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

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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.

Fall Curb Appeal

Crisp air, leaves changing colour, orange pumpkins, and bright yellow chrysanthemums – there is something very special about autumn. Adding seasonal touches to your home’s exterior is a simple way to update your curb appeal.

Decorate the Front Door

Transform the front door by hanging a garland of autumn leaves, trailing vines, or branches combined with small gourds. Pair the garland with a matching wreath.

Window Boxes

Another way to bring the spirit of fall to your front yard is to add window boxes. Fall flowers and seasonal grasses give color to the landscaping and lend charm to your home. When choosing the kind of window box, consider the type of material that will fit in with your home’s exterior. Wood boxes tend to add a rustic feel, while copper and iron window boxes provide a more traditional look.

Cleaning the Exterior

Clean the exterior of your home to remove accumulated grime, dirt, and particles before they etch glass panes and scratch siding. You don’t have to do it all at once. Spraying the siding with water first will give you a better idea if you need a soft bristle brush and a pail of soapy water. Spruce up the windows, doors, trim, and steps on another day.

Thoroughly clean the gutter system inside and out. Yes, it’s more important to get rid of the debris inside the gutter channel. But removing surface dirt from the gutter face helps preserve the finish.

Don’t forget to clean hardscape elements such as a pathway, driveway, wood deck or paved patio, especially if they are visible from the street.

Lawn TLC

Leave the leaves for the trees. It’s not just a matter of aesthetics. Once they have fallen and are left on the ground, they can do your lawn more harm than good. A lawn must be allowed to breathe. Layers of leaves block sunlight, oxygen, and water required for a healthy lawn. Trapped moisture in the soil can lead to fungi growth. Rake the lawn, seed bald patches and add fertilizer.

Those Finishing Touches

Flank planters on either side of the door and on the stairs leading up to the house.

Add edging – plants, stone, brickwork – to sidewalks and driveways. Use fall plants and/or flowering shrubs.

Create an autumn-themed display by repurposing a little red wagon, old wheelbarrow, or vintage wash tub.

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.

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.

Things You Should Know About Siding

Siding doesn’t just protect your home’s exterior; it also adds personality and creates curb appeal. It is one of the first things visitors and passersby notice. Whether you’re purchasing for the first time or you’re considering replacing existing cladding, here are some things you should know about siding.

The Purpose of Siding

Siding serves a number of purposes both aesthetic and functional. These include:

  • protection from the elements, anything from the sun beating down to driving rain to punishing winds
  • enhances the design of the structure
  • brings together all the aspects of the home’s exterior – visual harmony
  • expresses the character of your home while blending in with the community

Siding Material Variety

Vinyl siding is the number one siding choice in North America. Other popular siding materials are aluminum, wood, and fiber cement. But, according to sources, there are over 15 different types of siding available to the consumer. While aluminum is a typical siding material other metals such as steel are being used.

If you love the idea of cedar shingles but don’t want to commit to a high-maintenance material, there are fiber cement siding and vinyl siding finishes that imitate the look of real wood siding without the cost and upkeep. The same goes for real stone or brick – for almost every natural siding material there is a faux alternative. In today’s market, there are more options than ever, including an impressive range of colours to complement any residential style and design.

Siding and the Environment

Excluding wood siding, siding is generally low maintenance, being durable and requiring fewer resources to maintain.

Aluminum siding and steel siding are 100% recyclable.

Some manufacturers are environmentally conscious when manufacturing siding products, employing processes that do not consume too much energy and reduce the number of toxins released into the environment.

In the past, asbestos was commonly used in the construction industry because of its low cost and fireproofing properties. The manufacture of materials made of or containing asbestos such as siding, roofing, and insulation was banned in Canada in 1979. However, non-friable (cannot be reduced to powder) products containing asbestos continued to be used in the construction of homes well into the 1990s. If an older home with asbestos siding becomes damaged, it must be inspected, repaired, and/or removed according to strict guidelines by a licensed asbestos contractor. Canada is set to implement a complete asbestos ban by 2018.

While it is true that different types of siding better insulate your home than others, siding, in general, helps regulate heating and cooling cycles, reducing energy costs.

Taking Care of Your Soffit and Fascia

Soffit and fascia are constantly exposed to the elements year after year. While gutters play a major role in keeping water from gathering behind the fascia and seeping into soffit panels, simple maintenance can help prolong the lifespan of the exterior finishing elements that make up the roofline.

Inspect Soffit and Fascia

Prevention goes a long way to avoiding expensive repairs or replacement of soffit and fascia. Soffit panels cover the underside of a roof’s overhang; fascia boards seal off the ends of the roof rafters from the elements. Periodically inspect soffit and fascia for potential problems such as:

  • soft spots or rotting – applicable to wood soffit and fascia only
  • warping – applicable to wood soffit and fascia only
  • holes
  • peeling or bubbled paint
  • stained surfaces
  • cracking and splitting – applicable to vinyl and wood soffits and fascia
  • panels or boards separating from the house
  • missing fascia and/or soffit panels

The most common reason for water damage to soffit and fascia is overflowing gutters. Check to see if there are clogs in the gutter channel or blockages around the gutter outlet.

Clean Soffit and Fascia

Soffits are fabricated from three main types of material: wood, vinyl, and metal. While their key purpose is aesthetic, soffits also make the roofline stronger. Due to constant exposure to the elements, soffit boards can become grimy and collect bits of debris in corners, around vents, etc. Whatever they are made of, most surface dirt should be easily removed by washing with a solution of mild detergent. When stronger cleaning methods are needed, ensure that you use a cleaner that won’t damage the material the soffits are made from.

Fascia boards are also made from wood, vinyl, and metal, most commonly aluminum. Washing fascia at least once a year maintains their appearance. Removing streaks and grime reduces potential damage that environmental pollutants might harm the finish of the fascia boards, minimizing how well they protect your home.

Repair Soffit and Fascia

Small holes or cracks in wood soffit and fascia can be repaired, and warped sections of fascia or soffit panels can be removed then replaced. Even when repairs can be made to soffits and fascia made of wood, many roofing contractors advise replacement with comparable aluminum or vinyl products that require less maintenance and care.

In most cases, metal or aluminum soffit and fascia can be repaired or repainted. However, vinyl soffits and fascia typically have to be replaced when damaged.

What is Gutter Flashing?

Flashings are thin pieces of water-resistant material used to protect a structure from water infiltration. Flashing is typically installed where two surfaces are joined together like around a chimney, skylight, window, door or vent. Gutter flashing prevents water from getting in behind the gutters, increasing functionality and providing additional protection to your home’s exterior.

Gutter Flashings

Gutter flashings serve three main purposes. The first function is to direct water directly into the gutters, preventing it from damaging the fascia and soffit. If water is not drained properly from the roof, it causes water damage and invites mold/mildew/algae growth.

The second purpose of a gutter apron or drip edge is to support the weight of the shingles. It helps prevent the shingles that hang an inch to two inches past the edge of the roof from curling, shifting or cracking.

The third function of gutter flashing is to cover the space between where the gutter meets roofline. It can prevent animals from prying up shingles and damaging the roof, soffit, and fascia and/or entering your home.

Today, many roofers automatically add gutter flashing when they’re installing the roofing system. However, older homes, constructed in the past twenty years or more did not have gutter flashings unless specifically required. A house typically needs flashings when the roofline does not extend far enough past the edge of the gutter. Gutter flashing is also used on roofs with a low slope, where water could flow back in behind the gutters.

Types of Gutter Flashing

The two main types of gutter flashings are a gutter apron and a drip edge. Gutter aprons typically go over the roof deck, under the shingles, and then over the back edge of the gutters.

A drip edge attaches over the roof deck, under the first row of shingles, and directly onto the fascia or rake boards, behind the back of the gutter. Drip edges are generally used where you have no gutters, the roof has a unique configuration, or the roof is shallow or low-pitched. They are designed to allow water to drip clear of the fascia, roof deck and/or rake boards.

Flashing Specifics

Gutter aprons and drip edges are typically made of metal and plastic.

Flashings used for gutter aprons are bent at an angle, usually at a 35-degree angle. It can vary depending on the manufacturer and fabrication technique.

Gutter flashings can be custom fabricated to meet specific job requirements.

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.