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

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What does it mean to Install Gutters Properly?

When troubleshooting rain gutters some common problems such as overflowing and standing water can be attributed to an incorrectly installed gutter system. Gutters play an important role in how well a gutter system protects your home. Factors that contribute to a successful gutter installation include the correct slope, number of downspouts, and the number of hangers.

Gutter Material

Each type of gutter material has its own properties and needs to be installed accordingly. A contractor that specializes in seamless aluminum gutters might be less knowledgeable about copper gutter systems. A professional gutter installation technician will also know not to mix metals.

Positioning

Gutters installed too close to the roofline encourage water to slide in between the back of the gutter and the fascia. Gutters should hang several inches below the edge of the roof to allow water to directly enter the gutter system.

Gutter sections should be level – no leaning forward or backward – to avoid runoff from spilling over the sides.

In the past, it has been an accepted gutter installation practice to let water drain directly onto a lower roof level. However, since it tends to age a roof faster, many contractors now advise installing gutters on every sloped roof edge.

Sloping Downward

Gutters need to slope downward, guiding water toward the downpipes. The slope, also known as pitch, needs to be enough of an angle to keep water flowing through the gutter channel to the gutter outlet (where downspout connects to gutter section).

Number of Downspouts

If the number of downspouts isn’t properly calculated, insufficient downpipes could jeopardize the lifespan of a gutter system. In order to optimally protect a house from water damage, downspouts need to be placed for maximum functionality and end far enough away from the foundation.

Number of Hangers

Gutters need the right number of hangers to hold them in place, fastening them securely to the fascia. If too many gutter hangers are used, it spoils the aesthetics of your home and adds more parts to an aluminum gutter system that are prone to rust. If too few are used, it makes the gutters vulnerable to wind and heavy rainfalls.

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.

Clean the Roof Before the Gutters

Fall is here and it’s time to start on that home maintenance checklist to get our homes ready for winter. Clearing off the roof first before the cleaning out the gutters should help reduce the amount of debris entering the gutter system.

DIY or Roofing Contractor

Before tackling a DIY roof cleaning, consider hiring a roofing pro. A roof contractor does much more than remove twigs and dirt. Most roof cleaning services include a thorough inspection, will reattach or replace loose and damaged flashings, do repairs, and replace damaged/missing roof tiles. A roofing contractor will also be able to tell if you have moss or algae growing on your roof – in the early stages, it can be invisible to the eye. Hire a professional when:

  • the house is two or more storeys
  • the roof configuration includes multiple levels
  • the roof is too steep
  • you don’t have the right tools, equipment and cleaning solutions on hand

Cleaning the Roof

When cleaning the roof, choose methods and cleaning solutions that won’t harm roofing shingles. Above all, be safe: use proper safety protocols; if possible, have someone helping you.

Begin by removing any loose debris such as leaves, branches and pine cones. Most types of debris can be lightly swept away with a broom or rake. Pay attention to roof valleys and roof protrusions (dormer window, skylight, etc.) where debris can build up.

If the roof is stained or streaked, it should be cleaned with a bleach solution or chemical cleaning product to kill the organisms responsible for the algae/mildew/moss growth.

Be patient – the solution, whether it’s homemade or store-bought, will have to sit for a while and might not seem to be working. If the algae doesn’t wash away in the next two or three rainfalls or the moss isn’t loose enough to be removed by hand or with a leaf blower, you might need another application.

Don’ts and Dos of Roof Cleaning

Don’t step on the roof before ensuring it’s sound and dry.
Do take safety precautions including using the ladder properly, wearing non-slip soled shoes, and choosing the right weather conditions to work in (e.g. not too windy).
 
Don’t use a pressure washer.
Do use a spray nozzle attached to a garden hose.
 
Don’t ignore moss growth – once it takes hold, it can weigh a roof down. It can’t just be cleaned; it must be removed.
Do take preventative measures once the moss has been removed. Trim back trees around the house to allow as much sunlight on the roof as possible.

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.

Damaged Gutters and What You can do about Them

Gutters are designed to withstand the elements, protect your home and be strong and durable. But as they age, they become vulnerable. Fortunately, the signs are easy to identify. If your gutter system is damaged, here is what you can do to prevent the situation from becoming worse.

Signs of Damaged Gutters

Damage to gutters occurs in a variety of ways. It can be as simple as leaning a ladder against aluminum gutters or as complicated as a tree crashing onto the roof during a storm. Common signs of damaged gutters are:

  • sagging
  • warping
  • dents
  • rusting
  • separation of seams
  • fading gutter colour
  • water stains

When Gutters are Damaged

If the gutter system hasn’t been cleaned in a while leaves, twigs and other bits of debris build up inside the gutter channel. As the gutters become weighed down they can sag and warp. If the gutter sections are held in place by brackets, these might pull away from the fascia, allowing the gutters to sag even more.

Dents “cave” inward, reducing the amount of water flowing through that section of the system. The more pronounced the dent the more likely debris will snag creating clogs.

Fading gutter colour isn’t just about appearance. The colour of metal gutters, including aluminum gutters, is baked on. Fading indicates the finish has been compromised or weakened, allowing further damage to occur.

Rusting and the separation of seams are typical signs of a deteriorating gutter system.

Water stains on siding, soffit, and fascia might indicate overflowing gutters. If left unchecked, overflowing can cause soffit and/or fascia to rot. It can also be responsible for the appearance of mold or mildew on your home’s exterior.

Taking Action

When deciding on what course of action to take, first assess how severe the damage is. A small dent or a handful of pinholes due to rust can be repaired. On the other hand, if you’ve had to reseal leaking or separated seams five times in one season, it’s probably time to replace the gutter system. Any damage such as sagging, dents, or the separation of seams that obstructs the gutters’ ability to efficiently move water to the downspouts should be fixed as soon as possible.

Sagging, warping and water stains can be fixed by:

  • thoroughly cleaning the gutter system
  • reattaching or replacing loose nails or fasteners
  • checking the gutter slope and readjusting if required

Sections affected by dents and fading gutter colour can be replaced. Where there are too many dents or the colour has faded in three or more areas, consider replacing all of the gutters

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.

Should You Hire Someone to Clean the Gutters?

When gutters aren’t cleaned regularly, it can lead to major problems such as a flooded basement, damaged siding, or water-stained interior walls. While the main reason for cleaning the gutters yourself is to save money, there are several other very good reasons for hiring someone to do it for you.

Safety Concerns

One of the top three preventable non-work-related accidents is falling off a ladder while performing home maintenance chores. If you’re not clear on all aspects of ladder safety or you’re just not fond of heights, avoid the risk of personal injury by hiring a gutter cleaning company.

Not Cleaned in a Long Time

If the gutters haven’t been cleaned in a long time or inspected for potential repairs, the whole process will take longer. Also, it will most likely be a little less straightforward. Hiring a gutter professional, in this case, will not only ensure that the gutters and downspouts get thoroughly cleaned, but that problem areas are identified and then addressed.

Never had to Clean the Gutters

You’ve never had to clean the gutters before. Whether it’s because you’ve lived in a condo or could always get someone to volunteer, gutter cleaning has never been a part of your home maintenance routine. Although it might seem like something you can figure out, instinctively reaching for the power washer, for example, might actually harm aluminum gutters. A gutter cleaning service will know the best way to clean your home’s gutter system.

Your House

Consider hiring a gutter cleaning company if your house:

  • is two or more storeys
  • is large
  • has a complex roofing system (i.e. multiple levels)
  • has a built-in gutter system

Right Equipment

Sure, the ladder is a couple of rungs too short, but it’ll be okay if you can still reach? A professional gutter company will have the right equipment, including extension ladders, various gutter cleaning tools, and scaffolding if it’s needed.

Right Know-How

A gutter installation company will provide quick and efficient cleaning. It’s probably going to take a DIY-er longer to complete a gutter cleaning project than a professional, on average 2 to 3.5 hours depending on the size of the house and roof configuration. A good gutter cleaning company offers a number of services including, special gutter-face treatments (i.e. moss/algae removal), replacing worn brackets, property clean-up, and any necessary follow-up calls or visits.

Tips for Buying Seamless Gutters

Seamless gutters are a popular choice with homeowners because they have a smooth appearance and are low maintenance. They are fabricated on site from a continuous length of metal, reducing the number of seams and places leaks can form. Use these tips to get the most out of your new seamless gutter system.

Gutter Installation Process

Take your time finding a good contractor that will reliably guide you through the gutter installation process from start to finish. When selecting a contractor, things to avoid include:

  • someone who appears to have their own agenda (pushing certain products, overselling, etc.)
  • a quote that’s too high
  • a quote that’s too low
  • not given a firm time frame for when the gutters will be installed

Get at least three estimates. A gutter installation company will make suggestions and give advice regarding the specific details of the seamless gutter system you want to buy. But before asking for an estimate, decide on the basics first, such as gutter width, profile, gutter material, and colour.

Materials

Seamless gutters, also known as continuous gutters, are manufactured from metals such as aluminum, copper, and steel. They come in different gauges or thicknesses. While higher gauges of metal are usually more expensive, they also tend to last longer and to be stronger than the same metal of a lower gauge.

Colour

Gutter systems made from copper or galvanized steel typically aren’t available in other colours (the gutter material is the colour). Seamless aluminum gutters are made from feeding flat aluminum on a coil into a gutter machine. A gutter installation company typically offers a range of colours that will complement your home’s exterior.

Cost

The cost of seamless gutters is generally based on how many linear feet of guttering needed. Other factors that help determine the total cost are:

  • type of gutter material used
  • gutter width – 6” gutters are more expensive than 5”
  • the number of storeys (height of your home)
  • if the roof has multiple levels
  • two or more downspouts

Why You should have a Landscape Plan

Landscaping that incorporates and harmonizes the different aspects of a home’s exterior creates the best curb appeal. It’s not just about what types of plants and shrubs go where. An effective landscape plan utilizes a variety of elements to create the outdoor space you envision for your home, such as a deck or patio, a flagstone pathway, perhaps a pond or a gazebo.

Purpose

Decide what the purpose is of the landscaping – to entertain, increase resale value, create more visual appeal, replace annuals with eco-friendly plants. When creating a landscape design that is multipurpose, select a unifying theme to connect the different elements or areas together.

What’s Included

If you want a deck, will it include a barbecue or grill? Will you park a wrought iron bench near one of the flower beds? You picture more formal landscaping – would a gazebo be out of place? Since you’re upgrading the garden anyway, maybe the landscape plan should include trees near the southwest corner of the house to protect the living room from the mid-afternoon sun.

When choosing what is to be included in your landscaping design take into consideration height (you don’t want to block your neighbour’s view), building codes, permits, and safety (swimming pool or pond and small children).

Budgeting

You have all these dreams for your perfect backyard, but now you have to make then a reality. Take the time to set a budget: it will help you focus on what’s important and ensure you don’t run out of funds in the middle of repaving the driveway or building the deck. A general rule of thumb dictates that a project involving construction will cost more than adding shrub containers by the entry door or replanting the flowerbeds at the front of the house. Include labour costs for anything you don’t plan to DIY.

Tree Placement

If your landscape plan will be adding more trees to your property, don’t forget about your gutters, siding, and roof. Trees grow tall enough to shed leaves and needles into the gutter system, brush up against siding or damage the roof in a storm. Plant trees to provide shade or protection from the wind while ensuring they won’t interfere with the gutter system, the siding or your roof.