Fall is here in Atlanta, and so are the falling leaves, which spell trouble for your roof. If you aren't careful, it is possible that those leaves and/or debris will clog your gutters and downspouts, backing up water and exposing your roof to a moisture disaster. So, what can you do to prevent damage to your roof? Get gutter guards and get your gutters cleaned and winterized before the winter season arrives.
Gutter cleaning and winterization
Cleaning gutters involves some method of physical removal of any debris that is obstructing the path of water flow through the gutters and downspouts. While gutter guards help protect gutters from the bulk of the debris, sometimes, depending on the type installed, debris still causes potential issues. Sometimes, leaves get stuck and lay atop the guards, and other times, in the case of curved gutter guards, they find their way inside through small openings. Winterization, in terms of gutters, means to prepare the gutters for the incoming elements of winter. During the winter, Atlanta gets rain, sleet, hail and sometimes snow. You need to make sure that your gutters are fully functioning and ready to handle the elements.
What is the best time to do a cleaning?
You should have your gutters cleaned and/or inspected twice a year--once in the late fall, when the leaves have finished falling, and then again in the early spring. Both the gutters and the downspouts (vertical pipes) need examination and removal of any blockage. Debris blockage will trap water on the roof, damaging the roof and causing wood rot, shingle deterioration and/or leaks.
Methods of cleaning
There are several methods of cleaning:
- Hire a contractor: This is your best option for gutter cleaning. A skilled contractor will get your gutters cleaned the safest way possible. They are also the best qualified to make sure that your gutters are working properly to expel water away from the roof.
- DIY cleaning tools: There are many tools available, both powered and manual, to help clean gutters and downspouts. Some of these are for use at ground level and come as attachments to blowers, vacuums and garden hoses, while others are hand tools requiring a more up-close approach with a ladder. Regardless of the tool you use, you probably will need to get up close to make sure you get all the debris out; for some, this is not an option.
- Robots: There is a debris adaptive, robot gutter cleaner on the market that cleans gutters by removing leaves and clogs. However, it has some major shortcomings. It will not work with already heavily clogged gutters or ones filled with a lot of wet, heavy, moist debris. It gets stuck, often requiring manual attendance. Further, the battery charge will typically not last through a full cleaning. So, this is not really a viable option for a thorough cleaning or for homes with a lot of trees in their surrounding area.
Gutters and guards
To help reduce cleanup, there are gutter guards available for installation on your gutters. Guards work to deflect debris and keep bulk debris out of the gutter. There are many kinds of guards available, and there is no one size fits all for homes. Choosing the right guard depends on the pitch of the roof, the type of shingles, and the surrounding tree coverage near your home. A roofing professional will help you decide what the best product is for your home. If you already have gutter guards or if you do get them installed, keep in mind that your gutters will still need maintenance and winterization. Gutter guards keep out the big debris, but the gutters should still be checked twice a year to make sure that water is flowing properly out and away from the home.
Other maintenance required
Gutter winterization involves many other aspects that most homeowners commonly don't think about. Proper maintenance can prolong a gutter system's life by five to 10 years. Some other aspects of maintenance that need consideration are below:
- Dent / Damage: Inspect gutters for any damage that works to hinder the flow of water. Promptly repair any damage that disturbs the water flow.
- Brackets: Inspect all the brackets holding up the gutters for wear and support. Make sure the gutters are fully secured. Any loose or worn brackets need replacement so gutters do not get weighed down by water flow, debris and/or ice.
- Seals: The seals that bind the corners of gutters together need re-sealing every so often so that cracks and gaps don't cause leakage. Water needs to make it to the downspouts for removal, not seeping out the sides of the gutters.
- Spouts: Examine spouts for damage and effectiveness. They must direct water away from the home without any pools of water on the roof or ground level.
- Trees: Trees in the surrounding yard need maintenance and trimming to help keep leaves out of the gutter and branches off of the roof.
Time to replace gutters
How do you know when it is time to replace your gutters? Take a look at the questions below.
- Are there streaks on your siding near gutters?
- Do you see any puddles or channels of water after a hard rain?
- Are the gutters noticeably falling apart or pulling away from the home?
- Do they look worn, and have you noticed poor functioning?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, the time is probably near. To protect your roof and home, replace a faulty system before the winter approaches. Need new gutters? Call a roofing professional now.