Gutters play an essential role in protecting your home's foundation by directing rainwater away from the foundation walls. If your gutters are clogged or leaking, static pressure from ground water can eventually cause your foundation walls to leak and crumble. Here are three ways you can maintain and repair your gutters to keep them in good shape year-round.
Unclog Gutters and Downspouts
One of the most common problems that gutters face is clogging with leaves, sticks, and other debris. The only way to resolve a major gutter clog is to climb a ladder and manually remove it. This can be done using a small garden trowel to scoop out the debris. You can scoop the debris into a plastic bucket to use as compost for your garden. It is usually easiest to do this a few hours after it has rained, when the debris is not too soggy and not too dry and brittle.
After you have scooped out as much of the clog as possible, use a garden hose with a high-pressure attachment to remove all remaining debris. Spray toward your gutter downspouts, and then use the hose to flush the downspouts. If the downspouts still aren't draining when you flush them with a hose, stand at the bottom of the downspouts and use a plumber's auger to manually remove the clog.
Seal Leaky Seams
No matter how well you have cleaned out your gutters, they will not be able to do their job correctly if they are leaking water. In addition to letting water build up around your foundation, leaks can redirect water onto the side of your home, leading to mildew and severe water damage over time.
Leaks most commonly develop in the seams between two segments of gutters when old caulking begins to crack and flake away. To repair these leaks, wait until the gutters are completely dry and use a chisel to scrape away the old caulk. Push the gutter segments together so that there is no gap and apply a new bead of silicone caulk.
Occasionally, you may find puncture holes in your gutters from tree branches that are causing leaks. Rather than replacing the gutter segment that is damaged, it is often easier and more affordable to patch the hole with flashing. First, scrub the area around the hole with a wire brush and then wipe it with a cloth. Cut a piece of flashing so that it is slightly larger than the hole. Spread roofing cement on the back of the flashing with a cement trowel and press it firmly over the hole, and then use the trowel to wipe away any cement that leaks around the sides of the flashing.
Upgrade to Aluminum or Vinyl Gutters
If rust and corrosion are attacking your gutters, they will eventually develop leaks that are not repairable, or in the worst case may fall off of your house. If your gutters have a problem with rust, they are likely the older, sheet-metal type. Newer gutters are made from aluminum or vinyl and are not susceptible to rust.
Before rust builds up to the point that it is threatening the structural integrity of your gutters, it is a good idea to replace them with a new set. While you can have a roofing repair professional install your new gutters for you, it is also entirely possible to complete the project yourself.
While they are easy to overlook, gutters are one of the most important parts of your home to repair and maintain. Use these tips to keep your gutters healthy and avoid expensive foundation repairs in the future.