As the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” If that is true, then April is a perfect time to make sure your rain gutters are in good shape.
Since your gutters are installed along the roofline, you might be tempted to believe that their purposes are above the ground. In truth, gutters primarily serve to protect your home’s foundation, by routing rainwater first to the corners of your home, then to the ground, then ultimately away from the building. Water that pools along a foundation can lead to many problems in a home, including foundation cracks and increased moisture in basements and crawlspaces (which could lead to mold and mildew). Ensuring the proper function of rain gutters is a simple maintenance task that can help save your home from much more severe issues.
Here’s a few steps you can take to ensure your home’s rain gutters are ready for the Spring rains.
1. Visually inspect all the gutters. Even from the ground looking up, you may be able to see any glaring issues such as gutters that are separating from the facia or cracking. If you are able, look to ensure that roofing shingles actually extend past the back edge of the gutter so water will not run back between the gutter and facia, leading to rot.
2. Clean out leaves and debris. SAFETY ALERT: Always use common sense and a helper when using a ladder. The most common culprit for clogged gutters is leaves that collect at the downspout. For many one story homes, you can get attachments to wet-dry vacuums or leaf blowers that can assist in clearing material from the gutters. If you have to go up a ladder, take along a bucket to put leaves in. After all the big debris is cleared, you can also carry a hose up to flush out any rocks or material that have come off of your shingles.
3. Direct water away from your foundation. There are several types of downspout extenders that can be used to ensure that water does not pool up at the bottom of the downspout. Make sure extensions are secured to the downspout (if not, and the extension becomes dislodged, it’s ineffective at moving water away from the house.)
4. Don’t forget your rain barrel overflow! If you have a rain barrel it probably has an overflow hose that is used to either feed another barrel, or allow water to spill out in a controlled manner. Be sure to extend this overflow hose is not kinked, and runs away from the building so that water will move away from the barrel during a heavy rain.
Cleaning your gutters shouldn’t take more than an hour, and will help prepare your home for the April rains ahead. And if you’d rather bring in the pros, you can certainly look for a local handyman or landscape company that can do the task for you.
As a side note, keeping your gutters clean during the winter is also important. When snow melts on your roof and has nowhere to go it creates an ice dam.