Have you ever wondered what the pipes extruding through the top of your roof were? In most cases they are plumbing vents. They typically range in size from about 2″- 4″, and are sealed water tight with a pipe collar or boot. The most common flashing consist of an aluminum base with a rubber gasket that seals tightly around the vent. Unfortunately, while the aluminum base will last a lifetime, the rubber gasket has a much shorter lifespan, and can crack and deteriorate in just a few short years. Cracked or damaged pipe collars will leak water into your attic, and cause mold & mildew to grow, and If left alone long enough, can cause even more signification water damage.
When we complete gutter cleanings for our customers, we always check the condition of each pipe collar. If a pipe collar is damaged, we can generally repair it right there on the spot for a minimal cost to the homeowner. This is because we carry replacement rubber gaskets on all of our trucks. By replacing the damaged part of the pipe collar only, we are able to complete the repair quickly and easily, preventing costly water damage while also saving the customer money.
It seems as though winter has come early this year with the recent snow events, and while everyone is busy stocking up on food, new snow shovels, and ice melt, they may have overlooked a very important home maintenance need. You guessed it. Cleaning out the gutters!
Clogged gutters will wreck havoc on your home in the winter time. As the snow from your roof melts, it should drain through your gutter system and away from your home and foundation. When your gutters and/or downspouts are clogged with debris, the water becomes trapped and has no place to go. This standing water is not quick to evaporate like it is on a hot summer day. Gutters are not meant to withstand the heavy weight of debris, water, and ice buildup. The weight can cause your gutters to pull away from your home, bend, distort, and in some cases completely separate from your home.
Most of us have heard of the term “ice damming” but how many of us truly know what it means? Ice damming happens when the warm air from your home melts the bottom layer of the snow build-up on your roof. In below freezing temperatures, once the water reaches your gutters where it is no longer heated, it will re-freeze. As ice builds up to your roof line it will eventually trap and prevent proper water-shed from your roof. Water will then begin to work its way back up your roof .
When water is coming from the bottom up, as it does with ice damming, most waterproofing practices will fail. This is why many of us have experienced leaking during the winter that we do not usually encounter during a typical rain event. If your gutters are not draining properly, ice damming is significantly more likely to occur.
Gutters cannot be cleaned once the temperature drops below freezing. It is vital to have your gutters and downspouts checked and cleared before the winter months arrive. There are only a few more weeks left so don’t procrastinate. Schedule your gutter cleaning service today!
Of coarse we always recommend hiring a professional to complete your gutter cleanings, but if you decide to tackle this dangerous and tiresome chore yourself, here are a few hints and tips to help you along.
1) Invest in the right tools: Having the right tools is a must to complete any task. You will need an extension ladder tall enough to reach the highest gutter on your home, unless your roof has a shallow enough pitch that you feel comfortable walking on it to access higher gutters. We also recommend using a ladder stand-off to stabilize the ladder, as well as to keep the ladder off of your gutters and prevent from damaging them. Bring a hammer so that you can re-nail any loose gutter spikes, a long hose, Gloves (very important!), a leaf blower to clear off roof debris, a drill with the proper 1/4″ hex head bit to disassemble downspouts if needed, and a clean-out tool for the downspouts. The top elbow section of each downspout is the most vulnerable point for collecting and trapping debris. Bringing a 2′ flexible pipe cleaner, or even a small section of hose can be used, to snake out the top of a clogged downspout and avoid having to disassemble the downspout to remove the clog.
2) Remove all accessible roof debris: Start with the highest part of the roof first and work your way down. A leaf blower really comes in handy here. The last thing you want to do is clean all of your gutters only to have the accumulated debris from your roof fill them up again.
3)Inspect your roof: While you are up on your roof clearing debris, it is a great time to inspect your roof , and its easier than you may think. A) Check for soft spots in the roof. while you are walking you may notice sunken in, distorted, or soft spots in your roof. These can be signs of possible water intrusion or attic ventilation issues. Check the area around and above the noticed area for punctures in the roof or missing shingles. B)Visually inspect the roof for missing/damaged shingles. Also note the age and general condition of the shingles. The average shingle has a 25 year life expectancy. As shingles age they will become thin as they lose what most people refer to as shingle grit, which you also may notice accumulating in your gutter. C) Check all penetrations in your roof such as fan, dryer, and plumbing vents. It is very common for the rubber gaskets around pipe vents to dry-rot and leak. You can get a few more years out of the pipe collar by sealing around the dry-rotted rubber gasket with a good roofing cement.
4)Clean & clear your gutters and downspouts: Start by removing the debris from your gutters by hand (don’t forget your gloves!). Just like your roof you want to start with the highest gutters first. You can bag the debris as you go on the roof but for safety reasons we recommend just throwing it down on the ground. It is much easier and safer to bag it on the ground. When throwing it down from the roof, try to throw it into piles to make clean-up easier. After you have removed the big stuff by hand we recommend flushing out the small debris and shingle grit left behind using a water hose. This will also help ensure that the downspouts are clear of debris as well. When using a water hose it is important to know where the hose is at all times. A water hose that is left dangling from the roof can cause havoc on your landscape, lawn ornaments, flags, etc., when moving around on the roof. We recommend pulling the entire hose up on the roof. Loop the hose around the top of the ladder rung or around a pipe vent to prevent the hose from sliding back down to the ground. Start with the highest gutters at the opposite end of the outlet/downspout. Work the debris to and down the downspout. Check the bottom of the downspout to ensure water is draining properly. If the gutter backs up with water then you most likely have a clogged downspout. Use your downspout tool to try to snake any clogs that may be at the top elbow section of the downspout. If that doesn’t work because the downspout is too severely clogged, or the clog is too far down the downspout, dissembling the downspout me be required.
5)Inspect your gutters: Make sure your gutters are draining properly. Gutters that are holding water are more susceptible to collecting debris, perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other insects, can deteriorate the sealant in end caps, outlets , and miters, and can pull gutters from the fascia due to the added weight. If after flushing your gutters with water, the downspout is not clogged but the gutter is still holding water, your gutter may need to be replaced or re-pitched properly towards the outlet. This can happen due to bent or distorted gutters from improper maintenance or snow accumulation, natural settling of the house, or even a poor initial installation. Make sure your gutters are secured tightly to the fascia boards.Now days most gutters are installed using an internal bracket which is screwed to the fascia board and is not likely to pull loose. However, a lot of people will find that their gutters were installed using what is called a spike and ferrule. The spike looks like a large nail which can be seen from the outside of the gutter. The ferrule is the sleeve in which the spike is driven through and is found inside the gutter. With the weight of debris and snow accumulation these spikes tend to pull loose from the fascia board which can lead to fascia rot and even total collapse of the gutter. We recommend re-nailing any loose gutter spikes when cleaning your gutters. Using your hammer simply tap on each spike head until the gutter sets firmly to the fascia. You may notice that the spike does not hold and seems loose or keeps pulling away. If this happens call a professional to evaluate your gutters.
When finished with your gutter cleaning, be sure you do not leave any tools up on the roof. If you find any issues with your roof and/or gutters call a professional right away to avoid any costly water related damage that could result in the future. We recommend completing this important home maintenance at least twice a year, once in the spring and once again in the fall. However, every home will vary and you should adjust your gutter cleaning schedule accordingly.
Cleaning your own gutters can be hard work and very dangerous! If you decide to leave it to the professionals GutterMaid is here to help.
Pumpkin spice lattes, Halloween decorations, cooler days and chilly nights. There is no doubt about it, the fall season is quickly approaching! Residents in Maryland and Northern Virginia get to experience the dramatic changes of climate throughout the year. The different seasons each bring their own unique atmosphere, and while we may look forward to some cooler temperatures, it is important to make sure your home is protected during this critical time of year.
Leaves will soon fall from the trees and if your home is under or around them, it is likely that your gutters will soon become clogged with leaves and debris. History tells us that in this area, leaves will begin to fall sometime in October and continue to fall through late December. We do not recommend waiting until December to have your gutters cleaned as your gutters will most likely become clogged in the first few weeks of fall. Many of our customers have several gutter cleanings performed throughout the fall season and/or have a leaf protection system installed.
Be prepared! If you are a homeowner in need of regular fall gutter cleanings, or are considering adding a leaf protection system, don’t wait until its too late! If you wait until you are having issues due to clogged gutters before scheduling your gutter cleaning service, you will find that in the fall months, all service providers will be extremely busy and it could take weeks until your gutter cleaning service is performed. Avoid the frustration by having a leaf protection system installed before the leaves begin to fall, and/or pre-scheduling your gutter cleanings so that your homes maintenance is first in line. We make it easy! With our advanced software we are able to offer out worry-free gutter cleaning service. You can schedule your week of service days, months, or even years in advance!
We have seen countless times the frustration homeowners experience when abandoning a leaf protection system that has failed within a few short years. Whether its from the weight of debris or snow accumulation, or from the damaging effects from the sun and other elements, many of these inexpensive, store bought systems will fail, usually sooner than later.
Although some of the more advanced leaf protection systems can be expensive, gutter screens can be very effective, and installed at a reasonable price. A quality gutter screen should be a metal, one piece design, and should be durable enough withstand moderate weight from snow and debris accumulation. As with all leaf protection systems some maintenance will be required. If maintenance is performed regularly, then removal of gutter screens to clean the gutters in not usually needed.
We took these pictures below at a recent gutter cleaning in Ellicott City MD. As you can see, the gutters had not been maintained or cleaned in a long period of time. Most store bought systems would have collapsed, bent, broken, or distorted, compromising the system and forcing the homeowner to abandon it altogether. Since the homeowner had a quality, ridged leaf protection system installed, the gutter screens were completely unaffected by the long term neglect and debris accumulation. As you can see in the pictures, once the debris were removed the gutter screens look and function the same as the day they were installed!
You may ask yourself, why would I need a gutter cleaning if there are just a few trees near my home? If you notice gutters on your home that use to be functional but are now overflowing, you may want to consider GutterMaid first before you call a costly gutter repair provider. Often times gutters become clogged with other types of trash and debris such as tennis balls and birds nests.
Below is a picture we took while performing a gutter cleaning service in Frederick MD. This homeowner was surprised to have found her gutter full of water due to a piece of shingle that had broken off and blocked the water from entering the downspout.
GutterMaid does its part to “go green” and help protect the environment wherever possible. All of our trucks run on fuel-efficient, six cylinder engines, and we use advanced software to route our jobs and minimize fuel consumption. All of our “paperwork” is done electronically wherever possible, from our initial collection of customer information, to our invoicing and payment processing. Help us do our part by taking advantage of our convenient online invoicing and payment processing. All that is required from you is an active email address and we’ll take care of the rest!
GutterMaid knows that most people do not consider cleaning their gutters a top priority. It is perceived as an inconvenience and most people want to have their gutters cleaned as cheaply as possible. After-all, anyone with a tall ladder can clean gutters…Right? Handymen, landscapers, and the boy next door may offer to clean your gutters but what are you really paying for? The fact is that your gutters are high above the ground where you cant see them. How do you know they were cleaned correctly? Were the downspouts checked and cleared of debris as well? The landscaper you hired may be insured but is he insured to work on tall ladders?
You wouldn’t hire us here at GutterMaid to paint your house, or pave your driveway, so why hire someone else for you gutter cleaning service needs? We ARE the professionals when it comes to cleaning gutters. We know how to complete the job safely and efficiently.
Recently we performed a gutter cleaning service in Bethesda, MD. This homeowner was having their gutters cleaned regularly and even had a leaf protection system installed. As you can see by the pictures below the downspouts were completely neglected even when the gutter screens were installed. We immediately found the issue and because we carry the necessary tools, we were able to disassemble the downspout and clear the debris. Don’t continue to pay for someone you hope is doing the job right. Trust the professionals here at GutterMaid. Its our business to provide you with the best, most affordable gutter cleaning service available!
Can you see small trees and bushes growing in your gutter? While some people may find this aesthetically pleasing we strongly suggest keeping the foliage in your landscaping where it belongs. Gutters that have enough debris in them to support a small echo-system have probably been clogged and non-functional for a long period of time. Clogged gutters and downspouts can and will lead to damage of your home’s exterior, landscaping, and in some instances can find its way inside your house. You will most likely not notice this damage until you have accumulated thousands of dollars in damages!
But GutterMaid, Its going to cost a small fortune at this point to have my gutters cleaned! Not necessarily. We recently completed this gutter cleaning in Bethesda MD (pics below). All gutters and downspouts on this mid-sized single family home were cleaned and cleared in less than an hour, costing this customer only $100. At that price you cant afford not to clean your gutters!