Properly maintaining your eavestroughs helps ensure that they last as long as they are designed to. Depending on the material the trough is made from, and how thick it is, this can be anywhere from 20 years to 50 years. Unfortunately, many people make minor mistakes when it comes to their gutters, which negatively affects their lifespan. Here are two of the most common eavestrough maintenance mistakes and how you can avoid them.
Using a Metal Trowel or Shovel to Remove Debris
Over time, leaves, sticks and other outdoor debris can fall in the gutter. Removing them every six to 12 months is important. These items can impeded the flow of water in a gutter, or weigh a trough down, causing it to bow or pull away from the home. Unfortunately, removing these items is not as easy as it sounds.
Some of the items that end up in the trough can be sticky or have sap on them. The longer they sit in the gutter, the more they stick to it, making removal difficult. To remove caked-on items, many people turn to metal trowels or shovels. This is a mistake that can scratch or damage the finish of your gutter, causing it to rust. Instead, follow these steps to clean your gutter:
- Use your hand to remove as much debris as possible. Always wear thick gardening gloves, as there can be prickly items or bugs living in the debris. Discard the items in a garbage bag.
- Spray the gutters down using a nozzle attached to your hose. Most hoses have a 30 to 80 PSI, which is perfect for undamaged and intact gutters. If your gutter is damaged, you will not want to use your hose on its highest setting. As you spray the gutters, debris will soften and begin to lift. Continue the process until as much debris as possible has been lifted.
- Use a plastic scraper or gutter cleaning tool to loosen any debris. Never use a metal scraper, trowel or shovel. A plastic tool will help you lift debris without scratching your eavestrough.
- Repeat steps two and three until all of the debris and gunk has been removed from your trough.
Ignoring Tiger Stripes
Dirt, pollen and other outdoor elements will often build up on the outer lip of your eavestrough. When rain falls, it washes them off of the lip and down the gutter. This causes a dirty, striped-like pattern on the exterior of the gutter that is referred to as tiger stripes.
Many people often see tiger stripes on their gutters, but ignore them. They think it is just dirt and that the dirt will continue to come back as soon as it is washed, so it is a losing battle. However, items like soil, insecticides, algal blooms and oxide accumulations can also be present in these stripes. These items slowly eat away at the finish, or cause algae and rust to form. Algae and rust both eat away at the finish and shorten the gutters’ lifespan. Don’t ignore tiger stripes. Remove them following these steps:
- Mix a cleaning solution. You can either dilute 1/3 cup of laundry detergent or two tablespoons of dish soap with one gallon of water. Or you can purchase a gutter cleaning product and follow the manufacturer’s directions to dilute it.
- Dip a soft-bristled brush or soft cloth in the soapy water. Do not use a hard-bristled brush or an abrasive scrubbing pad, as it can scratch or remove the finish on the eavestrough. Scrub the cleaning solution onto your gutter. Allow it to sit for five to ten minutes.
- Spray the exterior of the gutters using a nozzle attached to your hose.
- If the stain is lifting, repeat the steps until it is removed. If it is not lifting, continue to step five.
- If the stain remains, you will need a stronger cleaner. Mix one quart of bleach with three quarts water. If that doesn’t lift the stain, add 1/3 cup laundry detergent and 2/3 cup TSP to the bleach mixture. Rub the mixture into the trough’s exterior, allow it to sit and then spray it down. Stubborn stains may need multiple cleanings.
Gutters that are not properly maintained will have a premature death. This will lead to you having to replace them sooner. Learning how to care for and maintain your gutters can help ensure your eavestrough last as long as they are designed to. For additional help, contact an eavestrough expert, such as Armstrong and Nelson Inc.