Gutter Cleaning

Spring rains in the South make it imperative your gutters are clean and functioning for proper home maintenance. Here are just a few steps to follow in order to maintain gutters yourself. First, climb a ladder and clean the goop out of the gutters. The decomposed leaves make great mulch or compost. Pay particular attention to the downspout. If leaves and debris are clogging it, water won't drain properly, and along with mildew and mud you'll end up with sagging gutters.

 Next, check all the spikes that are supposed to go through the gutter, through the fascia board and into the rafter behind it. At most homes, these spikes miss the rafters entirely, usually because the spike has just worked its way out of the hole over the years.

Another thing you want to look at are the sources of any leaks, including holes in the gutters and cracked caulking in the seams. Use an old chisel to scrape the old caulking out and dry the area thoroughly. Then use new bead silicon sealing to keep water from getting down behind the gutters and rotting the boards.

Once you've finished with the mechanics, you can attend to cleaning the gutters. The best way is with a pressure washer, which you can rent or even purchase for anywhere from $60 to hundreds of dollars. Follow the instructions that come with the washer to the letter; usually the washer can be used with garden-hose water or some type of cleaner.

 A pressure washer won't hurt the gutters provided you've secured the gutters with screws or new spikes. The real key is to avoid hitting the gutters at too high an angle or you'll blow the shingles off with a high-pressure stream of water.

 If the gutters are rusting, they are very old. They've moved to aluminum and vinyl gutters now, and they don't rust. You might want to consider new gutters. But if you're going to stay with the old ones, get all the rust off, sand them down, paint them with a good primer and then with a good-quality rust-inhibiting paint.

 A splash block is a very important element. It keeps the water coming out of the downspouts from digging a trench next to the house, and it keeps water away from the home's foundation.

Good luck, and remember DogGone Handy is always standing by to help with these jobs that you may not have the time or stomach to tackle yourself!

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