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How to Troubleshoot Clogged Gutters

How to Troubleshoot Clogged Gutters

Gutters are key to any home; they protect it from water damage and direct water away from the house. But if they’re clogged, you’ll rapidly find that they cause problems ranging from dirty siding to cracks in the foundation, in addition to causing damage to your gutter system. So, how to know where the problem lies?

Signs Of Clogged Gutters

Keep an eye out for any of the following:
• Water flowing over the sides during rainfall or cleaning
• Gutter damage, such as sagging or pulling away from the wall
• Excessive leaf matter and other material visible from the ground
• Signs of animal life living in your gutter
• Bad smells or discolored water in your downspout flow
• Limited water flow out of your downspout
• Icicles hanging off your gutters

If you see any one of these, it’s time to get the ladder out and take a look at what’s going on.

Locating Clogged Gutters

First, make sure your ladder is secured to the ground and stable before climbing. Be very careful; ladder falls are one of the most dangerous home accidents.

Once you’re up there, look for the clog. Clogs can be located in either in the gutters themselves or found in your downspout. Generally, they’ll be fairly simple to spot, as they’re generally collections of plant matter and other material that will stand out against the color of the metal. Remember, they may not be a huge clump, but a series of smaller collections of matter.

If you’ve looked around and don’t see anything clogging your gutters, then it’s likely in your downspout. If possible, run some water down your downspout and see if it flows out.

Removing Clogs in Your Gutters

Removing clogs in your gutter is as simple as pulling on the gloves and mucking them out. You might consider using a scrub tool to get the more stubborn matter cleaned out of your gutters. Don’t be shy about getting everything out of there: Today’s leaf is the start of tomorrow’s clog.

The good news is that if there’s a downspout clog, you don’t have to try and clean it out from the top of a ladder. If you look closely, your downspout will likely be secured to your gutter with a few screws. Carefully remove those screws and bring your downspout down: You’ll be able to take it apart piece by piece and remove any clogs.

Preventing Clogged Gutters

There are two ways to prevent clogs. The first is simply to get up the ladder every six months or so and clean out your gutters. True, it’s not a lot of fun, but it saves you money (and damage to your home) in the long run.

Secondly, you can install gutter covers, such as the Gutter Helmet. Look for covers designed to collect leaves and other debris while letting water flow through freely. This method not only helps keep your gutters clear and prevents clogs from forming, it means less time on the ladder: Many homeowners can clean their gutters from the ground with a hose.

Regardless of your strategy, just be sure to remove the clogs: Otherwise, you’ll find you’re spending a lot more on repairs to your home.

Photo Credit: Lauren Finkel Photography