The first signs of fall are already here, but with the last few weeks of summer still in full swing, your eavestroughs are probably not the first thing on your mind. However, sooner than you know it, the leaves will begin to change, and having your gutters in good shape before the fall and winter is a must. Broken eavestroughs are not only expensive to replace but can cause water damage to your home -- an even greater issue. Properly working gutters and downspouts keep that water away from your house and foundation and help minimize the risk of erosion, water damage and basement flooding. Follow these simple steps to get your gutters ready for the coming seasons.

Remove Debris

The first step is to do a very thorough cleaning of your eavestroughs. This means getting up on your ladder and spending the time to get out all the leaves, twigs, seeds, buds and other debris that has collected. Pay extra attention to corners and connection points as this is where debris tends to build up and get stuck. You can make this process easier by using a plastic spatula. Using a plastic spatula means you can cut it to fit the size and shape of your gutters to easily and quickly run it along the bottom to scoop out the debris and scrape out the dirt. You will also want to clean out your downspouts. This can be done with a plumbing snake which makes the task quick and easy.

Inspect and Repair

Inspect and Repair

When your gutters are cleaned out, take the time to inspect them for issues and make appropriate repairs.

  • Check for missing or loose fasteners and replace any that are weak. Look for places where the eaves are pulling away from the house and make sure they are securely in place.
  • Realign your gutters and if there is any sagging, install gutter hangers if needed.
  • Look for leaks or gaps and seal them up. This includes all places where pieces of the gutters connect, downspouts, end caps and also seams along the back of each gutter. Even if you have a seamless eavestrough, your end caps and downspout junctions will eventually need repair, so be sure to check that they are properly sealed and repair them when necessary.
  • Be sure that your downspouts are bringing water away from your house, at least three to five feet is recommended.

Gutter Guards and Heaters

Gutter Guards and Heaters

Now that your eavestroughs are cleaned out, you might consider installing a gutter guard to keep out new debris and save yourself time with future upkeep. Gutter guards are a fairly easy DIY project and can be done in an afternoon. Guards are available in a variety of styles and types but generally are screens that are affixed over the tops of the entire eavestrough to let water through while keeping out leaves and other dirt. 

Another option for keeping your gutters in top working order is installing gutter heating. This will help to keep water flowing all year long, preventing the build up of ice and snow and the damage that comes with an eavestrough over stressed from being blocked with ice. Gutter heaters work with heated cables, specifically designed for eaves and roofs that are run along the bottom of the gutters and plug into a GFI outdoor outlet.

Continued Upkeep

Continued Upkeep

If you haven’t installed guards, continue to check your gutters for leaves and debris regularly. If you have many trees nearby, you will want to do this once or twice a month during the fall. You might also consider trimming back trees that hang close to your roof or gutters to decrease the amount of leaves getting caught in your eavestroughs. In the winter, keep an eye out for ice build-up and clear any dams that are causing strain on your gutters. Hanging icicles are a good indicator that an area of your gutter is blocked and needs your attention.