With cooler weather starting to creep in, your thoughts may be turning to how to keep your home warm and dry when autumn is well and truly upon us.
The exterior of your home also needs to be maintained and protected in order to provide a warm, weather-proof dwelling for you and your loved ones.
Gutters and rooves that are not maintained can mean costly repairs down the road, and even major catastrophe if your home needs to be vacated while repairs are carried out.
Water that cannot be diverted from your home will spill over the sides of your gutters and seep underground, potentially causing structural issues, rotting, mould and mildew.
Let’s look at ways to maintain your guttering so it can withstand the worst of autumn and winter weather.
Signs of Blocked Gutters
What are the signs that your gutters need attention? If you notice any (or all) of the following, it’s time to give your gutters some TLC!
-Overflow after heavy rain – this is an indication that your gutters are clogged, leaving nowhere for the excess water to go
-Signs of Pest Invasion – if you can see birds, mice or other vermin in the vicinity of your gutters, it’s probably because they are nesting there, a sure sign that your gutters are full of debris
-Gardens in your Gutters – can you see plant growth in your gutters? Seeds can be blown into the dirt and debris of your gutters and plants can put down roots.
-Broken, Sagging or Detached Gutters – this is a sign that your gutters are well and truly blocked, and that the weight of the debris is causing serious structural damage to your gutters.
Using a sturdy ladder, check your gutters regularly for build-up of leaves and debris. Clearing clutters on a regular basis can avoid a build-up which eventually causes issues with rust and corrosion.
Trim trees regularly to prevent branches, twigs and leaves dropping into your gutters. Trees with branches overhanging gutters are ‘possum highways’ which can lead to roof tile damage.
Use a sturdy ladder to do an initial inspection of your gutters. A pair of binoculars or the zoom function on your phone camera can help you identify areas of concern.
If you spot an issue, make a decision as to whether you have the right equipment and expertise to deal with it. Standing or walking on your roof can be dangerous if you are not sure of its condition or of any potential safety concerns.
When inspecting your home’s guttering, you may encounter the following issues:
- Areas of guttering which are sagging or coming away from the roof
- Spots of rust or areas which have completely rusted through and are now leaking
- Signs of rust, buckling or other damage to downpipes
- Loose nails and screws
- Moisture or water pooling on the ground at the base of gutters and downpipes. Signs of erosion may indicate a problem with drainage – water should be directed away from your property foundations.
Clearing and Cleaning Your Gutters
Your gutters should be cleaned at least once a year – every six months if trees overhang your roof. Gutters are prone to clogging where the downspouts join the gutter system – check these areas particularly.
Ensure you have a steady ladder, one that reaches above the height of your gutters, so you can see what you’re doing.
Have a plan for disposal of the debris as you clean – lay down tarpaulins or place plastic containers along the ground to catch the debris as it drops.
Wear a thick, long-sleeved shirt or water-proof jacket to protect you while you’re cleaning.
Scoop leaves and debris from gutters with a sand-scoop, gutter scoop, garden trowel or simply your hands if you are wearing sturdy, water-proof gloves.
When your gutters are clear of debris, flush them with a garden hose. This will identify any leaks and rusted patches.
Gutter cleaning is a service offered by many home maintenance companies. The cost ranges from $80 to a few hundred depending on the size and height of your home.
Simple gutter repairs can be a DIY job provided you have the right equipment. After clearing the debris, make sure your gutters and clean and dry.
Examine your gutters for rust or holes. Gutter rust usually forms along the seams of the joints as well as the places where rainwater drops from your roof. Remove any rust using a wire brush.
Repair holes with gutter sealant or roof adhesive, and re-align gutter joints. Apply gutter sealant to seal holes that still form. Tighten hangers to fix gutter sagging.
If your gutters continue to sag or leak, consider replacing the affected panels. Guttering panels, equipment and accessories can be bought from most hardware chains.
Some people use gutter guards or covers to limit the amount of dirt and debris that falls into gutters. This can be an expensive option, with more maintenance required for the guards themselves.
Worried about your home?
A comprehensive building inspection or special purpose inspection from The Home Inspection will check for a range of issues and defects in the exterior and interior of your home, including your roof and gutters.
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