Gutter maintenance and repair

By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Home & Garden - posted Wed., Apr. 11, 2012
- Contributed Photo

It’s spring: Time to put a ladder against the side of the house or the roof, and check your gutters.

Take an empty bucket, a long broom handle with a rag on the end, a garden hose, a good pair of gloves and a garden trowel. Scoop debris out with the trowel into the bucket. Use the mop handle to move debris on either side of your ladder.

Drainpipes may back up with the same debris. Use the garden hose to force water down into the elbow of the drainpipe. It should create enough force to flush out any blockage.

Be sure you have a splash block at the bottom of the drainpipes to carry the water away from the foundation of your house. Check the flow of water to see how quickly it gets to the drainpipe, and moves away from the splash block without creating a giant puddle.
Once you are satisfied that the gutters and drainpipes are free of obstruction, survey the entire system for leaks, damage and correct water flow. Gutters and the associated pipes are mostly made of aluminum or vinyl, but some homes have copper or steel gutters.

Where you see more than just a little standing water, it’s a sure sign the pitch of the gutter has been disrupted. This might mean the devices from which the gutters are suspended have come loose. These hangers are usually straps that attach under the roof shingles or brackets or spike-and-ferrule combinations that fasten just under the roof’s edge. Be sure there is a pitch toward the nearest drainpipe of at least ¼ inch for every five feet of gutter.

Leaks in the joints will be obvious when you have used a hose to flush the system. Droplets appear at the offending locations. Some joints are fastened with a pressure seal; others are held fast with pop-rivets.  If the joint has not been caulked inside, or if it looks particularly bad, scrape off any old caulk, and reseal with butyl caulk or another made for your type of gutter.

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