This is a guest post by Stan Horst of the Kingsley Bate furniture company.
My home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia sits on five acres of fairly wooded land. Come autumn, the colour display of all these trees is absolutely spectacular. The price I pay for this beauty, though, is several weeks of raking leaves and a weekend spent cleaning out gutters.
We don’t spend much time thinking about gutters. They’re a bit like the plumbing, electrical system and furnace in our home – inconspicuous, easily forgotten components that are ignored until something goes wrong.
But gutters are absolutely essential for diverting water away from your home’s foundation. Without gutters, sheets of water fall directly from the roof to the ground, soaking the soil and foundation, as well as any hapless guests trying to reach the front door.
During cold weather like we have in Virginia, these sheets of water can become sheets of ice on the ground and entryway, creating a safety hazard. Water puddling at the base of your home can cause moisture in the basement, settling, and may eventually cause your foundation to become unstable.
So how should you take care of your gutters? Here’s my simple step-by-step approach:
- Remove lawn furniture, toys, bikes and equipment from the base of the house so you can safely access the gutters. A patio furniture storage bench is ideal for storing toys and equipment.
- Get on a stable ladder and pull the leaves and gunk out of the gutters. Wait until most of the leaves have fallen, and wear sturdy leather gloves while you work. You’ll be surprised at what you find in the gutters – tennis balls, toys, dirt, and even the occasional small animal or bird. Clean the downpipes out well. These areas can become completely clogged with sticks and leaves.
- Inspect the spikes that secure the gutters to the house. These spikes should run through the fascia of the house and into the rafters. They can become loose over time though, causing the gutters to sag or break. Replace loose or broken spikes so the gutters are tightly secured.
- Check the gutters for holes or leaks along the seams. During a storm, water pours through these leaks like a sieve. Remove old caulking with a chisel and caulk the leaks with an exterior-grade silicone caulk.
- Check the rivets on the downpipe. These rivets frequently fall out, causing the downpipe to come apart during a heavy storm. Buy new rivets at your local hardware or home improvement store and install them with a rivet gun.
- Wash the gutters. You can use an ordinary garden hose with a nozzle attachment, or a power washer. Set the power washer to a low setting, and spray the stream of water at an angle, rather than directly at the gutters. Rent power washers at your local home improvement store if you don’t own one.
- Once the gutters have dried, remove rust with a steel brush and touch up the paint.
If your gutters are rusted, dented or leaking, you may be better off replacing them than trying to fix them every year. New aluminium or vinyl gutters don’t rust and need little maintenance. Screened gutters keep leaves and gunk out, making annual maintenance a snap!
[Mel’s note: This is certainly quite relevant if you’re coming into the wet season. Our gutters could certainly do with some maintenance.]
About the Author
Stan Horst, a former cabinet and furniture maker, lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. He maintains a website dedicated to educating consumers about high quality furniture makers, such as the Kingsley Bate furniture company. Horst enjoys spending time with his family fishing, hiking and camping.
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.