The role of eavestroughs and gutters is to direct water away from the foundation of your home. But an improperly maintained gutter can cause expensive water damage. Fortunately, it isn’t difficult to clean and maintain your eavestrough – and it’s well worth the effort.
What you’ll need
You will need a couple of things to clean out and maintain your eavestrough, most of which you probably already own:
- Extendable ladder – You’ll need a ladder that allows you to safely and easily reach your eavestrough. In order to avoid damage to your eavestrough, you should ideally use a ladder with standoff stabilizers – also known as ladder “horns”.
- Long-sleeved shirt – Choose an older, long-sleeved shirt that you don’t mind getting dirty.
- Rubber gloves – Leaves in your eavestrough have probably been sitting in the gutter for months, so heavy-duty rubber gloves are recommended for the job.
- Bucket or tarp – Have a bucket with you or spread a tarp on the ground below your work area in order to catch the falling debris. You can actually reuse the wet leaves and debris as excellent mulch in your gardens later.
- Gutter scoop – You can buy a gutter scoop from your local hardware store to clean out your eavestrough, or just use a children’s plastic shovel. Either one will works as long as it’s small enough to fit deep into your gutter.
There are a few more things you should consider buying to maintain your gutter as well:
- Gutter spikes – The spikes that run through your eavestrough commonly fall out destabilizing the system. You’ll probably need at a few to replace them.
- Bead silicon sealing – Water leaks in your gutter can damage your home. You’ll need to plug them with a sealant.
- Rivets and a rivet gun – The rivets in your downspout may have come loose or fallen out, and need to be replaced.
Cleaning your eavestrough
Now that you have everything you need, the cleaning part is actually fairly simple. Have a helper with you to stabilize your ladder and pass you equipment as needed.
Start at one end of the eavestrough and scoop everything out into the bucket. If you move systematically, you’ll be rid of the larger pieces of debris in no time.
Pay particular attention to the downspout – the part that takes rainwater all the way to the ground. If this is blocked, even a clean eavestrough can overflow, pouring water over the side and damaging your house. Make sure that all of the leaves and debris are cleared out of your downspout.
Once you’ve finished cleaning the large chunks of debris from your eavestrough, have your helper pass you a hose and turn the water on. By running water all the way through your eavestrough, you can remove the tiny pieces left behind. This is also a great way to detect any leaks in the eavestrough, which you should patch up next.
Repairing your eavestrough
Once you’ve finished cleaning your eavestrough out, you’ll want to repair the places that have become damaged over the years. The first thing to do is look for holes and cracked caulking along the seams. Bead silicon sealing is the latest technology in sealing cracks, but it will only work if you apply it onto a dry gutter. Remove any cracked caulking from the seams and dry the area around holes and cracked seams. Once you’ve prepped the area, just apply the bead silicon sealing and you’re all set. Your gutter is safe from leaks for another year.
Also during this inspection, check the rivets on the downspout. Frequently they’ll come loose or will have dropped out completely. If your downspout is missing rivets, you will need to replace them using the rivet gun.
Another common problem is the eavestrough spikes breaking loose over the years. If this is happening, you face the risk of your eavestrough system falling off the side of your house entirely. Invest in some new eavestrough spikes. It should be easy enough to drive them back through the same holes that the old spikes occupied.
If you are feeling particularly ambitious, you can rent a pressure washer to fit onto the end of your hose. This will blast off dirt that has accumulated over the years making your eavestrough look like new.
This may have been a dirty job if it’s been awhile since your eavestrough was properly cleaned out, but you can take heart that it will be an easier job next year.