Archive for the ‘Gutters’ Category

Preventing March Madness: Why You Should Consider Installing Roof & Gutter Ice Melt Systems

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

New roof with gutter ice melt system.

It’s that time of year again when the temperature drops, the sweaters come out, and the world turns into a frosted scene of snowy white. However, for many homeowners, this so-called winter wonderland can turn into a winter nightmare all too quickly. Gutter maintenance is probably not the first thing you think of when winter approaches but it is (or should be) an important part of your winter home preparations. In northern climates where temperatures frequently reach levels below freezing, it is imperative to have a properly maintained gutter system.

Ol St. Nick in the snow.

Santa Clause

As snow accumulates on your roof, besides acting as a landing cushion for ol’ St. Nick and a decorative frosting reminiscent of a gingerbread house, it can melt down your roof and refreeze around your gutters. This phenomenon is referred to as ice damming.

Ice dams may cause beautiful icicles to form along your roof, but they can have dangerous and destructive consequences for your home. Ice dams typically occur due to varying rates of melting. The bottom part of the roof is often cooler than the top, meaning that ice and snow will melt and run down to the gutter area where they will refreeze at the edge. This creates a wall of ice that captures subsequent snow melt from the roof, building up a larger and larger dam. This can cause damage to your roof and to the gutters on your home. As ice builds up under and around the roof, it can cause costly leaks, water damage, and a broken gutter.

Although it is March, and you may be thinking that you are in the clear as the warmer weather approaches, think again. While the days are longer and often warmer, temperatures can drop rapidly at night. This can cause all that snowmelt from the day to pool and freeze at the edge of your roof and in your gutters. You may be in for a nasty surprise when those April showers end up inside your house due to leaks caused by ice buildup.

Staying warm in the snowy winter.

However, there are a few ways to combat Jack Frost this season. Roof de-icing cables and gutter heaters are simple, and effective ways to prevent unwanted ice dams on your roof. De-icing cables are simply heated wires that are installed along the bottom ledge of your roof. Their purpose is to melt the snow before it has a chance to accumulate.

Another option is to install a gutter heater. These cables run along the gutter, preventing ice and snow from building up and blocking the drain, as well as preventing further damming along your roof. When gutters become clogged with snow and ice, the weight can cause the gutter to tear away from the roof, damaging both your roof and gutter system, and costing you a pretty penny. Rather than deal with the hassle (and danger) of periodically de-icing your gutters yourself, installing a gutter heater is a great way to ensure minimal ice buildup.

Gutter heating system

The workings of a gutter heating system

There are various roof heating systems available. Some cables only cover the gutter, others will extend from the gutter to the roof. For those with gutter guards covering their gutters, heated gutter caps can be added to heat snow and ice accumulations, letting the runoff drain into the gutter and away from your house. Depending on your house and snow melt needs you can choose the right system for your family. Whatever route you decide on, the best practice is to install before the weather becomes inclement to avoid potential injury. Trying to install a gutter heater in the middle of an ice storm is dangerous and unwise. But if you invest in heaters before the onset of winter, or when conditions are favorable, you will reap the benefits. You can safely avoid dangerous roof maintenance, guard against costly ice and water damage to your home, and prevent self-inflicted damages to your house from shoveling, de-icing, and salting your roof.

Michael David graduated from Utah Valley University with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies. He now lives in New York City and works as a freelance journalist. Michael loves writing about DIY projects, home improvement, and garden-related topics. From Salt Lake City electricians to Miami gardeners, Michael is happy to help.

Installing Gutters and Gutter Guards On Screened In Structures

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Gutter guards on a pool enclosure

Installing gutters and gutter guards on your screened in porch, pool cage or other screened structure may seem like an unnecessary task to the untrained eye. Still, gutters and compatible gutter guards should be installed on all screened in porches and pool cages. Here are just few reasons why and some problems that may arise during the installation process.


Size Of Structure

A screened in porch or pool cage that abuts your home may not seem like it needs gutters of its own. But, any screened in structure of significant size is going to need its own gutter to deal with rainwater runoff and mitigate the damage it causes. The larger the surface area of the screened in structure’s roof, the more water it will collect in a rainstorm. That means more water streaming down off the lowest edge of your porch.  That water needs to be redirected by gutters and downspouts to prevent flooding.

Type of Ground

The type of surface your screened in structure is built on also makes installing gutters important. If your screened in structure is surrounded by grass and soil, gutters are essential. That’s because rainwater that isn’t diverted by a gutter and downspout system will fall in a straight line off the roof, splashing dirt and grime back onto the structure. There is also a good chance undirected rainwater will cause erosion issues. If the structure is surrounded by cement, installing gutters may not be as important but it’s still the smart decision.

Gutter Guards And Screened In Structures

If you’re a homeowner with a screened enclosure or pool cage, installing gutter guards may seem like an impossible task. This is due to the fact that a trough is formed where the screen meets the roof making the most common gutter guard system, reverse curves, unusable on many screened in structures. These types of enclosures often have special gutters too, which makes finding a compatible guard difficult.

Other possible impediments exist too. The center of the structure or enclosure may be taller than the edges. These Mansard-style screened structures are very popular for pool enclosures. The problem with such designs when it comes to gutter guards is that the gutter guard screen drops down toward the gutter just like the roof. This makes the gutter the low point between the guard and the structure means a compatible gutter guards needs an adapted back edge and front lip.

Luckily, there are gutter guards out there that address the difficulties of installing a gutter guard on a screened in enclosure. Gutter guards with a stainless steel microfilter in a flexible aluminum housing can fitted down the length of the gutter’s connection with the structure. These guards’ adaptable backs allow them to be installed under the shingles of a composite shingle roof. If other roofing materials, like Spanish tiles are used, many of these gutter guard types can be installed on the fascia or gutter alone.

Peter Bruzzini is a roofing, gutter and gutter guard expert and loves to share his know how with the blogosphere.

Home Gutter Repairs

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
Damaged broken gutters

Damaged broken gutters

The gutter and downspout system are responsible for receiving rainwater shed from the roof and bringing it away from the house where it can do serious damage.  Most gutters are constructed out of aluminum or galvanized steel and are usually painted over to match the rest of the house exterior.

Maintenance

If rains regularly occur in your area, you’ll need to maintain a schedule of inspection and preventive maintenance to ensure your gutter system stays in good working order.  If rain is seasonal, perform due inspection a good month before the expected weather changes take place.

The first order of business is always to check for accumulated debris such as dirt, mud, leaves and other fragments that frequently stream along with water from the roof. Scoop out large concentrations of debris and hose down any remaining fragments with free-running water turned up at full-force.  Adding mesh screens on top of gutters should help keep out larger debris from finding its way back there in the future.

The slope of the gutter must be sufficient to allow unimpeded flow of water.  If it’s not, reposition it for proper drainage.  Lastly, check for weak spots in the system including punctures, leaks, loose joints and rusted edges. Running water from the roof down to the gutter and pipes should aptly demonstrate any apparent damage.

Repair

Immediately fix up any problems that you notice.  The sooner you handle problems, the less of an issue it’s going to be down the line.  Make sure to clean up the damaged sections thoroughly before proceeding to perform any repairs.

For rusted areas, sand down the affected metal surface. After cleaning up the corrosion, applying rust-resistant asphalt aluminum paint should prove sufficient to protect the gutter from later damage.

For leaky joints, applying a water-proof sealant or caulking right on the intersection should stop leaking. To prevent it from happening again, apply it both on the inside and outside sections of the gutter.  For small punctures, roofing cement should sufficiently cover up any holes.  For larger tears, apply a first coat of roofing cement and a sufficiently-sized metal sheet to cover the hole on top of it.  Afterwards, a second coat of cement should hold the setup tightly in place.

Check It

After performing warranted repairs and letting it dry, always check to see if everything works fine and nothing was missed.  If you hose it down and the system works as it should then you can go back inside and feel confident that even though rain may come, your house (and especially your gutter) is ready for it.

Does Every Home Need Gutters?

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

3785537119_31482c5fcf_m3

Gutters are recommended for most homes. But whether they are absolutely necessary depends on the answer to 2 major questions:

1. How much rain must the roof handle?

2. Where does the water drain?

Without gutters, a building needs some feature that ensures rain runoff is directed safely away from its foundation. If the overhang from the roof is extended far enough, the water will drain a safe 6 feet away. This is an unusual circumstance. Eaves on most homes stick out only 2 to 3 feet.

If the building is located in an arid climate where there is very little rain, then gutters might not be required. Again, this is a highly unusual situation. So, most buildings require properly maintained gutters of some sort.

Why Don’t New Homes Have Gutters?

Some builders have been known to leave gutters off new houses. The reason is fairly simple. Guttering can create warranty issues with eaves and overhangs because the gutter needs to be nailed into the fascia. There, it can create wear and tear and water damage over time. Crafty construction businesses know gutters are required. Yet they want other companies to handle the warranty for this work. This can save them a lot of money over an extended period of time.

Building contractors can get away with this because homes often look finished without gutters. If a buyer of a new home asks about gutters, the builder can always recommend another company to do the work. Their excuse is often that they are not in the gutter business and custom built ones will work better anyway. So, if you are planning to buy a new home, remember to ask for an additional discount to cover the cost of having gutters installed.

Wasps and Gutter Maintenance

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

wasp-nestGutters with guards are often touted as being basically maintenance free. While they may keep out some debris, they don’t protect against colonization by social wasps that prefer secluded areas to build their nests. You should inspect your gutters regularly and be on the lookout for any wasp activity in the vicinity of your roof.

European paper wasps are the most likely species you will encounter when cleaning your gutters. These insects typically only become aggressive and sting when their nests are disturbed. However, a home owner cannot ignore gutter maintenance to avoid the danger posed by wasps. A large paper wasp nest can easily clog the gutter system and make it basically useless. Also, one nest can turn into many in a fairly short period of time when the population is left unchecked. Young queens will build new nests as soon as they have the opportunity and will look for protected places to hibernate over the winter.

Controlling Social Wasps

Inspection for paper wasps is particularly important during the spring and autumn. The fall months are when the male drones are raised and the entire colony becomes easily agitated. These males fertilize numerous female queens who will then start building nests the next spring. The only effective method to control these pests is to spray a colony with wasp killer as soon as you detect the nest.

Spraying at dawn or dusk is most likely to kill the whole nest’s population. Wear heavy protective clothing and place the ladder as far as possible from the site you are spraying while still being in range to spray accurately. You don’t want the wasps swarming around you and causing you to lose your balance in a panic. After the nest’s population is completely eradicated, you may be able to use a coat hanger to detach the nest. If the nest is small enough, you can then use a hose to wash it through the downspout. Otherwise, you will have to disassemble that section of gutter to remove the nest.