Summer is (almost!) officially over. Home exterior upkeep has gone from mowers and hoses to rakes and ladders. No other outside component of your house is as susceptible to the conditions of autumn than your gutters. Leaves, twigs, rain, and low temperatures are locked and loaded and ready to put your gutter system to the test. With the first week of October just around the corner, it’s time to officially prepare your gutters for the season.
5 Steps to Preparing Your Gutter System for the Fall Season
1. Clean and Inspect
The first rule of fall season gutter preparedness is clean and inspect. Unravel your garden hose one last time before it’s tucked into the garage until spring and flush out your gutters and downspouts. Give it a high pressure hosing and then put on your outdoor work gloves to pick up and wipe away any remaining debris. Only when your gutters have been thoroughly cleaned can you perform a proper inspection. The reason for the subsequent inspection? To check for loose brackets/screws, uneven sections, leaks, or any form of excessive wear and tear.
2. Repair Where Needed
Once you’ve cleaned and inspected your gutters you will have a good idea of where repair is essential. This can’t wait. Buy exact-fit brackets and screws and then replace and secure them where needed. If you’ve uncovered leaks, it may be possible to patch them. For good measure, clean the area surrounding the leak again, but this time using a wire brush and water, then scrub with an abrasive pad once it has dried. Apply plastic roofing cement over the hole with a putty knife while smoothing out the edges of the cement. If the hole is too big, you can apply a strip of aluminum flashing to the area, and seal the edges with the cement. If the repairs are significant enough that they have impacted the appearance of your gutters, you may want to consider replacing them. Gutters are like the eyebrows of your house – you don’t notice them until there is something wrong with them!
3. Keep Cold Weather Intruders from Nestling-In
Autumn doesn’t just bring falling leaves and rainfall, its cold snap sends rodents (mice, rats, squirrels and raccoons) packing for higher ground. The cozy beds presented by your concave gutters and downspout exit points gives them a place to nest. Pay a visit to your local home and garden store for humane rodent repellent and check your gutters often through the season to ensure they are free from nesting intruders.
4. Install Gutter Guards (Screening)
No matter how well you’ve trimmed your trees and raked the yard, leaves will still find their way on to your roof. It’s what they do. If you don’t yet have them, autumn is prime time to finally install gutter guards. A gutter guard is a fitted screen with pinpoints wide enough to allow rainwater to collect within and funnel through while preventing leaves and twigs from entering. A sound leaf protection system will be maintenance-free and can be installed on your existing system by a professional without hassle to you, the homeowner.
5. When in Doubt – Install a New Gutter System
Your inspection, cleaning, and attempts at repair may have evidenced that your gutters need replacing in the near future. If that’s the case, then it may as well be now. Delaying the inevitable and waiting another year or two can spell big trouble. One harsh autumn storm could deal the final blow that results in significant gutter damage, damage that will impact your landscape, home exterior, and worse…the interior of your biggest investment – your home. The good news? You are entering the best season to make your decision on a new system!