Having clean gutters is something many property owners take for granted, and tend to forget about until there is an issue. However, this can often cause complications, particularly in colder months when more problems are likely to develop with buildings and foundations. That’s why it is important for property owners to make sure their gutters are in full working order.
This is why we at Magna Property Services have put together this guide, based on our own knowledge and experience.
We are also able to send out our team to provide specialist gutter cleaning, if you are unable to carry out the work yourself. Contact us today if this is something you’re interested in for your own property and we will arrange a date for your property to receive professional maintenance.
The question you may already have in your mind is “Can you actually clean your gutters in winter?”. You may also wonder “Should you clean your gutters in winter?”. These are reasonable queries to have, given that poor weather would normally prevent this kind of maintenance, or render it ineffective. While it is technically possible for you to clean out your gutters in winter, we would suggest that the work is done as early as possible. If this can be done closer to autumn time, when the leaves are beginning to fall, you’ll be better prepared for the wet and cold weather of later months.
There are many practical benefits to ensuring that your gutters have been cleaned out, either by a professional service or by you, before winter sets in:
While gutter cleaning will never be the safest of tasks, ensuring that you are carrying it out in dry weather reduces the risk of slipping. However, there is still a chance that any leaves, leaf litter or other debris you find in your gutter will still be wet and slimy from decomposition, making them a hazard. As such, you must always be careful. If you are inexperienced at carrying out this work, or believe that you may slip whilst undertaking it, then we would suggest that you ask a specialist company to carry it out instead.
The UK regularly sees snow and ice over the course of the winter months, and when gutters are not cleared this prevents the water from draining properly. This then allows it the chance to freeze, expanding in your gutter as it turns to ice. In a worst case scenario, the weight of the ice dam may tear the guttering off your building, saturating your shingles and causing water damage inside your property. By cleaning your gutters before this occurs, you will be preventing further damage to your property and saving yourself money on repairs.
If you notice icicles hanging from your property during the winter months, this may be a sign that you have an ice dam.
Clogged gutters can often cause water to overflow and spill directly onto a property’s roof whenever it rains. This very quickly leads to rot and structural damage taking place, which may spread throughout your property if left. Similarly, the overflowing water may also damage fascias (particularly if these are made of wood), causing them to rot and wear away.
If water from clogged gutters overflows and pools around the foundations of your home, it may freeze during the winter. If it has poured into any crevices or cracks during this time, these will be made larger when the ice forms and expands. This will cause significant cracks in any property foundation and may result in further, more serious structural damage.
By ensuring your gutters are cleaned out and completely clear of leaf litter and other obstacles, you will be preventing mildew and mould from growing. This is because you will be taking away rotting debris which would normally serve as a breeding ground. In turn, this will then prevent mould, mildew and other contaminants from spreading under a property’s eaves and spreading inside the interior.
If you clean out your gutters before winter sets in, you can also ensure that you are not leaving a nesting place for pests such as mice and insects. In turn, this will also keep them from burrowing further in and entering your property.
If you wish to know how to clean out your gutters in preparation for winter, there are some suggestions we can make. However, we do first recommend making sure that you have a safe, sturdy ladder available for use. This should be high enough that you are able to see and reach into the gutter. It must also be secure, so you can use two hands to complete the work, but shouldn’t put pressure on the gutter because this may cause cracks that will damage your system.
It must also be noted that you should check your gutter sections to ensure that there is no sagging before you begin your task, as this could suggest that the brackets have come loose. In some cases, brackets may simply be screwed back in, but they may need replacing entirely if the section is damaged.
When carrying out gutter maintenance, we would always advise that you begin the work with your downpipes. These pipes are just as often blocked by debris, dirt, leaves and other obstacles, each of which may be dislodged by a drain rod or long piece of wire. In some circumstances, a powerful hose or pressure washer may remove more stubborn blockages.
Downpipes connected to your property’s wall may require unscrewing before this work is attempted.
Before beginning the main part of the work, you should check your gutters in order to find out what type of debris is causing the blockage. Depending on the contents of your gutters, you may have to alter your cleaning methods. For example, dry leaves and twigs will be easy to pick out, but if they have started to congeal, you may need to use a handheld trowel. There are also a number of industry-standard tools you can purchase and utilise, but these often come at a higher price than home garden tools. They may also require training if you are to use them correctly.
When removing clogs of decomposing leaf litter from your gutters, it may occur to you to throw this on your lawn, or into your flowerbeds. However, we do not recommend that you do this, as it may not be good for your plants. Instead, dispose of the waste in a suitable bin. Once all the waste has been removed from your gutters, you can flush it through with a hosepipe.
There are many methods you can use to prevent your gutters from becoming blocked in the lead up to the winter months:
The first question we would ask those thinking of cleaning out their own gutters is “Can you carry out this task safely?”. If you know that you are able to perform the task while acknowledging the risks and taking measures to prevent accidents wherever possible, then you should be able to get your gutters cleaned.
If you are inexperienced at cleaning out guttering systems, or do not believe that you could safely carry out the task by yourself, then you should instead consider contacting a professional property maintenance firm. The work is more hazardous than people often realise, and could cause injury to you or damage to your property if not carried out correctly. In terms of damage to your property, it may also cost money you hadn’t planned on from your budget, as well as time out of your schedule, in order to fix it.
Here at Square Foot Property Rescue, we have years of experience in working with blocked and overflowing drains that have been troubling our clients in the weeks up to winter. When you require a solution for your own gutters before the cold weather sets in, our dedicated, fully trained team will be ready and waiting to help.
We will commit ourselves to ensuring your gutters receive the care and maintenance they need, while keeping our disruption to your day to a minimum. This will all be carried out at a bespoke price that remains friendly to your budget, too. Contact us via phone or email today and we can book your property in for an appointment that will keep every part of your building in full working order through the coldest months of the year.