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

Tag Archive for gutter

How to Prevent Ice Dams

Lots of rain, a little snow, a sunny day but cold temperatures, then more snow – yes, it definitely feels like winter has arrived. While icicles and ice end up on the gutters, contrary to popular belief, a debris-filled gutter system is not the cause of ice damming. Several contributing factors occur in combination to create ice dams on roofs in the Lower Mainland. What are ice dams and what can you do about them?

Ice Dams

Ice dams generally form on the edge of a roof as the snow melts from the bottom up. They can also be found around skylights and vents and in roof valleys. A slight rise in temperature or heat escaping from the attic warms up the snow; when cold air meets the runoff, it can freeze again, preventing additional snowmelt from running freely off the roof and entering the gutters.

As temperatures fluctuate, more snowmelt occurs. Because of the ice dam, there’s nowhere for the water to go, causing it to back up behind the ridge of ice. Water being pushed in behind roofing shingles can result in water damage to interior and exterior walls, ceilings, and insulation. Ice dams can also cause structural damage to the roof itself.

Ice Dams and Gutters

Since ice dams typically run along the roofline, the process of water thawing and refreezing adds layers to the ice formations. While icicles might look pretty, they weigh the gutters down, putting more stress on fasteners and fascia where gutter sections are attached. When ice buildup dents the gutters, moisture can form in the damaged gutter sections, further weakening the gutter system.

Dealing with Ice Dams – Don’ts

Chipping away: It is not advisable to use a hammer, chisel, axe, ice pick or shovel, because they can potentially damage and/or dislodge roofing tiles, fascia, and gutters.

Salt: Using salt will actually do your landscaping more harm in the spring than have any noticeable effect on the ice dam.

Chemical deicers: Unless you are able to test specific areas and materials, it’s best to skip chemical deicers, particularly if you don’t know what the roof is made or the type of metal the brackets and fasteners are.

Dealing with Ice Dams – Dos

Snow removal: Remove snow with a roof rake to prevent further ice damming. If the house is two or more storeys, use a roof rake with an extension pole.

Heat: Install a deicing kit; it typically consists of a length of cable and hardware to secure it in place.

Roof temperature: Since the main cause of ice damming is heat escaping from the home, a long-term fix is to keep the roof the same temperature as the eaves. Ways to accomplish this include: adding insulation to the attic; increasing ventilation; and preventing air leakage from anywhere that will warm the underside of the roof.

How to Work Safely in Your Yard this Spring

Image credit: Woodleywonderworks / Flickr Creative Commons

Image credit: Woodleywonderworks/Flickr Creative Commons

It doesn’t take much to encourage us to get outdoors and start working in the garden. However you’re planning to get ready for summer entertaining, use these tips to help you work safely in your yard this spring.

Using a Ladder

Whether you’re cleaning the windows, washing the siding or trimming trees, you’ll probably need a ladder. Choose the right type for the task at hand and be aware of its maximum weight capacity.

Before using the ladder, check to see if it’s in good condition. Never set up a ladder on unstable or uneven surfaces. Climb only as far as the fourth rung from the top of a leaning or extension ladder.

If the house is two or more storeys, make sure the ladder is tall enough for you to stand on it without having to reach.

Trimming Trees

The best time to trim trees and prune shrubs is in winter when they’re not growing (in a dormant state). However, if it’s necessary in the spring to trim back dead branches or prune trees and shrubs that have become unruly, make sure:

  • tools and power tools are in good working order and you are using them properly
  • no one (including Fido and Fluffy) is under the tree being trimmed
  • wherever possible the cut branch is caught rather than allowed to fall freely to the ground

Roof and Gutters

Don’t walk on a roof if you’re not sure what condition it’s in or if it is wet. Do a visual inspection from the ground with binoculars or from on top of a ladder. If you do need to climb on the roof, avoid doing so in stormy or very windy weather.

When cleaning gutters, gather together everything you’ll need – a limited number of supplies can be put in a pail or trash bag and then hooked on to the ladder. This will reduce the number of trips you’ll have to make.

Choose the Right Gear

Wear closed toe shoes or work boots when climbing a ladder, doing any kind of yard work or lifting boxes, equipment, etc.

Wear gloves to protect your hands from germs, cuts and scratches.

Use protective eyewear such as safety goggles or sunglasses to keep dirt, debris and splashing liquids away from your eyes.

Don’t forget sunscreen and hats – UV rays are still an issue even when there’s cloud cover.

How Often Should You Clean Your Gutters

At MHC Gutters we get asked this question a lot: “How often should I clean my gutters?” The general guideline is twice a year – once in the spring at the beginning of the season and then again in the fall when the leaves have fallen. While this is mostly accurate, when and how many times actually depends on a number of factors.

Type of Debris

The type of debris that lands in your gutters will help you determine the time of year they need to be cleared out. If you get a lot of leaves, the best time to clean the gutters would be at the end of autumn. However, if you’re dealing with muddy sludge in the gutter channel that causes plants and grass to grow, it would be more effective to clean the gutters in the spring.

Microclimatic Conditions

Microclimate, created by factors unique to your property, can impact when and how many times you should clean your gutters. If you live near woods, open fields or an agricultural area, consider how far the wind can carry a variety of materials you probably don’t want in your gutters for long periods of time. In this case, it’s probably best to schedule cleanings at the end of each season (four times a year). On the other hand, if you have a lot of trees growing on your property, especially the ones near your home, consider having the gutters cleaned once when the trees are leafing and again after they dropped (twice a year).

Amount of Rainfall

How much rain a gutter system receives doesn’t just affect the size of the gutters and downspouts. It also stands to reason that more rainfall means more chances of debris collecting in a gutter section. Even when gutters work properly, leaves, twigs, etc. might not dry out quickly. When wet, gunk in a gutter system adds weight, causing additional strain on hangers, fasteners and/or nails. Consider cleaning the gutters every four months (three times a year).

Roof Type and Configuration

Rain can wash granules from an asphalt roof into the gutters. The larger the roof, the more dirt, grime, pine needles, etc. enters a gutter system. When the roof configuration includes a number of peaks and valleys, debris can get trapped. If it works its way into the gutters as a clump, an instant blockage is created. Cleaning the gutters two to three times annually, particularly once in the spring, should reduce the occurrence of debris build-up.

Fall Outdoor Home Maintenance Chores

Leaves are turning red, yellow and orange. The air is crisper. Kids are thinking about Halloween costumes and planning parties. Autumn is definitely here! This is also the time homeowners start thinking about getting their homes ready for the colder weather. Here are our top five home maintenance chores that should be on your to-do list this fall.

1. Gutters

Of course we’re going to say gutter cleaning is the most important outdoor home maintenance chore! Your gutters could be filled with debris and still be working okay. But it’s not just clogs or blockages you should be concerned about. When leaves and twigs are mixed with silt, mud and water, the debris can really weigh your gutters down. Heavy gutters can pull away from the fascia, leaving gaps between the edge of the roof and the back of the gutter allowing water to get in. Downspouts need to be cleaned too – check the gutter outlet (where gutter meets downpipe) and the mouth of the downspout, the places where clogs are most likely to form.

2. Roof

Inspect the roof for any repairs that need to be done ASAP. These include gaps in the flashing; damaged or loose roofing tiles or shingles; and vents/chimneys that have become loose, damaged or blocked.

3. Doors and Windows

Don’t let drafts leave you cold. Prevent heat from escaping your home by installing weatherstripping around doors. Caulk windows and trim to keep cold air out.

4. Front and Back Yards

Winterize your front and back yards by:

  • raking leaves; trimming branches of trees growing near the house; prepping flower beds for spring
  • inspecting fences for damage and/or rot
  • putting away outdoor furniture; properly storing yard equipment and tools used mainly in spring and summer
  • fixing leaking outdoor faucets; checking outdoor lights
  • repairing any cracks, holes, etc. on pathways and driveways that might get bigger or more problematic throughout fall and winter weather

5. Home Exterior

Inspect the foundation for signs of shifting. Check your home exterior for any damage such as rot, mold, dents and cracks. Fill visible holes and cracks wherever you find them – foundation, siding, exterior walls.

Do You Need New Gutters?

This spring when, you’re cleaning the gutters, it’s probably a good idea to take the time to inspect them, as well. Gutters and downspouts free of debris is a good thing. But to further prevent the possibility of water damage and costly repairs, look for signs that you might need to start over.


Rust stains are usually an indication that water is being collected rather than drained from the gutter system. If you, or the homeowner before you, have previously made repairs to aluminum gutters or gutters made of some other type of metal prone to rust, this could be an indication that all is not well. Perhaps it’s time to replace your old system, especially if whole sections are affected and you end up patching the patches.

Curb Appeal

When your curb appeal is no longer very appealing, you might need new gutters if:

  • sections are sagging
  • sections are missing
  • they’ve become discoulored or streaked
  • there are cracks
  • fasteners/hangers are coming loose
  • other parts of the structure (siding, fascia) have been damaged by water

Leaking Gutters

Leaking gutters are common problem that can easily be fixed by resealing the seams. However, if the gutter sections have been resealed too many times or they’ve shifted to a point where there’s a gap that can’t be filled in with caulking, a new gutter system might be the only viable solution.

Common Gutter Repairs

When something goes wrong with your gutters, it doesn’t necessarily mean the solution has to be time-consuming, expensive or both. During regular gutter maintenance, look for these common gutter repairs you can do now that might save you a lot of money later.

Sagging or MIA

Especially in the Lower Mainland where high winds and heavy rainfall can cause gutters to become loose or even missing in action, it’s important to check for sagging or gaps. Gutters that pull away from the fascia or missing gutter sections weaken the system and can cause damage to the roof, siding and foundation of your home by allowing water to go where it should not. To repair sagging gutters, replace worn brackets, remove rusted nails and tighten loose screws. Replace a missing section with a new length of gutter.


Bits of debris like twigs, pine needles, and leaves can enter and exit a gutter system safely without doing any harm. The problem occurs as accumulated buildup forms clogs. When water isn’t allowed to flow freely, it can spill over, creating a perfect place for mold and mildew. Stagnant rainwater is an inviting breeding ground for insects like mosquitoes. Clear the gutter system of any clogs. Plan to clean the gutters thoroughly at least once a year; at least twice a year if you have a trees growing close to the house.


Gutters leak for a number of reasons, but the biggest reason is the effect of the elements. Sun, wind, melting snow and heavy rainfall can cause cracks or holes to appear. Weather conditions combined with aging can wear away the sealant that joins the gutter sections together. Normal wear and tear is also a contributing factor: types of material, like aluminum or vinyl, expand and contract. Most leaks can be fixed by reapplying sealant to the affected seams – don’t forget to use the proper sealant for the type of material your gutters are made of. When larger holes and cracks can’t be filled in, they can be repaired by cutting out the damaged area and replacing it.

To ensure that they’re providing the best possible protection for your home, check the gutters from time to time for anything that needs attention. If you can’t fix it yourself, a qualified gutter contractor or exterior finishing contractor will be able repair or replace any broken parts – the longer you wait, the minor repair could become an expensive one.

Gutter Modification


Gutter Modification and Upgrade

Whether you’ve moved into a new-to-you home and inherited a gutter system without some type of leaf guard or you’ve lived there for several years but would like to upgrade your gutters, MHC Gutters can help. Our professionally trained gutters specialists can modify your existing system to maximize drainage and minimize the possibility of gutters overflowing with our unique funnel outlets, larger flush mount aluminum outlets and the addition of a leaf screen or leaf guard system. Especially older structures, home can settle; when they do, this can inadvertently readjust the slope of Vancouver gutters, causing them to allow water to pool or overflow. Re-sloping the gutters will ensure that water flows downwards toward the downpipes, and is efficiently channelled away from your home.

We can add some kind of leaf guard, including leaf screen and leaf catchers to most existing gutter systems. The gutter modification and upgrade services we offer are:

  • Re-sloping gutters
  • Installation of leaf catchers
  • Installation of leaf screen
  • Enlarging existing outlets

Leaf Guard Installation


Leaf Guard Installation

Since gutters are virtually open to the elements, they are the ideal place for leaves and debris to collect. Not only can debris clog your gutters and/or downpipes and cause the gutters to overflow, if water is not properly drained away from your home, it can create the perfect conditions for flooding or mold. Leaning a ladder against gutters to clear out debris can damage or dent them: some kind of leaf guard protection will make your gutter system easier to maintain, adding to the longevity of your gutters.

MHC Gutters offers several leaf guard options:

  • Installing a gutter leaf guard over your current gutter system
  • Installing a leaf guard system at the same time as a new gutter installation
  • Adding high flow funnels and leaf catchers to the downpipes

Products we use include:

  • A quality leaf guard products by Alu-Rex.
  • Leaf catchers are installed as part of the existing downpipe, near to the ground; typically used to keep leaves and larger pieces of debris from entering an underground downpipe configuration
  • High Flow Funnels to allow for an increased continuous water flow.

New Gutter Installation


New Gutter Installation

Serving the lower mainland, MHC Gutters has been in the industry since 1999, implementing meticulous new gutter installations. From the free estimate to assess your needs, requirements and preferences to the last stage of the installation process, we provide excellent service and use only quality products. We install residential gutters and commercial gutters, including condominium and strata gutters. Our completed projects include single residences, multi-family houses and wood frame apartment buildings. No job is too small or too large. To guarantee your safety and the durability and longevity of the work we do, we closely follow the BC Building Code and back our workmanship, products and services with the appropriate warranties.

Our trucks come fully equipped to complete a new gutter installation in a professional and timely manner. We offer seamless aluminum gutters in a variety of colours and styles, including K-style gutters, Flat Face gutters and 2-step gutters. We also install European gutters, available in copper, steel, zinc and powder coated steel and commercial steel box gutters.

When installing new Vancouver gutters, we will also remove the old gutter system. Whether it’s for your home, your business or a commercial property and is a standard or custom project, our fully-insured trained professionals will quickly and reliably install a new gutter system that meets all of your requirements.

Rain Chains

Rain Chains

Rain chains are a popular alternative to standard downspouts. Like a downspout, a rain chain channels water from the roof to the ground, a cistern or a rain barrel. Rain chains can add a unique decorative feature to a home’s appearance. Not just visually pleasing, a rain chain transforms the sound of water into a soothing symphony. They are also ideal for situations where there is not enough room to accommodate traditional downpipes or a downpipe does not enhance the overall design.

The way it works is simple: water is guided down the chain by surface tension and into a ground drain, a bed of gravel or some type of water collection system like a rain barrel. Rain chains are typically easier to install than downspouts and are often mounted from a bracket and through the hole where a standard downpipe would go.

The typical length is 8 feet, but most manufacturers sell by the foot so that the rain chain can be ordered to your specific requirements. The three basic kinds of rain chains are: cup rain chains, link rain chains and themed rain chains. They are available in a number of materials including copper, brass, aluminum and steel.

Some things to keep in mind when considering whether to choose rain chains over downpipes:

  • Rain chains are not recommended for 2-or-more-storey homes due to splashing issues
  • Optimal eave overhang needed is 3 feet
  • Rainwater that contains a high level of acid can age or add a patina to copper and brass; while some homeowners consider this a plus, others can see it as discolouration or marring of the metal’s appearance
  • Unlike a closed downspout system, a rain chain is an open system, which means water pours freely down from out of the gutter on to the chain. Any excess water not channeled down the rain chain will overflow on either side. This could be problematic when the chain is near paved rather than landscaped areas

Rain chains have been around for centuries, providing a decorative alternative to tradition downpipes or downspout systems. If you think a rain chain might be a good choice for your home, call us today.