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and maintenance of gutters and siding in the Vancouver Lower Mainland.

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Bad Things Happen to Good Gutters

A bright shiny new gutter system, unfortunately, doesn’t stay that way without being properly maintained. Gutters control water flow, directing it to the downspouts. When gutters aren’t cleaned regularly, other parts of your home’s exterior like the soffit, fascia, and foundation become vulnerable to water damage. Here are some bad things that can happen to good gutters.

Clogged Gutters

Gutters filled with twigs, leaves, dirt, and particles of other types of materials like shingle granules, pine cones, and needles stop water from exiting the downpipes. This allows debris to build up and encourages standing water. Rainwater breaks down organic matter and over time turns it into sludge, damaging the protective finish of any type of gutter. When the finish is compromised on aluminum gutters, it makes them susceptible to rust.

Overloaded Gutters

Standing water in the gutter channel also adds weight to the gutter system. When gutters become heavy with a combination of rainwater and debris, they can pull away from the fascia, resulting in sagging and even missing sections of guttering. Whole sections breaking loose render a gutter system non-functional.

Overloaded gutters typically put extra pressure on joints and seams, causing them to leak.

Onset of Rot

When rain falls into gutters already overloaded with standing water, they overflow. Overflowing gutters allow water to land undirected, creating a place for mould and/or moss to grow and moisture to get in behind soffit and siding panels where light and air can’t reach. When rot sets in, wood fascia becomes incapable of supporting a gutter system.

Warping

Aluminum gutters and vinyl gutters become warped for a number of reasons, but the two most common causes of warping are surface damage to the finish and expansion and contraction. When the protective finish on a gutter system wears away, it allows the gutter material to become exposed to the elements. This generally means the gutters will eventually become misshapen (warping for metal gutters and splitting or cracking for vinyl gutters).

Expansion and contraction is a gutter system’s response to heat and cold. It becomes a problem over time when caulking wears away and fasteners/screws/nails shift, setting the stage for more warping or splitting.

Essential Gutter Cleaning Tools

Cleaning the gutters seems straightforward enough – gunk collected in the gutter system has to be removed. Most people agree that when you have the right tools for the job it makes the task at hand easier and more manageable. These essential gutter cleaning tools will help you get the results you want – thoroughly cleaned gutters free of debris.

Good Ladder

The ladder you choose for your gutter cleaning chore should be strong and sturdy. It should also be the right ladder for the job – a 10’ step ladder is great for a one-storey home, but not for a house that’s two or more storeys. A straight or extension ladder that has a standoff will protect aluminum gutters from being dented. A ladder that includes a shelf is the best place for a pail and the gutter cleaning tools you’re not using at the moment but need close to hand.

Garden Hose

Unless you’re a gutter cleaning professional, power and pressure washers might damage gutters and/or create damp areas ideal for moss/mold/mildew growth. In this case, a garden hose is the most economical and safe tool for cleaning the gutters. Attaching a pistol-grip spray nozzle allows you to control the direction and amount of water, and it can be hooked on the side of the ladder when not in use.

Gutter Scoop

A gutter scoop, unlike a garden trowel, is specifically designed with high sides to contain the debris until it can be disposed of. To avoid scratching the bottom of the gutter, select a plastic gutter scoop over a metal one.

Soft Bristle Brush

A soft all-purpose bristle brush can be used to scrub dirt, stains, and silt from the bottom of the gutter. You can also use it to clean the outside or face of the gutters. When choosing one with a handle, select a bristle brush with a handle on the top rather than the side – it will be easier to maneuver inside the gutter channel.

Protective Gear

A good pair of heavy work gloves will protect your hands from scrapes and germs. Wear safety glasses or safety goggles to guard against splashes and flying debris. Rubber-soled shoes help keep you from slipping when climbing a ladder or walking on the roof.

Cleaning the Gutters in the Fall is Important

Gutter professionals typically advise cleaning the gutters twice a year. Cleaning a gutter system annually is preferable to not cleaning it at all. But choose the “right” season: there are several compelling reasons why it’s important to clean gutters in the fall.

Not Just Leaves

Temperature, sunlight, and soil moisture dictate when trees shed their leaves. A fall that is warm and mild will see the leaves stay on the trees anywhere from one to three weeks longer, while an autumn that is cold and dry will cause the trees to shed one to three weeks earlier.

Leaves are light, so how much of a threat can they be? But leaves that land in the gutters are generally mixed with twigs, dirt, miscellaneous objects, and bits of organic matter. Add water from rainfall or a periodic storm: the result can be clogged gutters that are heavy, putting additional stress on the fascia.

If pine trees grow close to the house, needles can also enter the gutter system. While they appear green year-round, pine trees shed their needles over a period of weeks rather than all at once like deciduous trees. When you have both types of trees on your property, try to clean the gutters as close to the end of the fall as possible.

In From the Cold

Roof overhangs and gutters filled with leaves and other organic materials look inviting to animals wanting to come in from the cold. Common winter nesters in the Lower Mainland include rodents, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. They can burrow into the attic space, and damage roof tiles, siding, and downspouts as they travel back and forth from nest to food source.

Prepping for Winter

Cleaning the gutters in the fall is an important step to prepping your home exterior for winter. Keeping the gutter system free of debris ensures that water can freely flow through the gutter channel to the downpipes. Fall gutter cleaning should also include an inspection of seams and joints, nails and fastens holding the gutter system in place, and damaged gutter sections that might not make it until spring.

More than Cleaning the Gutters

While it doesn’t seem much cooler, the kids are back at school and fall is on its way. Cleaning the gutters regularly is one of your home maintenance priorities. That’s why you hire a gutter cleaning service. But did you know that most gutter cleaning companies do more than just clean the gutters? If other areas of your home’s exterior need some attention too, ask your gutter contractor what other services they offer.

The Roof

Many gutter pros know their way around a roof. They can check for leaks, identify compromised shingles, repair damage, and replace missing roofing tiles. Some gutter companies might not be able to do the actual repairs, but will let you know if you need to call a roofer.

If it hasn’t been done in a while (or ever), they can inspect the flashings around vents, chimneys, roof valleys, and other roof protrusions like dormer windows or a sun roof.

A gutter contractor can also clean off the roof, which is a good place to start when getting your gutters cleaned.

Some gutter contractors will clean the chimney and remove any accumulated debris.

The Gutter System

In addition to the regular things a gutter contractor does such as installing gutter systems, gutter cleaning, and doing repairs, gutter cleaning services also conduct detailed inspections for troubleshooting purposes. They will inspect the gutters for leaks, sagging gutter sections, and cracking (mostly applicable to vinyl gutters), and then make any necessary repairs.

After cleaning the gutters, a gutter pro might make some suggestions as to how the downspouts might function more efficiently. Suggested changes could include:

  • adding downspout extenders to carry rainwater further away from the foundation
  • removing or repairing a damaged section of downpipe
  • adding more downspouts to the gutter system
  • upgrading from a 2 x 3 inch downpipe to a 3 x 4 inch downspout

Power Washing

While we here at MHC Gutters advise homeowners not to use a power washer on their gutters, siding, windows, etc., you can trust professional contractors to safely pressure wash the outside of your house.

If the driveway, steps, and sidewalks look dusty, grimy and dingy, spruce up the exterior of your home now by giving them a thorough cleaning.

Ditto the windows and shutters. Cleaning off exterior windows is especially important this time of year – you want to let as much light inside as possible before it gets dark earlier.

Improved Drainage

When surface rainwater collects in large pools on the lawn or near your foundation, it could be a sign that you are experiencing drainage problems. Gutter cleaning pros might also know how to install a French drain or some other type of drainage bed that moves runoff water away from the house and redirects it to avoid pooling.

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

How Neglected Gutters Harm Your Home

While it’s summer, the last thing you probably want to do is think about preparing your home’s exterior for fall, including cleaning the gutters. If they are still attached to your house, a little bit of dirt is obviously not bothering them. The reality is by the time they have fallen off the damage is most likely serious, affecting not just the gutters but other parts of your home as well.

Fascia and Soffit

The main reason for standing water inside a gutter is debris build-up. When inclement weather adds rain to a gutter system already filled with water, gutters can overflow. If water spills over the inner edge (side of the gutter closest to the house) and seeps into the fascia boards, damp fascia can slowly become rotting fascia. Overflowing gutters may also seep into soffit with a similar result.

Neglected gutters are heavy. Water combined with debris weighs down the gutters until they pull away from the fascia boards and/or put additional stress on soffit panels.

Algae, Moss, Mold, Mildew

Gutters not properly maintained are vulnerable to the formation of algae, moss, mold or mildew. When it can be seen on the gutter face, soffit or fascia, plant growth such as moss can be removed. When gutters overflow and rainwater seeps in behind the gutters or into soffit panels and fascia boards, algae, moss, mold or mildew are more difficult to deal with.

Mold, mildew, and moss can pose mild to serious health issues. Moss is very absorbent; once it takes hold inside the gutter channel, it retains water, adding extra weight to the gutter section. Most types of algae are not harmful to a person’s health like moss, mold, and mildew are. However, algae can stain and even ruin the protective finish of your gutters.

Effects of Standing Water

Neglected gutters filled with twigs, leaves, and dirt encourage standing water. The same goes for clogged downspouts; debris trapped inside downpipes stops rainwater from exiting the gutter system.

Pooled water beneath a downspout can cause flooding in a basement. Standing water inside the gutters creates an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes and other kinds of nagging insects. It can also cause rusting, pitting and leaks in aluminum gutters.

Summer Curb Appeal Tips

Curb appeal isn’t just about real estate value. Whether entering from the backyard or through the front door, returning to a home that’s visually appealing is deeply rewarding. Here are a few summer curb appeal tips that will increase your sense of well-being, while those driving by will appreciate the view.

Exterior Cleaning Services

You clean the gutters regularly, wash the windows when they’re really dusty, and remove stains from the siding on an as-needed basis. But you can’t remember the last time you cleaned the roof and the only time the driveway gets “power washed” is when you water the flower beds. Consider hiring a professional exterior cleaning company at least once every two years. Typical services include:

  • roof cleaning
  • roof moss removal
  • gutter cleaning
  • siding soft wash
  • window cleaning
  • driveway cleaning

When a home’s exterior shines, it invites and welcomes visitors.

Painting the Trim

Painting the exterior of your home will definitely improve curb appeal. But who wants to spend the summer repainting the house? A high impact, low-cost trick is to paint just the trim. Selecting a complementary bold shade or intense earth tone will give your home an updated appearance.

Painting Concrete

Perhaps it’s time to paint the concrete driveway, walkway, or stairs if scrubbing doesn’t make a difference anymore. Applying one or two coats of paint to the front steps can greatly improve curb appeal. You don’t have to stop at “plain.” Explore Pinterest for some really creative DIY projects – pinstriped stairs, checkered porch floor, faux tile patio – all accomplished with tape, stencils, paint, and a little imagination!

Landscaping Tweaks

Flowering trees and shrubs automatically increase curb appeal. However, you can have too much of a good thing. Limit the number in a particular area, a small front yard for example, to under five.

Seed bald spots to bring a patchy lawn back to life.

When flower beds contain perennials, landscaping can be given a seasonal look by adding containers of annuals on either side of the front door, in the corner of a porch or by the steps.

There is a variety of landscape lighting available. Consider what type of light you would like to install. Sidewalk from the front gate to the entry door a bit dark after the sun sets? Choose lights designed to boarder a pathway. The porch lights don’t reach as far as the stairs? Add a down light so visitors can see the stair treads.

How Healthy are Your Gutters?

You know you should maintain your gutter system to prevent any potential problems. But even if you do clean the gutters regularly, there are a number of factors that can impact their functionality and durability. How healthy are your gutters? Take MHC Gutters’ fun informal quiz to find out.

1. How old are your gutters?

a) 5 years or younger (5 points)
b) 5 to 15 years (4 points)
c) 15 to 20 years (3 points)
d) 20 years plus (2 points)

2. What kind of material is your gutter system made of?

a) Aluminum (5 points)
b) Copper (5 points)
c) Other metals (4 points)
d) Vinyl (2 points)

3. Do trees grow close to the gutters?

a) No, there are no trees growing near the house (5 points)
b) Yes, within 10 to 15 meters (33 to 49 feet) (4 points)
c) Yes, within 5 to 10 meters (16.5 to 33 feet) (3 points)
d) Yes, within 5 meters (16.5 feet) (2 points)

4. How often do you clean the gutters or have them cleaned?

a) Twice or more a year (5 points)
b) Once a year (4 points)
c) Once every 18 months (3 points)
d) Can’t remember the last time or don’t know (0 points)

5. Does the exterior of your home show any signs of the following?

a) Tiger stripes or streaking (3 points)
b) Insect infestations (2 points)
c) Mold, mildew and/or decay (1 point)
d) Shifting foundation or bald patches in earth around basement (0 points)

6. Select the answer that is most applicable to your gutters.

a) If the gutter system is seamless and includes gutter guards (5 points)
b) If the gutter system is seamless (4 points)
c) If the gutter system is made of metal and includes some type of leaf protection (3 points)
d) If the gutters are sectional and made of metal (2 points)

How did your gutters do?

The higher the score, the healthier your gutters are; the lower the score, they need some TLC! Healthy gutters protect your home, reduce home maintenance costs, and save landscaping from soil erosion.

Other Reasons to Call a Gutter Contractor

You’re in the habit of waiting until the gutters “really” need cleaning. Or you’ve noticed a couple of sagging gutter sections at the front of the house, but don’t think it’s worth calling a professional just yet. Waiting until a gutter emergency occurs can be expensive and might do real damage to your home’s exterior. Here are some sound reasons to call a gutter contractor before your gutters reach crisis mode.

Longevity

Repairing minor damage such as rust spots, loose brackets or leaking seams stops the problem from becoming worse. Leaking seams eventually lead to rusting, an indication of metal deterioration. The weight of water running through a system with loose nails or brackets puts extra stress on both the gutters and fascia.

Regular cleaning reduces the chance of clogs forming in the gutter channel, around the gutter outlet or in the downspouts. Whether it’s doing repairs right away or hiring a gutter cleaning service, regular maintenance will help extend the life of the gutters.

New Home

Even when the roofing system received a passing grade as part of the home inspection prior to the purchase of your new home, call a gutter contractor after living in the house for at least 18 months. Ask them to check:

  • the gutter slope
  • if more downpipes are needed
  • that the downspouts of a multi-level roof are draining directly into the gutters below and not onto the roof itself
  • if a drip edge needs to be added (applicable to homes 15 years and older)

Relocating Downspouts

Does the downspout snake inelegantly around your backyard deck? Do all the downpipes on the house manage to cross paved areas including the driveway? Ensuring that downspouts are being properly diverted will protect your home from potential foundation damage. Get advice and help from a gutter installation company on where the downspouts should be relocated or if downspout extenders or splash blocks are required.

Improve Downspout Efficiency

Call a gutter contractor to improve downspout efficiency when downpipes are:

  • situated too close to the house
  • draining into the neighbour’s yard
  • can’t seem to handle current water volume
  • keep clogging for no obvious reason

How to Clean Gutters with Gutter Guards

Homeowners purchase a gutter guard or leaf protection system to keep debris out, cutting down on time spent on maintenance. Unfortunately, the prevailing myth is that gutters with gutter guards never have to be cleaned again. But no matter how high the quality or what kind of gutter guard was installed, the gutters still need to be cleared out regularly.

Why do Gutters with Gutter Guards Need Cleaning?

When gutter guards or any other type of leaf protection do their job, leaves, twigs, pine cones, blossoms, etc. hang around if not blown away. Especially if the gutter guard system is covered by material with holes (mesh screens, round slots, elongated openings), as the debris disintegrates, it breaks down into small enough particles that enter the gutters. Depending on the width of the slots or holes, seed pods, needles, and buds can bypass the gutters guards altogether. Over time, these little bits of material buildup and create clogs.

Set the Stage

Lay down a tarp where you’ll be working to catch falling debris.

Place the ladder on a level surface. If you can’t lean the ladder against the wall, use a ladder stabilizer to avoid damaging the gutters. An extension ladder should be tall enough to extend three rungs above the roof.

Get the garden hose ready – it’s going up the ladder with you.

Suit Up

Where protective gear such as work gloves, safety glasses and work boots or shoes with non-slip soles. For added protection, it’s advisable to avoid short sleeves and shorts.

Cleaning Gutters with Gutter Guards

Once safely on the ladder, spray the top and sides of the gutter section to remove debris and grime. Then aim the spray nozzle into the gutter channel to flush out any silt and bits of material.

Look under the cover or through the screen of the gutter guard and into the gutter channel. If the initial flushing with water did not get rid of the debris, the leaf protector will have to be removed. Depending on the type of gutter guard, it will either have to be unscrewed piece by piece or in sections.

Use a non-abrasive cleaning solution or warm soapy water with a soft cloth or soft bristle brush to remove any residual dirt both inside and outside of the gutters.

Do one section at a time. Don’t overreach; move the ladder instead. Repeat the above steps as needed.

If the gutter guards have to be removed in order to access the gutter channel and then put back, be prepared for the gutter cleaning process to take longer.