Fall is the time to clean out gutters

By
Home Inspector with National Property Inspections

NPI professionals assess hundreds of components of a home or business during an inspection and are often asked some general questions. One is, "How often should I clean out my gutters?" which seems an appropriate one to address this time of year.

Gutters should be kept free of plant material, dirt and debris at all times to allow water to travel freely to the downspouts and splash guards. How often you will have to remove debris to keep the channel open depends on nearby vegetation, including trees, and the time of year. Some gutters may only need attention once or twice a year while others require it more frequently. Many people find it useful to clean out gutters in the spring and fall.

The purpose of gutters, downspouts and splashguards is to direct water away from the exterior of the home, preventing damage to walls, foundations and landscape materials. All parts of this system should be maintained in good condition to protect the exterior of the home. That means checking for damage or leaks along the gutters. Leaks are most common at seams, elbows and corners.

Inspecting and cleaning gutters will probably require the use of a ladder. As a general rule, an extension ladder should always extend at least three feet above whatever the top of the ladder is braced against (usually the roof of the house). The bottom of the ladder should be moved one foot away from the structure for every four feet of vertical height necessary.  It is important to read the manufacturer’s directions prior to use for other ladder safety information. Inspect the ladder itself prior to use to ensure it is in good condition before climbing.

You will want gloves and some type of bag or bucket to put debris like leaves and sticks in. It is also helpful to have an assistant to help with ladder placement, retreiving new bags, etc. Clean all debris out of the gutters, including dirt. After the gutters are clean, use a hose or bucket to pour water in the gutter. Make sure the water moves freely through the gutters and downspounts and is deposited away from the foundation of the home. Watch for leaks.

Gutters, downspouts and splash guards are just a few of the hundreds components of a home inspected by National Property Inspections. A general property inspection gives you information on the condition of all major home systems to help you plan for future maintenance and care. 

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