Homes: Inspect, repair gutters, downpipes

Autumn's on its way so get ready for storms and leaves

  • Sep. 17, 2015 5:00 a.m.

By Kevin Gillies



Batten down the hatches.

The green leaves are turning red, and dropping, and the autumn weather is coming ashore.

We are at the September Equinox and we’ve already experienced some fall weather here in the north Fraser region this year, and more is on its way as sure as daylight is diminishing daily.

And with this autumn weather comes the Lower Mainland’s annual deluge of rain and a home’s worst enemy – water.

So before the worst of the downpours begin, it would be wise to inspect your gutter and downpipe system, and repair any damage that has occurred in the past year.

This can be one of the most important jobs you do around your home all year, as gutters and downpipes direct water away from the house to protect your siding, foundation, and landscaping. Without them, siding can rot, basements flood, and flowerbeds erode.

Clogged or leaking gutters can lead to rotting fascia boards, peeling paint, or something worse, like interior leaks.

And don’t think that having gutter shields means you’re okay to skip inspecting your gutters this fall.

Pine straw and leaves can lodge in gutter guards, and smaller debris can filter through to cause problems. Plus shielding gutters doesn’t prevent leaks or keep hangers from working loose.

To clean out clogged gutters, you’ll need a ladder, a garden trowel or homemade scoop (made from an antifreeze container), a bucket lined with a trash bag, a hose, and a rag.

After removing any gutter guards, use your trowel to scoop leaves and other debris from the gutter. Dump it into your bucket.

The collected material can be added to your compost pile if you have one, or it can be dispose with other compostable lawn debris.

Once your gutters have been cleared of debris, check downspouts aren’t clogged by inserting your garden hose, with a rag wrapped around its end, so water is directed through the downpipe.

Turn your hose’s water pressure up as full as possible to ensure the water is flowing freely through your downspout.

If your downpipe has a clog that can’t be cleared with full water pressure, you’ll likely have to use a plumber’s snake to break through the plug.

Once that’s done, use your garden hose to flush out any remaining debris.

If the plumber’s snake cannot break through the plug, you’ll have to disassemble the downpipe and remove the plug.

Once water runs freely through the downpipe, rinse the entire gutter thoroughly with the hose.

After gutters and downpipes have been cleaned out, inspect and repair gutters and downpipes as needed.

Make sure the gutter hangers are securely fastened, and use a carpenter’s level to ensure the gutters are sloped properly and not holding water.

They should slant down toward the downpipes approximately a quarter inch for every 10 feet of gutter.

If a section of gutter is sagging, snap a chalk line on the fascia board, and remove the hangers in the area.

Measure from the chalk line, lift the gutter up and reposition their hangers to hold the gutter properly in place. Because water is heavy, gutters should have a hanger every two feet, plus one foot from any seams.

Once your gutters are securely in place, with the correct slope, you should check for leaks by running water through the gutters with your garden hose.

Mark visible leaks and allow your gutters to dry thoroughly before patching the leaks with gutter sealant.

You can also use caulking or roofing cement or specially formulated self-sticking patches to cover damaged gutter areas.

Then you can feel confident that your home will be safer from water damage once the Lower Mainland’s fall and winter deluge begins.

Kevin Gillies is a freelance writer for Black Press.


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