It’s hard to believe that autumn has arrived. Especially when the Lower Mainland is forecast for sunny skies and 20°C for the first few days of October. Regardless, the leaves are turning and we can only expect the clear blue canopy above to disappear soon enough. The rain will come, the winds will blow, and frost will coat your backyard and home. Before this all occurs, you will want to make the necessary preparations to protect your household’s exterior and foundation. And this begins with your gutters.
5 Tips to Preparing Your Gutters for Autumn
1. Give Them a Thorough Flushing
Before you tuck your garden hose into the shed for the season give your gutters a good hosing. Pick a warm and dry day (this coming week/weekend in Vancouver is perfect) for your own comfort and safety, and climb up a sturdy ladder. Have your helper turn on the hose full blast (both of you should wear protective goggles) and flush out your gutters. Then, point the hose into your downspouts (from above) and flush them out too. Descend and promptly remove any debris that has run down and built-up at the expelling end of your downspouts. One note of caution – don’t pressure wash them, as this can cause damage to less sturdy gutters and downspouts.
2. Wipe Them Down with a Household Cleaning Solution
You will want to wipe down your gutters as soon as you have flushed them out. Smaller bits of dirt, grime, and debris will remain and can become an adhesive to blowing leaves. The only cleaning solution that you need is a warm bucket of water mixed with liquid dish soap. Climb up (again) and give your gutters a thorough wipe-down until they gleam.
3. Inspect Them for Leaks, Cracks, and Corrosion
Now that your gutters have been fully cleaned you’ll be able to inspect them for damage. Using your careful eye and running your fingers along the surface you’ll be able to detect cracks and corrosion. If you note an abrasion but are unsure if it leaks pour water gently into the suspected zone to see if the section leaks. If small leaks are evident, purchase a gutter sealant (example here) and follow the instructions provided. Typically, all that will be required is a dab of cementing sealant, smoothed out along the edges with a putty knife. If there is a significant crack, you will need cover it with either vinyl or aluminum flashing (depending upon your gutters) which will act as a bandage, of sorts. Cut a strip of the appropriate length, lay it across the crack, and apply the sealant to the under edges of the flashing. Smooth out the sealant on the edges and allow adequate time to dry before performing the leak test again. If you notice significant rust/corrosion then you may have to replace the entire infected section of your gutters. Before making any rash decisions, have your damaged gutters professionally inspected first.
4. Check for Loose and Shifting Brackets
Once your gutters are in the clear from leaks, cracks, and corrosion you can check their stability. Move from section to section along your gutter system (downspouts included) and give each length a gentle pull. If it wiggles, you need to check your brackets/hangers. Sometimes all it will take to fix a shifting bracket is a tightening of the screws. However, if you notice that they are bent and/or screws are stripped, you will need to replace them immediately.
If your gutters shift but there are no visible issues with the brackets/hangers/screws then your fascia board may be the problem. If so, remove the section of gutter covering the fascia board, separate from the roof top (wedge a wooden block in between), measure then cut away a block of the damaged area, and replace. Here is a great step by step guide on how to replace a section of your fascia board.
5. Install Gutter Guards to Keep Leaves and Debris Away
With your gutters free of debris, repaired, and given a clean bill of health you can now take the next and final step to protect the system from autumn. Install custom fit gutter guards. Gutter guards add a layer of protection to your system, preventing everything from leaves, pine needles, rodents, and birds from getting in during the season.
In conclusion, your best bet to preparing your gutters for the fall is to bring in a professional gutter repair specialist. Contact us to book an appointment and receive a comprehensive inspection for your home’s gutter system.