As leaves and pine straw are blown from trees this fall, they are starting to clog gutters and downspouts, which should be cleaned out three or four times a year, according to an online source.
"Proper maintenance and cleaning of your home's gutters and downspouts is about more than keeping the exterior of your home looking nice," writes Susan M. Keenan on doityourself.com. "It may prevent damage to your home's interior due to flooding through the foundation and walls, or leaks in the roof due to seepage of water."
Staffers at Enon Hopkins Roofing and Construction Co. recommend checking gutters and downspouts a minimum of twice a year to see if any repairs need to be made. Salesman Larry Gilpin Sr. said the best times to do this are in the spring and fall.
"How often you clean your gutters is going to depend on how many trees you have," said Gilpin. "I've got a lot of trees in my yard, so I clean out my gutters four to five times a year."
Doityourself.com offers a few simple steps to cleaning the gutters and downspouts. Among them are to begin the cleaning at the part of the gutter closest to the downspout.
"Use a garden trowel or hand spade to scoop out the debris," writes Kennan on the Web site. "Place it into a bucket or trash bag. If any pieces resist being scooped up, remove them carefully by hand. If you are planning of disposing of the debris in your compost pile, then you need to have a separate trash receptacle for metal objects, such as roofing nails."
Gilpin also suggests using a blower to clean gutters. But the best way to clean them, he said, is to climb onto the roof and use a gutter scoop to clean out all of the debris that has fallen in there and begun to decay.
"The gutter scoop gets down into the gutter and is able to get out a lot of the debris that has turned to dirt," he said. "Sometimes, a hose or blower can't get all of that out."
Once the debris has been removed, use a garden hose to rinse the gutter in the direction of the downspout, using a spray attachment on the hose. Spray the gutter until no signs of debris remain.
After the gutters and downspouts have been cleaned, it would be a good time to look for any signs of damage, such as cracks, holes or dents. If any roof damage is found, repair it as soon as possible.
Neglect of the gutters and downspout could cause some serious damage in the long run. Gilpin said cleaning out gutters several times a year can help to prevent any wood rot.
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