September 25th, 2012
Now that we’ve passed the Autumnal Equinox, it’s time to start thinking about preparing you home for the winter. We’re going to post a four part series focusing on:
You might think you should wait to clean your gutters until after all of the leaves have fallen. However, you’re better off cleaning them a few times during the autumn season to prevent major blockages in the downspouts, as well as ensuring that there is no damage to the gutters caused by falling branches.
You should be able to use a good ladder for single story, but you’ll need a really tall ladder and a good friend to spot you if you’re going up higher than that. When you’re up on the roof, look for loose shingles, and look for cracks in the masonry around your fireplace.
As you’re cleaning, look for cracks and rust in the gutters that should be repaired or even replaced.
Finally use a hose to clear debris from the downspouts. To make maintenance faster and easier, consider investing in leaf guards for your gutters to reduce the leaves that get stuck.
Lowe’s has a wonderful article here with graphics to show you where to look for rust points. Their advice for cleaning gutters is:
You may encounter stubborn, caked buildups. If so, they may be more easily removed a little while after a rain when they are damp instead of dry and hard. Of course, you can always create your own rain with a water hose, but resist the urge to clean your gutters with water pressure. It seems like it would be so easy, but you might pack debris tightly into the downspouts, and dirty water might splash all over your house.
Inspect your gutters as you clean. Look for corrosion, holes, leaking joints or loose, missing or bent hangers. Mark problem areas with masking tape so you can find the problem spots quickly when you are ready to do the repairs.
Wear gloves to protect yourself from scratches, and have handy a garden trowel or gutter scoop, a whisk broom and a rag. Put your tools in a bucket with a handle. The bucket should be fastened to your ladder with a wire hook. This will prevent you from having to juggle a lot of tools while climbing or descending the ladder. It will also remove the temptation of stuffing tools into your pockets – a hazard if you should happen to fall.
It is a good idea to flush your gutters with a garden hose after you have cleaned them. This will show how well the gutters are draining and will indicate any areas that are holding standing water, which contributes to many gutter problems.
The article further discusses what to use to repair your gutters and prevent damage from leaves and branches.
Take some time on a clear, sunny day to walk around your home looking carefully around the edges.
. Rake away all debris and edible vegetation from the foundation.
. Seal up entry points to keep small animals from crawling under the house.
. Tuckpoint or seal foundation cracks. Mice can slip through space as thin as a dime.
. Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation.
. Secure crawlspace entrances.
Steel wool is highly recommended for plugging up holes against rats
You’ve paid a lot of money for your home, and doing the right things at the right time will protect that investment for years to come.