Tips for Keeping Your Gutter Clean

How frustrating when the rain runs overtop your gutters, making it impossible to dash to your car in a heavy downpour without getting soaked! We are here to help you solve your gutter problems.

Often the gutter is plugged with leaves and debris. In rare cases, the gutter may have been installed incorrectly, allowing the water to run overtop the gutter.

What are the options for fixing your gutter dilemma? First of all, you could install a leaf guard to keep the leaves and debris from accumulating in the gutter. Secondly, you could hire someone to come a couple times a year to clean the gutters out for you. If you have a two-story house, cleaning the gutters may be difficult. We have the equipment. Let us or another professional do it for you. Or, do you prefer to “do it yourself”? You are welcome to clean your own gutters if you can find the time to get it done!

Below are several tips for keeping your gutters clean.

    Eliminate ladders if you can. Your local home improvement store sells handy sprayers and tools that can be used to clean out gutters. Some of these tools connect to your garden hose or pressure washer and, if the water pressure is good, will spray the leaves and debris out of your gutter. You can buy attachments for your leaf blower that will enable you to blow the leaves out. Grapples on long poles are also available so you can reach up and remove debris.

    Step 1: Use Ladder Precautions. Watch for electric lines! Make sure your ladder is sitting on solid, level ground before climbing. Tie the top fast before you start cleaning out the gutter because ladders can easily slide on the slick aluminum. Keep your hips between the ladder rails and do not lean out the sides or your ladder could fall over. Never stand on the top two rungs of the ladder. Your safety is important to us!

    Step 2: Clean out the gutter. Use a small shovel or scoop to clean the leaves and junk out of the gutter. If you can manage to carry a bucket with you, place debris in the bucket to save yourself the work of cleaning the junk out of the flowerbeds afterwards.

    Step 3: Hose out the gutter. Attach a high pressure nozzle to your garden hose and spray out the gutter to remove all the fine dirt that you weren’t able to clean out with a shovel. Spray carefully so you do not cover yourself or your home with the dirt you are rinsing out of the gutter! You may need a brush to scrub off the dirt that is caked fast.

    Step 4: Clean out the downspouts when necessary. Sometimes the downspouts become clogged with debris. Typically this happens at the elbows right below the gutter. If your downspouts discharge into drainage pipes below the ground, pull them out of the ground before unclogging them. This prevents the debris from going into the ground and plugging the pipes at a worse place. A plumber’s auger (snake) works well for cleaning out the downspouts.

    If they are clogged at the top, you can also straighten a metal clothes hanger and poke it down from the top to loosen the debris. To test your work, spray the garden hose at the top of the downspout. If the water flows easily, you can be sure it is cleaned out. If the pipes are plugged underground, you may need to hire a professional to use a good ‘snake’ to clean out the drain pipes. Thankfully the issue is usually in the downspouts, making the job much easier.

    Step 5: Repeat as necessary. Usually cleaning out the gutters and downspouts two times a year keeps them in good working condition. If you have a lot of tall trees close to the house, you may need to clean them out more often so you can stay ahead of leaf accumulation in the gutters.

    Step 6: Enjoy the rain. Now you can sit on your front porch and watch the beauty of the thunderstorm like you used to when you were little. Enjoy the pounding rain, and hopefully the storm ends with a colorful rainbow to remind you of God’s promise to the world.

Maintenance Tips for Your Seamless Gutters

If your seamless gutters were installed by a quality professional, they should not need much maintenance. Here are a couple things that you should watch for to save time and money in the long run.

    Make sure the water is draining away from the house. Newer homes have downspout drain lines that are buried underground to carry the water away from your home. Either the water runs into a storm sewer, a creek, or simply drains away from your house. Older homes often do not have drain pipes underground; instead the downspouts dump the water out on the ground. In these scenarios, make sure that the water drains away from the house instead of pouring into flowerbeds or worse, seeping into your basement.

    There are various extenders available that can be attached to your downspouts to help spread the water over a larger surface area or direct it away from the house. You can buy downspout extenders from your local hardware or home improvement store. It is crucial for the water to be safely directed away from the house so it does not destroy your home or property.

    Keep your gutters and downspouts cleaned out. We explained how to keep your gutters clean in the section above “Tips for Keeping Your Gutter Cleaned Out.” Full gutters are useless gutters, so do what it takes to keep them junk free!

    Make sure the gutters stay securely fastened to the house. If a professional installed your gutters, you shouldn’t have any issues with the gutters coming loose or falling down. On some gutter systems, the gutters were installed with long nails. Over time those nails can work loose and eventually your gutter will fall. If you are a handy man, use a ladder and hammer to pound those nails back in and secure your gutter again. Eventually the nail holes will become loose and pounding the nails back in the same spot will not fix the problem. Either you will need to pound them in at a different place on the facial board or purchase new gutters. If you see any part of your gutter coming loose, it is wise to repair it immediately before the issue becomes bigger. As the old saying goes, “A stitch in time saves nine.”

    Check to be sure your gutters are sloped the right direction. . This is another issue that will not occur with a quality installation. But some older homes have cheap gutters that slope the wrong direction over time. Or if the installer did a poor job, the gutters may have been installed at an incorrect angle. If you enjoy fix-it projects, you may be able to correct the problem yourself. However, a professional gutter contractor would be happy to fix the problem for you so that your gutter performs effectively.

    Watch for deterioration on the facia board. . If the edge of your roof is not flashed correctly or if the facia boards are wooden, they can eventually start to rot and your gutters will come loose. If this happens, hire a contractor to replace the facia board and either reinstall the old gutter or install a new one.

History of Rain Gutters

In the early 1900’s, metal rolling machines became popular in the United States. They bent steel into a half circle that was then installed on your home to catch the rain and funnel it through the downspout. Since the rolling machines were narrow, they could only roll short sections of gutter. These sections were pieced together. Hence we have sectional gutters, short sections pieced together to make a gutter.

In the 1960’s, manufacturers learned how to form longer sections of aluminum, but hauling restrictions prohibit transportation of 50-100’ long sections. Instead you can go to your local lumber yard and buy sections of gutter of various lengths and piece them together. Put end caps or corners on them and you have a gutter for your home. The advantage of sectional gutters is that no expensive equipment or tools are needed. The downside is that anybody with a couple tools can make a gutter for you without having the experience to make sure it is completed correctly. There are quality contractors that install sectional gutters well and do a good job of overlapping the sections and caulking them, but anywhere you have a seam, you have potential for a leak.

We can install seamless gutters for a price that is comparable to the cost of sectional gutters. Why not get a quote today for installing seamless gutters on your home?

What Are Seamless Gutters?

Seamless gutters were invented in the early 1960’s, enabling manufacturers to fabricate aluminum gutters in a more efficient way. But it wasn’t until the 1970’s, when portable seamless gutter machines were introduced, that contractors could custom build gutters onsite. A contractor starts by feeding a coil of aluminum into a machine that bends the metal into the shape of a rain gutter. Once the contractor has made a piece that is the right length for your house, he installs end caps or corners on it. He cuts the drops for the downspouts so they are ready for installation as soon as the gutter is up. Then he uses special gutter hangers that clip onto the gutter and screw into the facia board right below the shingles. After installing the downspouts, your new gutter is ready for the next rainstorm. Technically, these gutters do have seams at the ends of the gutter, but the seamless name comes from the ability to make the gutter as long as you need it instead of piecing multiple sections of gutter together to create the size you need.

Are Plastic Gutters Any Good?

A third option that some people try is plastic gutters. Many local hardware stores and lumber yards carry what looks like a cheap way to install rain gutters on your home. Plastic gutters come in sections. You screw end caps and corners on them to create your own gutter. The problem is that plastic expands and contracts more than aluminum. With the movement from expansion and contraction, you have a continual push and pull against the caulk and screws, weakening them. Before long your gutter is dripping water out the bottom instead of pouring it through the downspout. So, yes, they may be cheaper in the beginning, but long term they create more frustration for you. Save yourself the headache and call about our seamless gutters today!

What is the benefit of leaf proof gutters?

We all know how frustrating it is to have it pouring down rain, but the gutters aren't doing any good because the water is running right over them. Usually it is because the downspouts are clogged making the water splash into your beautiful flowerbeds. At Flo-Rite Gutters we are pleased to provide leaf protection to help keep your gutters clean all the time. They help to keep the leaves and sticks out of your gutters and keep your gutters open for the water to run through. The other benefit is that you don't have leaves going down your downspouts and clogging the pipes up underground or adding extra compost in the storm sewer.

Some people just recommend that you keep your gutters cleaned out periodically. That is a good idea, but does have negatives. If you are an older person or physically challenged it is next to impossible for you to do it. Even if you are in good physical health, it isn't necessarily a good idea to be walking around on the roof and leaning over the edge to clean out your gutters. You can buy special poles with brushes on the end or special blowers to clean the debris out of your gutters, but if you have a second story home, it is difficult to do it. And lastly it takes time to keep your gutters cleaned out, and usually we forget about it until it is pouring down rain.

Which type of leaf protection should I use?

The least expensive option is to go to any hardware store or Home Depot and buy the little mesh "plugs" that you can push into to the top of the downspouts. They help to keep the leaves from going down the downspouts, which is good, but they easily clog over when you have a bunch of leaves and shingle stones in your gutter. While they do provide a little protection, they aren't good enough for people that have a lot of trees around their house.

Another option is to fill the gutter with bottle brush "guards", or a foam style gutter filler. These are fairly cheap to install, but they can pose a problem if you get tree seeds in them as they don't keep the gutter completely cleared out, and you might have trees growing in your gutter. So while they can work fairly well, they aren't a good long term solution to your leaf problem.

Lastly you can have a contractor install a gutter cover for you. There are a lot of different options here as well. They are all made to completely cover the top of your gutter. Some are flat on top of the gutter while other ones clip on the front of the gutter and then slide up under the shingles creating a slope that helps the leaves blow off. There are also different levels of protection here as well. We handle 3 different kinds: Leaf Proof, Leaf Exterminator, and Speed Screen that make up 3 different price levels, and 3 different styles. The Leaf Proof is completely covered over with aluminum, but uses the waterfall effect to direct the water into the gutter instead of running over the edge. The Leaf Exterminator consists of aluminum panels that have a bunch of small holes in to let the water run into the gutter. Lastly we have the Speed Screen, which is just a screen that clips in the front of the gutter and up under the shingles. It keeps the big debris out and is cheaper to install.

So the question is up to you. How bad of a leaf problem do you have? How much are you willing to spend to keep the leaves out? As we have discussed there are a lot of different options, all of which provide at least some level of protection, but in the end you do get what you pay for.