How To Clean And Maintain Guttering
Living in the UK means we never quite know what the weather has in store, even during the summer months. This makes taking care of your guttering a little trickier as it has to go through a lot of seasonal and temperature changes throughout the year.
Homeowners should always pay attention to the guttering system to ensure it remains clear and in good working condition, so water drainage can occur without any issue. With that in mind, we have put together a guide so you understand how to clean and maintain guttering on your property.
Cleaning Different Sections Of The Guttering
Cleaning the guttering attached to your roofline is a relatively straightforward task. What shouldn’t be forgotten are the different elements of the entire system will also have to be cleaned out to ensure it remains in good working order.
- Clear out any debris
Place the ladder at the low end of the gutter as this is where most of the debris is likely to have gathered. A narrow garden trowel or gutter scoop will be enough to gather up loose debris. This is easy to do when the debris is damp as it can be scooped up without much effort. If left for too long, the debris can become soggy or encrusted and require more effort to clear it out of the way. Place the debris into a bucket or plastic bag so you don’t have to collect it off the floor later on.
- Use a hose to clean the gutter interior
An on-off high-pressure nose nozzle attached to a hose is good for this part of the job. Use it to wash out each length of gutter, with the water directed towards the drain so it can run through the system and away from the house. If it hasn’t been cleaned for a while there may be a lot of mud splashback, so try to keep the pressure low so as not to create too much mess on the roof or house. A stiff scrub brush can also be used to remove stubborn dirt and marks.
- Unclog the downpipe
If you notice the water is running freely through the system there could be obstructions in the downpipe that need clearing. The pressure created by the hose may be enough to clear the blockages and flush them out of the system. If this doesn’t work, a plumber’s auger (snake) will help to loosen the debris so it can drop out the downpipe. Try this from the bottom at first, or alternatively, push the tool into the downpipe from the top, being careful not to apply too much pressure to affect the security of the system attachments.
Why Should I Clean My Gutters?
Rain gutters can be easily forgotten about after they have been installed. Once the hard work of putting them in place is over, there is a tendency to think that they will remain in perfect working condition forever.
While that is mostly the case, like anything else in or around the house, the guttering will have to be cleaned on occasion. The reason they should be cleaned is to ensure the water flow continues unhindered so the guttering system can clear away rainfall, ice and snow throughout the year.
How Often Should I Clean My Gutters?
Much of this will depend on where you live and the general climate in your local area. Also, how many trees are in your back garden and their vicinity to the roof and guttering will play a big contributing factor.
It is recommended that guttering is cleaned out at least twice a year, to ensure any dry leaves, stones, twigs and any other material is removed. Late summer/early autumn is a good time to clean the guttering as the leaves are shedding from the trees and the wind is picking up which means they can be easily carried into the system. Late spring is also another recommended period as leaves are starting to bloom and the number of leaves falling from the trees can also be quite high at this time.
What Can Clogged Gutters Cause?
Not cleaning the guttering can create far more problems than just poor water flow or a clogged system. Below are a few examples of other problems that could develop if the gutter is left unattended for too long:
- Mould and leaky gutters
If the gutter and downpipe are not cleaned out and water overflow starts to develop, the leaves in the standing water will decompose, making the water dirty which will slowly develop mould. In wetter climates, the mould is commonplace and can create health problems if it starts to spread inside of the property.
- Leaking roofs and basements
Avoiding cleaning the gutter system will eventually create leaks in the roof as water will be soaked through the shingles and lead to heavy damage. If the downpipe is also clogged, the water will not drain far enough away from the property and can seep into your basement, if you own one. Water damage in the basement can wreak havoc with electrics or other utilities, as well as affecting the foundation of the property itself.
- Insects and animals
Insects, birds, mice, squirrels and other animals are constantly moving in and around the guttering. Warm, moist, decomposing leaves act as a great source of food for many of these. If they become accustomed to finding these in your guttering system, it won’t be long until they start to investigate inside of the property too.
- Garden and driveway damage
If your garden is overexposed to water, this can also create additional problems. Water can sometimes pool underground, or on the surface of the floor, which can kill off plants and affect the quality of the lawn. Slick mould can also develop on the driveway if it comes into contact with it too often. During the winter, there is also the chance it can freeze over and become slippery. For children and older adults, this could become a serious issue.