Categories
Maintenance Tips Rain Gutter

How to Maintain Gutters in the Rainy Season

The gutters on your house provide a valuable service to your home’s exterior and are an essential part of roof maintenance. Gutters channel the rainwater run-off from your roof, preventing erosion of the soil around the foundation of your home. Gutters prevent cracks in your foundation as well as moisture in your basement caused by rainwater pooling and seeping down into the ground around your home.

Gutters protect your home for a multitude of other evils, including mold, mosquito infestations and peeling paint.

Gutters and Roof Maintenance

It’s crucial you do not forget to check your gutters when it comes time for some roof maintenance. Maintaining your gutters is important to the integrity of your home’s structure, so whether you are planning to stay in your home for an extended time or sell your home, it pays to keep gutters maintained to ensure the structure of your home remains solid.

The first thing you need to do before the bad weather comes on is to clean out your gutters and get them in good working order. You can hire a professional to clean your gutters or you can do-it-yourself. Here is a quick guide to DIY gutter cleaning and maintenance:

Scoop Out The Goop

To scoop out the loose debris in your gutter, you will need to use a ladder to climb up and see inside the gutters. Cleaning or attempting to repair your gutters from on top of the roof is not recommended. Clean your gutters while standing firmly on a ladder, observing ladder safety. Avoid standing on the top three rungs and don’t reach past the side rail – no farther than your belt buckle.  When working from a ladder, use one bucket for gutter debris and another for carrying tools. Use wire hooks to attach the bucket to the ladder. Make sure the area below the gutter is clear.

To clean out the goop, start at a drain outlet at the low end of a gutter, using a narrow garden trowel or gutter scoop. Work away from the drain outlet. The easiest time to clean goop out of your gutters is when the debris is just a little damp, not completely soaked or dried. Scoop the debris out of the gutter and into the bucket attached to your ladder.

Flush the Gutter with Water

Using a high-pressure hose nozzle mounted at the end of a water hose, wash out each length of gutter, working toward the drain outlet from the opposite end of the downspout. This can be a messy job; try to avoid splattering mud all over your house. If necessary, use a stiff scrub brush to remove encrusted dirt. If the water doesn’t drain, recheck the downspout strainer to see if it is clogged and clean as necessary.

If the downspout is clogged, check the drain end. If the downspout runs underground, remove it from the pipe as needed. Install a small nozzle on the hose, and lock it at full pressure. Turn on the water and feed the hose up from the bottom of the spout. If this doesn’t clear the downspout or the nozzle is too big, use a plumber’s snake tool to clear the blockage.

After the downspout is clean, reattach it and flush the gutter again. Also, make sure to clean the downspout strainers.

Adjust the Slope

From time to time during the rainy season, you can maintain your gutters by adjusting them to keep water moving toward the downspouts. If they are draining slowly (check this by running water through them), you will need to reposition them so that they slope at a rate of ¼ inch for every 10 feet.

Add Downspout Extenders if Necessary

If water is not being expelled far enough away from our house, you may need to add downspout extenders to help. Another thing to consider is adding concrete or plastic splash blocks, which extend away from the house for at least 4 feet.

Look for Leaks

Another thing you want to look at when maintaining your gutter during the rainy season are the sources of any leaks, including holes in the gutters and cracked caulking in the seams. Use an old chisel to scrape the old caulking out and dry the area thoroughly. Then use new bead silicon sealing to keep water from getting down behind the gutters and rotting the boards.

Check and Replace Rotted Fascia Boards

Check your gutters during the season to make sure they are affixed tightly to the fascia boards, looking at the boards to see if they have dry rot or other damage. When replacing boards, use treated lumber and paint the board to match the other boards.

Secure Gutter Spikes

Sometimes the gutter spikes miss the rafters entirely, usually because the spike has just worked its way out of the hole over the years. It’s a good idea to invest in new gutter spikes so the gutters are securely fastened once again.

Here are tips for replacing gutter spikes:

  • First remove the gutter spikes and ferrules (these are the large spacers that keep the gutter walls from collapsing while you drill). Make sure to install a new set as soon as you remove the old one.
  • Position the new ferrule inside the gutter, directly behind the existing spike hole.
  • Insert the gutter screw into the existing spike hole. Use a standard variable-speed drill, electric or cordless, to slowly thread the fastener through the spike hole and the ferrule and then into the existing fascia hole.
  • Thread the fastener until the head is even with the gutter and the screw has engaged with the rafters on the other side of the fascia board.

Consider New Gutters

Look for peeling paint and rust on your gutters. If they are rusting, they are very old and you may want to think about getting new gutters that are aluminum or vinyl. Otherwise, make sure to scrape and paint the gutters.

Inspect the Rivets

It’s easy for the rivets on your gutters to work themselves loose or drop out completely. With a rivet gun you can secure the rivets back into the gutter. You can purchase both new rivets and a rivet gun at your local hardware store to keep your gutters maintained.

To make sure that your gutters are maintained throughout the year, go through these steps at least twice a year before a rainy season to keep them in the best working order. Keeping up with the maintenance ensures your home is protected and remains an asset to you.

 

Categories
Home Improvement Skylights

Why You Should Consider a Skylight Installation

Designing a More Light-filled Space

Are you planning for a room renovation or addition in the future—or building a new home? Skylight installation is an often-overlooked element that adds real design impact.

Skylights bring the ceiling into the overall design of your interior room, as well as add interest to structure of your roof on the outside. If you’d like to bring the power of light and openness to your home, while staying on par with the current design trends of bringing the outdoors in, read on.

Skylights Add Beauty and Practicality

Aside from their obvious “wow” factor as a design element in a home, skylights have practical benefits as well.

Light

Does your home have a small space that feels dark and cramped with little natural light? Opening the room up with a skylight will expand the room with light and make for a more welcoming space. In terms of ambience, there is nothing that changes the feeling in a room more than adding a skylight.

Ventilation

In a room without space for windows, venting from the roof with a skylight can provide necessary airflow and ventilation. In addition to light, ventilation adds another layer of openness to the room—creating a more enjoyable space for you in your home.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficient skylights can help minimize your heating and lighting costs. With careful selection and installation, skylights are not just value in terms of beauty, but for practical reasons as well.

Light Up Your Rooms with Skylights

Bathrooms

Bathrooms are perfect places for skylights because you get natural light without having to worry about privacy issues. The bonus for bathrooms is that you can add ventilating skylights (choose electric if the ceiling is high) to keep down the moisture content in the air without having to install a fan.

Worried about rain with a ventilating skylight? Some skylights come with a rain sensor that closes with the first sign of rain.

Master bedroom

What better place to enjoy the sky view a skylight provides than on your back in bed? Imagine stargazing at night and watching the clouds roll by in the morning.

Having a bedroom infused with natural light creates a restful atmosphere with plenty of daylight and the privacy you want in your bedroom. If you like to sleep in, consider adding blackout blinds to your skylight, which can be closed with a remote control.

Converted attic

Converting your attic to living space adds more to your resale while adding more enjoyment for you, but these spaces can seem stuffy and cramped with slanted walls and little natural light. Adding skylights can make your space feel like a rooftop patio, wide open and full of air and light.

Whether you are making your space into a bedroom, home office, or playroom for the kids, adding skylights will soon make it the favorite room in the house.

Family room/Living room

Skylights in your family room or living room can make the room in your home where everyone gathers to hang out cozy and inviting—anytime of the day, whatever your activity. For taking a nap on the couch or watching TV, skylights with blinds can help you adjust the amount of light in the room. Blinds also let you adjust them depending on the amount of light and heat you need for the time of year—and can help save on your energy bill. For extra savings, consider a solar-powered skylight.

Kitchen

Skylights in the kitchen soak the room in natural light, providing plenty to see for tasks involved in meal preparation. Above any room in the house, the kitchen is often the place we need the brightest light to see what we are doing and to make sure our surfaces are clean.

If you are designing your kitchen, consider the wall space that is saved when you add skylights in place of more windows. The extra space can be used for cabinets or shelving for more storage.

Another reason skylights are so functional in the kitchen is because they ventilate from above, pulling out the cooking odors so they don’t linger for days. For skylights that release smoke and odors the quickest, opt for a ventilating skylight with remote control.

Sunroom

A sunroom is an obvious place for adding skylights so you can truly feel like you are living outdoors while remaining under cover. With a sunroom flooded in the warm rays of the sun, you can get that sunbathing feeling while staying protected from UV rays—some skylights can be coated to filter almost 100% of the sun’s UV rays. If you are a cat owner, there is a good chance your cats will enjoy naps in your sunroom, too.

Planning a Successful Skylight Installation

Before any holes are cut in the ceiling, some prior planning will ensure beautiful and cost-effective results in your home.

One consideration is the difference between windows and skylights: skylights will catch the high-angled glare of the sun, resulting in a different type of light in the room than a window. Also, the sun moves throughout the day, so looking at what direction the skylight will be facing will help to determine what type of light you will have throughout the day: intense Southern light or more diffused Northern exposure. Gray or bronze tinted glass can help with overheating, as can the addition of shades.

Another consideration when adding a skylight is to spend a little extra for a bigger size, for more impact, because most of the cost is in the installation. A skylight that’s too small can end up with an underwhelming effect on the room—a lot of effort for little benefit.

When choosing size, consider different types, like small tubular skylights for a bathroom. Pay attention to the quality of the skylights you are looking at to buy. Good quality skylights will have less risk of leaking later.

One last thing that is important is to look at the overall design of your house from the outside. Consider how the addition of a skylight will change how your house looks—putting a front-facing skylight on a traditional home may not be a good idea for curb appeal. Consider placing skylights on rear-facing rooms, and consult a home designer when in doubt.