How To Unclog Your Gutters

Routine Maintenance – Clogged Gutters

A man cleaning clogged gutters.

A building scientist once told me that 90% of wet basements and crawlspaces are caused by poor control of surface water runoff. The primary purpose of your roof is to shed water and it does this via the gutters (eaves troughs) and downspouts. As we leave fall and enter the winter season, now is a good time to check the condition of your roof and gutters to ensure that they can efficiently remove surface water. Leaves and tree debris can block water flow in the gutters and if permitted to remain on the roof, prevent it shedding water efficiently. Moss and tree debris also retains water and this can lead to premature deterioration of your roof. Removal of moss and leaf debris is best achieved by hand with a stiff brush or by hiring a specialist cleaning contractor. Care is required if using a pressure washer because if the pressure is set too high, it can remove asphalt shingles or the surface granules. The surface granules are there to protect the asphalt from UV light. Their loss will lead to rapid shingle deterioration. With wood shingles and shakes, high-pressure washing can seriously damage them.

Whilst there, the following is a suggested maintenance routine:

  1. Check gutters and roof surfaces and remove any tree debris from the roof and
  2. Check the gutter connections and transitions with the downspout. Downspout
    drains frequently get blocked with tree debris. Even if your gutters are fitted with
    leaf guards, these too can get clogged with leaf debris.
  3. Check the condition of the fasteners that secure the gutter to the fascia board.
    Loose or deteriorated fasteners will not hold the gutter in position should there be
    heavy snowfall and melt during the winter.
  4. If you have skylights, check the condition of the curb/flashing and look for moss
    growth and leaf debris close to the skylight.
  5. Downspouts either discharge into a perimeter drainage tile or above grade. If
    yours discharge above grade, then the distance from the foundation should be a
    minimum of 4’.
  6. Remember – only get on a roof if it is safe. Always follow Worksafe BC advice regarding working at heights. Here a link to their website for advice: Removal of leaf debris and moss from your roof and gutters is required routine maintenance task that will save you both time and money in the long term. When those heavy winter storms hit, you will know that your roof and gutters are in the best condition to perform their intended function – the efficient removal of surface water away from your home.