If your home is in close proximity to trees, parks or undeveloped lots, it is a good idea to check your gutters regularly. I know that this should go without saying, but who actually does this once or even twice a year? It can sometimes take little more than a few months to have full gutters and when only the smallest amount of leaf debris can create serious issues, it is always best to prevent these from ever occurring.
What to look for to prevent roof leaks?
Cracked Ridge Capping or Ridge Pointing
The best way to clean your gutters is from the highest point down. This starts from the ridge capping which should first be inspected for cracked pointing along the seams or loose ridge caps. The ridge capping becoming cracked or loose is an easy indicator that water can infiltrate the ceiling space.
Full Valley Trays, Rust Spots or Flat Tray Edges
The valley trays should be cleaned out of any leaf litter or rubbish to ensure a clear path for water flowing down to the gutters. If you are able, remove tiles either side of the trays to check if any debris is in the tray under the tiles which is almost always the case. The tray should be free of any signs of rust, pin holes from nails and the lip edges on either side of the tray should stand up without any flattened areas down the entire length. The bottom third of the valley tray is the most common section to experience leak issues and this is because it tends to collect the most debris.
Full Gutters, Rust, Sealed Joints and Downpipe Entries
Next in the line is the guttering and this should be cleaned out by hand as much as possible. A stiff brush is good to use when going around the gutter line as this helps to sweep any residual dirt or grime that can stick to the bottom and create leaf traps, preventing water flow. Check any clips holding the gutter up are attached properly and not rusted. The downpipe entry ways at the back of the gutter should be checked to ensure the height at the back of the gutter is continuous and the silicone seal is intact, as well as the silicone seals wherever there is a join in the gutter sections.
Blocked, Rusted or Unsealed Downpipes
Finally, the downpipes should be checked to ensure they are not rusted inside the ceiling where they bend to change direction inside the eave linings. This can be seen from on the roof by removing tiles above the downpipe (a bit harder if you have tin sheeting), viewed from below if you have exposed eaves or noticeable if there is staining directly above the downpipe on the eave sheeting. It is possible to remove the clips on some downpipes and slide them apart to allow any leaf debris to be dislodged but not in all cases. Some people also run the hose down them or some other flexible material to push the dirt down.
What about gutter guards?
What about putting some gutter guards up you may ask? Well in my experience they require just as much maintenance, if not more. If you decide that you would like that option, I would advise you to get the soft flexible plastic ones that can be easily removed as every fixed guard I have seen has had dirt or fine leaves underneath. They will all need to be removed before anything can be done and this can be very costly.
Who should I get to clean my gutters?
The best option is to regularly maintain your gutters or if you are unable, then pay someone who can and will do it properly. It is a small price to pay to protect such a valuable asset!
Related Tags: Roof Repair Perth