Put Gutter Cleaning at the Top of Your Spring Cleaning To-Do List

Written by Posted On Sunday, 20 February 2005 16:00

Out here in mostly sunny San Diego, California gutter cleaning ranks right up there with shoveling snow. Most southern California homeowners don't give it much thought, but across the nation, gutters are an important home accessory during inclement weather no matter where you live.

"The gutters keep water off your head when you walk into the house, but that's really a side benefit. The major thing is to direct water that's dropping near your foundation and near your walls, away from your house not allowing it to soak under the foundation," said Mark Richardson owner of A-1 Rain Gutters in Escondido, California.

While only about half the homes in San Diego have gutters, Richardson says his company has become unusually busy.

"I don't think we've ever been this busy. We are eight weeks stacked out because we haven't had any heavy rain since 1996 and even then, it wasn't as heavy as this. This is the first time in about 30 years, I've been told, that we've had rain fall with such intensity and so consistently," says Richardson.

"There is an old saying 'It never rains in southern California.' The problem is when it does, it creates some issues, and as long as it is light to moderate rain it's fine. But what we're learning right now is gutters are under-sized, people with no gutters or nonfunctioning gutters are experiencing water intrusion and a lot of problems," says Richardson.

Gutters typically fill up with mud and debris from trees causing them to become clogged. Cleaning them out can take several hours for just a medium-sized home.

"It's a messy, hard job and a lot of times you have to get up on the roof and move ladders along. Most people don't want to do it more than once or, they have to pay someone to do it and if they hire an unlicensed contractor and someone gets hurt there is a high liability factor," warns Richardson.

If you're going to take on the task of clearing out your gutters be prepared to spend several hours on the job for just a medium-sized home.

Gutters should be cleaned three to four times a year. Make sure you inspect them regularly to check that the gutters have not become damaged or clogged with leaves and branches. Proper drainage is critical in order for the gutters to protect your home.

When you clean your gutters, make certain to run water over them to see that the flow is not obstructed. Clean any screens or guards carefully. Check the downspouts to make sure they are clear. Also, look to see that the gutters are securely attached and that they have not become damaged, or weakened by holding heavy debris or ice. If gutters are loose, the pitch is changed and that can cause water to overflow. Water that remains in gutters can lead to infestations.

"Gutters are made to hold moisture and when they're not working well, that moisture doesn't work its way out…. Clogged gutters that are wet will attract a lot of insects including termites," says Richardson.

For homeowners who find maintaining their gutters problematic, Richardson suggests a product that's been very popular back east because it stops debris from getting into the gutters.

"The Gutter Helmet attaches to the roof underneath the shingles or tile and then it connects up over the gutter so [installation] is labor-intensive but it permanently eliminates the problem. It comes with a permanent lifetime guarantee that you will never have to clean your gutters again and that's backed up by the installation and the factory. It's also a transferable warranty so if someone buys your house you can give it to them. It's obviously a high quality item," says Richardson.

The product costs about $18 to $22 a foot installed. That's about three times more than the installation of regular gutters.

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Phoebe Chongchua

Phoebe Chongchua is an award-winning journalist, an author, customer service trainer/speaker, and founder of Setting the Service Standard, a customer service training and consulting program offered by Live Fit Enterprises (LFE) based in San Diego, California. She is the publisher of Live Fit Magazine, an online publication that features information on real estate/finance, physical fitness, travel, and philanthropy. Her company, LFE, specializes in media services including marketing, PR, writing, commercials, corporate videos, customer service training, and keynotes & seminars. Visit her magazine website: www.LiveFitMagazine.com.

Phoebe's articles, feature stories, and columns appear in various publications including The Coast News, Del Mar Village Voice, Rancho Santa Fe Review, and Today's Local News in San Diego, as well as numerous Internet sites. She holds a California real estate license. Phoebe worked for KGTV/10News in San Diego as a Newscaster, Reporter and Community Affairs Specialist for more than a decade. Phoebe's writing is also featured in Donald Trump's book: The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying Foreclosures. She is the author of If the Trash Stinks, TAKE IT OUT! 14 Worriless Principles for Your Success.

Contact Phoebe at (858) 259-3646 or [email protected]. Visit PhoebeChongchua.com for more information.


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