It's important to perform periodic gutter maintenance on your gutter system to keep it working smoothly. Clogged or damaged gutters offer little aid for channeling roof water away from a home, and they can lead to water damage to the fascia boards, the attic area and even your basement. Non-working gutters also can lead to erosion around the home's foundation.
Gutter maintenance should be done at least twice a year. I recommend inspecting and cleaning your gutters in the spring and late fall at a minimum. If windstorms and other weather conditions occur or if there are trees near your home, then I suggest performing gutter maintenance even more regularly. Leaves, pine needles and twigs can clog gutters. Also, if you observe poor water flow through the downspouts or water pouring over the sides of the gutters, it's a sure sign that you need to do some gutter maintenance.
As part of any gutter maintenance project, in addition to cleaning them out, it is important to inspect them for any holes, cracks or loose mounting brackets that may have pulled away from the fascia board. Check the nails and screws that are holding the mounting brackets to the fascia boards to make sure they aren't sticking out. Replace any damaged gutters if they are unrepairable. Also, check for any mold or mildew growth on the fascia boards. If you see any, it's important to remove it. In some cases, there is little choice but to remove the gutters temporarily to clean and repair any damage to the fascia boards.
To check the downspouts, use a garden hose to spray water from the top of the gutter. In some cases, it is necessary to use a wire brush to push through or pull out any debris clogged in the downspout. You may have to disconnect the downspout from the gutter if a clog is particularly difficult to remove.
When performing gutter maintenance, make sure you use a quality ladder that is well-positioned on the ground, and wear gloves and eye protection.
To reduce the frequency of gutter maintenance, you may want to consider installing a gutter guard over the top of the gutters. Gutter guards prevent the infiltration of leaf and twig debris into the gutters. That said, gutter guards are not foolproof, so you still should inspect your gutters a couple of times a year. Leaf debris that breaks down can eventually work its way through the gutter screens and into the gutters themselves.
Most gutter guards are very easy to install and are reasonably priced, so it may be worth investing a little time and money into them to save yourself a lot of time down the road in gutter maintenance.
Mark J. Donovan's website is http://www.HomeAdditionPlus.com.