and downspouts make up the gutter system that protects your home. But when it comes to being regularly maintained as often as the gutters, downpipes are sometimes overlooked. Like the gutters heading for trouble, there are several telltale signs that the downspouts have become clogged.

Water Flow

One of the first signs a downspout is blocked is decreased or even non-existent water flow. If water trickles from the mouth of the downspout or doesn’t exit at all, most likely it’s because of a clog. Blockages in downpipes typically form around the gutter outlet or in the middle of the downspout or in the bottom elbow where water is discharged.

Gutter Issues

When a gutter system experiences problems that aren’t caused by debris build-up in the gutters themselves, then the culprit probably is the downspout. Standing water in the gutter channels or constantly overflowing gutters can be due to water backing up because of a clog in the downpipe preventing rainwater from flowing down and out.

Leaking Seams

If water escapes from the seams and/or joints of a downspout, it could be an indication of a blocked downpipe. When leaking seams occur in a gutter system five to seven years old, it’s likely that the clog has been there for a while, long enough for the water inside the pipe to wear down the sealant of a relatively new downspout.

Loose or Dented

A gutter system can be adversely affected by loose or dented Downpipes. When downspouts aren’t securely fastened to the house, they can become misaligned, stopping the proper flow of rainwater.

While it might not seem crucial, even a small dent might restrict water flow enough to create places for debris to snag and then form into a clog.

Can’t Remember When

Debris like pine needles, twigs, seed pods, and blossoms are small enough or can break down into tiny bits that easily enter the gutter system. If you can’t remember when you last checked the downspouts, they could already be clogged or be about to cause you trouble.

Signs of Foundation Damage

The foundation of a house is mostly out of sight. While it might seem solid and immovable, the stability of a building depends on the soil the foundation rests on. Foundation problems can occur when the condition of the soil changes. See if your home shows these common signs of foundation damage.

Inside the House

When soil erosion occurs around the exterior basement walls, cracking, shifting or sinking can occur. But it usually doesn’t happen overnight. Signs of potential foundation problems can be barely noticeable and typically make themselves first known inside rather than outside the house. The most common indicators include:

  • mold growth on interior walls, carpet, and interior basement walls and floors
  • musty basement odour
  • cracked mouldings
  • cracks in the ceiling
  • sloping floors or uneven floor tiles
  • doors and windows that don’t open and close smoothly

Outside the House

Ideally, the land around your home should slope away from the foundation. If the landscaping slopes toward the house and the orientation can’t be changed or corrected, in this instance, it’s even more critical to look for signs of foundation damage. Check for the following:

  • exterior foundation walls have shifted – sight lines from corner to corner should be straight
  • cracks in siding and/or exterior walls
  • the concrete begins to chip, flake or pit
  • gutters that consistently overflow
  • downspouts draining too close to the house

Troubleshooting Foundation Damage

Cracks, no matter how small, are an indication that a building’s structure has been compromised. Existing cracks create the environment for more cracks to develop and will eventually become larger. Repairing foundation damage can be complicated. Even if the cracks are small enough to DIY, it’s probably best to consult a construction contractor; they will be able to alert you to any other potential problems. In the meantime, to prevent foundation damage from becoming worse, you can:

  • trim shrubs touching cement walls
  • add soil to bald spots in landscaping near the foundation
  • fix overflowing gutters
  • add a downspout extender or splash block to downpipes depositing water less than 5 feet from your home