When fall arrives, it’s time to prepare for the stormy, rainy, snowy winter months ahead. Among your top priorities should be gutter cleaning and repair. Here are some ways to keep your roof draining and the water flowing freely all winter long.
1. Clean leaves and other debris out of the gutters.
- An old plastic spatula makes a great tool for cleaning debris from gutters. It doesn’t scratch up the gutter, and you can cut it with snips to fit gutter contours. Grime wipes right off the spatula too, making cleanup a breeze.
- Your plumber’s snake is a great tool for pulling clumps of wet leaves out of clogged downspouts.
2. Repair sagging metal gutters by mounting a gutter hanger.
- Hook the hanger under the front edge and over the back edge of the gutter.
- Then drive the hex head screw through the wood trim behind the gutter.
- The hangers will be stronger if you screw them into a rafter.
- Look for nailheads, which indicate rafter locations.
- Add new hangers about every 3 ft. along the entire length of the gutters, if the old ones have let go.
- Another style of gutter hanger slides under the shingles and is nailed to the roof boards. If you use this type, be sure the shingles are flexible enough to be lifted without breaking.
3. Seal leaking end caps.
- Even if you have seamless gutters, there’s going to come a time when the end caps leak. If that time has arrived, seal the leaks.
- Scour off oxidation around the seam or end cap with a scrub brush or coarse steel wool.
- Rinse with water and let the area dry.
- Squirt a bead of sealer around the seam or end cap and work it in with a gloved finger. Let it dry.
4. Add gutter covers.
- Add a gutter cover to reduce the amount of debris that enters your gutter system in the first place.
- Begin by cleaning debris from gutters, using a scoop and a bucket to avoid leaving a trail of debris around the house.
- We compared different styles of gutter covers. Here’s what we found out.
5. Install gutter and roof heating cables.
- Adding gutter heating products is a great idea if you live in a place that gets cold in the winter, as they help prevent ice dams.
- Purchase a heated cable specifically designed for gutters and rooftops.
- Install it in the fall when it’s dry outside and safe to use a ladder.
- Take one end of the cable, beginning at the corner of your roof and run zigzags to create 15-inch-wide triangles, running the cable from the overhang to the warm area of your roof.
- Secure the cable to each shingle where the roof cable bends using brackets.
- Run the roof cable along the inside of your gutter and down the gutter’s downspout.
- Plug it into a GFI (grounded) outlet.