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Cleaning and Repairing Gutters in Winter

Preeti Sunil
Falling leaves and the changing hues of drying foliage make for a pleasant view from inside your home. The elements of this pretty sight also signal the onset of autumn, means you have to get hold of those tools, rake the fallen leaves out of the gutters and haul them away from the water channels.
Are you one of those people who calls the gutter maintenance folks only when there's an obvious leakage in the house or when you have spotted a couple of walls with mold or peeling paint? Cleaning and repairing gutters in winter can be an expensive affair, especially when you have waited until significant damage has occurred.
Winterizing your house includes maintenance of gutters before late fall, so that you prepare well in advance to keep the walls mold free and the gutters clog free. Before you call in a guttering expert, there are some things you can do with some simple tools to clean the gutters and drainpipes.

Tips for Gutter Maintenance

♦ Get hold of a rake and start clearing the debris out of the gutters and downspouts. Use buckets or bags to collect the debris.
♦ Check all the openings that channel water into the downspouts. Keep a sealing material such as "putty" handy to plug any small leaks that you may uncover.
♦ By using a small hose you can inspect the water flow at various points in the gutter and downspouts.
The clogged downspouts usually clear out due to the force of the water from the hose. If the blockage is particularly stubborn, you may need a high-powered hose that's available with guttering technicians.
♦ If you have seepage within your home, you may want to track down the entry points. If it is a substantial leak, it's better to get professional help to create a waterproof barrier to seal the entry.
♦ If you have several trees around your home, it might be worthwhile to install gutter guards to prevent leaves and sticks from falling in and clogging the gutter.
♦ If your house is prone to ice dam formation, avoid damage to the guttering system on the roof as soon as possible. Check the underside of the roof trims for dampness. Damage due to ice dams can be detrimental to your home exterior and interiors, heavy on your purse to repair.
A good roof ventilation and insulation system can prevent the formation of ice dams. Contrary to popular belief, using snow rakes and shovels to clear roof ice does not serve as a long-term solution to ice dams.
In fact, it can be damaging to the insulating layer of the roof and needless to say, extremely dangerous for the person involved in the activity. It is quite important to get rid of ice dams before you decide to solve your own problem by getting on the roof.
♦ Snow guards installed along the edge of your roof ensures that the ice fill is broken up as it slides downwards, instead of forming a giant ice fill that brings your roof gutters down with it.
♦ A heating cable that runs through the roof gutter along its edge can be helpful in preventing ice fills. Consult an expert to check if this is needed for your roof gutters.
♦ If you have a rather old construction, chances are that the metal on the guttering system has deteriorated. If you need to install a new guttering system, do not wait until the next winter.
If your leakage problems are traced to a leaky gutter, despite all the cleaning and unclogging, it indicates that it is high time you got a new gutter installed.
♦ Mold on walls, leaky exteriors and rotten vegetation in gutters are all ideal conditions for insects and vermin. Ensure that you do not ignore this major health hazard lurking around your house.
In terms of health and diseases, it is commonly said that prevention is better than cure. Well, it applies to your house too. Well-maintained gutters not only prevent leakages and wall seepage, but they also look good and function well for a longer period of time.
If you have ever had a comprehensive guttering system installed in your house, you would know that it's a costly affair that you don't want to get into for quite some time. Well, you don't have to if you undertake the cleaning and repairing activity once every year before late fall, or more frequently if you have an old system.