Clean your guttersIn the Pacific Northwest, keeping water away from the home structure is of the upmost importance. With an average of over 42 inches of rainfall in the Portland/Vancouver Metro Area, your gutter and downspout system is a critical line of defense against water intruding into the home through the roof, siding, and foundation. Like all of the major systems in a home, gutters and downspouts need periodic maintenance in order to function properly.

Cleaning your gutters and downspouts twice a year is an easy way to ensure that your stormwater system can effectively direct water away from the home structure. This is usually done best towards the end of spring and near the end of fall as this is when most debris accumulation tends to occur. It may be necessary to do this more often if your home is in a wooded area or have many nearby trees that can drop debris onto the roof or gutters. Without regular cleaning, gutters can overflow and cause water damage to the siding, eaves, and lead to water intrusion into the crawlspace or basement. This can also lead to structural problems, such as undermining of the foundation.

Using a ladder set against the side of the house, clean the interior of the gutters with gloves and put debris into a bucket. Consider using a bungee cord to hold to ladder against the gutter to prevent slippage and to help hold it in place. When the debris has been removed, use a garden hose with a spray nozzle to clear any remnant or stuck debris. Check the system by watching the water run through the gutters and downspouts, look for any water that is pooling and not running all the way to the downspouts and for gutter leaks. If water is pooling, this can indicate that the gutters are not levelled properly or that there is a downspout clog.

Downspout clogs can cause significant problems and should be corrected before they lead to water damage from overflowing gutters. Using a plumber’s drain snake, run the snake down the downspout opening and wriggle the snake around to loosen up the debris. After cleaning the line with the snake, run water through the downspout to flush the loose debris out of the downspout. If water does not pool in the downspout of gutter, the clog has been cleared.

Please note that working on a ladder is dangerous. Appropriate precautions are advised. Consider hiring a professional for gutter and downspout maintenance if you are not able to use a ladder safely.