Tag: Gutter Cleaning

  • How to Avoid Foundation Issues

    Courtesy of House Logic

    Courtesy of House Logic

    Like most major problems, foundation issues can often be traced back to other exterior problems around your home, such as gutter problems and poor soil excavation.

    Check out this article on inspecting your home to make sure seemingly minor issues won't cost you big on repairs to your foundation later.

    1. Grading gaffes

    Poor soil excavation can direct water toward the base of your house and through foundation walls. Make sure your yard is graded at least 6 inches in 10 feet so soil slopes away from your house.

    You may have to build up a berm, dig a trench, or install a French drain to funnel rainwater and runoff away from your home. Also, be careful when you apply mulch on foundation plants. Make sure that slopes away from your home, too.

    2. Downspout downer

    Downspouts should direct rain and roof runoff away from your house. But if you don’t extend the downspout 5 to 10 feet away from the house, you’ll dump water on your foundation. You can buy extenders from plain ($15) to fancy ($30). Or bury a long downspout diverter underground and drain the water to the curb, a storm drain, or to a spot in your yard where the water will percolate into the soil.

    3. Water woes

    Avoid letting the soil around your house completely dry out and shrink during a long dry spell. The next big rain could soak the soil, making it expand dramatically and putting stress on your foundation walls. In drought, run a soaker hose around your house at least 6 inches from the foundation and 3 inches under the soil. That should help quiet soil contraction and expansion.

    4. Root riots

    Tree and shrub roots can compete with your soil for moisture during drought, causing your foundation to settle and sink unevenly. When that happens, drywall can crack and windows and doors will stick in their frames.

    To prevent a war for water, plant deep-rooted trees and shrubs away from the house. If the branches touch the house, the tree is too close.

    Need more info? Here’s more information on spotting foundation problems, and options for foundation repair.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your siding, gutter installation, and gutter repair needs. Call us today at  215-453-9180 for your FREE estimate!

  • How to Fix Leaky Rain Gutters

    Gutters that are sagging or leaking can cause damage to your roof and siding, which could cost you big bucks to fix.  If you catch the problem early and take care of any issues you gutters have, it will save you big in the long term.

    Here are some tips on how to fix your gutters and protect your home, courtesy of House Logic.  As always, when you are working with gutters, you will generally be up on a ladder. Always make sure you take the proper safety precautions and if you do not feel comfortable doing this maintenance yourself, hire a professional.

    How to fix leaky gutters

    Seal leaky gutter joints and small holes using gutter sealant applied from the inside the gutter. A tube of sealant costs about $5.

    Repair larger holes using a gutter patch kit or a scrap of metal flashing glued down with sealant. You’ll find patch kits at home improvement centers for about $10.

    How to straighten sagging gutters

    If you suspect a sag, get up on a ladder and sight down the length of the gutter. Gutters should be straight. Long gutters should have a peak in the middle to enable water to run toward downspouts at either end.

    The problem area should be easy to spot. In most cases, you can simply reposition loose hangers, using a cordless drill or a hammer.

    Here’s how to set stubborn sags straight:

    • From the ground, prop a long, straight 1x4 or 2x4 brace under the sag.
    • Get up on a ladder and remove a hanger or two near the sag.
    • Sighting along the gutter, adjust the brace until the sag disappears.
    • Replace the hangers. If needed, add one or two new hangers for extra support. They cost less than $3 each.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your gutter maintenance, gutter repair, gutter inspection and gutter installation needs.  Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE estimate!

     

     

  • Keeping Gutters Clean During the Fall

    With the fall comes falling leaves, which put your gutters at risk of clogging, which can lead to not only gutter damage, but roof damage as well.  Here are some tips from The Weather Channel to keep your gutters free from debris.  Don't forget that gutter maintenance usually requires climbing a ladder and dealing with heights, so make sure safety is the priority and  if you don't feel comfortable, call an expert to handle the maintenance.

    Steps To Clean Your Gutters

    • Clean leaves, sticks, needles and seeds from gutters, scooping out debris with a garden trowel or gloved hand.
    • Don't try to remove the debris with a hose because that may cause downspouts to clog.
    • Remove the pasty goo made up from the tiny granules from asphalt roofing shingles that have mixed with dirt and water.
    • Flush out residual matter, using a garden hose.
    • To clean downspouts, turn on the hose full blast and thread it into the drain opening.
    • Check gutters after flushing for pools that indicate low spots. Gutters should be sloped about one vertical inch for every 15 to 20 horizontal feet so that they drain properly. Adjust gutters as necessary.Repairing GuttersInstall new hangers to hold gutters firmly in place. Typically, gutters are attached with straps, hangers or long nails inserted through metal collars -- a system called "spikes and ferrules."

      Don't bother replacing straps, renailing old spikes or adding new spikes. Because you must pry up roofing materials to replace straps, it's easier to make repairs using individual gutter hangers with self-tapping screws, available at home improvement centers.

      Also replace spikes with gutter screws and matching ferrules. "Over time a spike is always going to push out," says Gibson. "A gutter screw really has holding power."

      Fix Leaks

      Fix leaks at seams with silicone sealer. Although patch kits are available for repairing rust holes in steel gutters, the patches will prove to be only temporary. "If you've got rust holes in steel gutters," says Gibson, "they're pretty much finished. It's better to get new ones."

      Replacing Gutters

      If you need to replace your gutter, Tom Wood of Emerald Gutter Services in Eugene, Ore., says steel gutters generally perform better than aluminum or vinyl. "Aluminum gutters move too much during weather changes," says Wood. "The expansion and contraction causes nails and screws to loosen up. And vinyl comes in 10-foot lengths, meaning there are lots of seams that need to be sealed."

      Both steel and aluminum can be installed without intermittent seams, and the best steel gutters feature baked-on enamel finishes with 40-year warranties. According to Wood, expect to pay about $450 for a professional to install new gutters and downspouts on a typical two-story suburban house.

      A Safety Tip

      Remember that gutter maintenance often means working on a ladder. As you work, make safety a priority. Make sure your ladder is firmly planted, and don't stretch to make repairs.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your gutter maintenance, gutter repair, and gutter installation needs. Call us today at 215.773.9181 for your FREE estimate!

  • Simple FIxes for Common Gutter Problems

    Courtesy of House Logic

    Gutters are a very important aspect of maintaining the function and quality of the exterior and interior of your home.  That is why gutters should receive routine maintenance a couple times a year.  Sometimes the homeowner is able to handle some of this maintenance. However, gutters are high off the ground and usually require a ladder to access, so if you don't feel comfortable with performing maintenance, you should have a professional handle it instead.

    Here are some tips courtesy of House Logic to keep your gutters well-maintained:

    Clogged gutters

    This is the most common problem of all. Left untended, gutters and downspouts get so clogged with debris that they’re rendered useless. The excess weight of leaves, twigs, and standing water can also make them sag and pull away from the fascia.

    Clean them at least once a year, and twice a year if you have a lot of trees nearby. Gary Mindlin, managing partner of New York City-based Top Hat Home Services, schedules gutter maintenance four times a year, with additional checks after big storms.

    You can clean your own gutters if you’re comfortable on a ladder, don’t mind getting wet and dirty, and don’t have an extremely tall house. After you’ve cleared the muck, flush them with a garden hose to make sure they’re flowing properly. If you’d prefer, you can hire someone to do the job for you for between $50 and $250, depending on the size of your house.

    Another option for dealing with chronically clogged gutters is to outfit them with gutter covers. These include mesh screens, clip-on grates, and porous foam. They still need regular maintenance, though, and the cost can be more than the gutters themselves.

    Sagging gutters and gutters pulling away from the house

    This is usually a problem with the hangers, the hardware that secures the gutters to the fascia. They might have deteriorated over time, the fasteners may have backed out of the wood, or they’re spaced too far apart to support the weight of full gutters. The cost to fix it yourself is cheap; hangers generally cost $10 or less apiece, and the fasteners run about $1 each.

    Leaks and holes

    Leaky gutter joints can be sealed by caulking the joint from the inside with gutter sealant, says John Eggenberger, vice president of training and corporate development for the Mr. Handyman franchise of home repair companies. A tube costs about $5. Very small holes can be filled with gutter sealant. Larger holes will require a patch. If you can’t find a gutter patching kit at the hardware store, you can make a patch from metal flashing.

    Improperly pitched gutters

    Gutters need to be pitched toward the downspouts for the water to flow properly. You want at least a quarter inch of slope for every 10 feet. Get on a ladder after a rainstorm and look in the gutter; if there’s standing water, it’s not pitched properly.

    To correct this yourself, you’ll need to measure from the peak to the downspout. Snap a chalk line between the two and find the spots where the gutter is out of alignment. You might be able to push it up into place by bending the hanger. If that doesn’t solve the problem, you might need to take a section down and rehang it. If you have seamless gutters, call the company that installed them to correct the problem.

    Downspouts draining too close to the foundation

    Downspouts need to extend several feet from the house, or they’ll dump right into the basement. Gutter extensions attached to the bottom of the downspout will discharge water well beyond the foundation. They’re inexpensive and easy to install. “I like the downspout material extended four or five feet and screwed on,” says Reggie Marston, president of Residential Equity Management Home Inspections in Springfield, Va. Cost: less than $20 per downspout.

    Missing gutters

    If your house has no gutters at all, consider investing in a system. The cost depends on the material. Most residential gutters are aluminum, which is lightweight and durable. “Unless an aluminum gutter is damaged by something, it will last forever,” says Scott McCurdy, vice president of Jacksonville, Fla.,-based disaster repair contractor Coastal Reconstruction. Vinyl, galvanized steel, and copper also are available options.

    Aluminum gutters range from about $4.50 to $8.50 per linear foot installed. On a 2,000-square-foot house with about 180 linear feet of gutters, that’s roughly $800 to $1,500.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here for all of your gutter maintenance, gutter repair, gutter installation, and gutter inspection needs. Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE estimate!

  • Preparing Your Home for Fall & Winter

    Courtesy of Stacy Gold/Getty Images via Houselogic

    In order to prevent damages and costly repairs to your home come springtime, it's a good idea to provide some maintenance to your home before winter hits.

    Houselogic has a checklist of things residents in the Northeast should inspect, clean and protect before winter weather rolls in:

    Key maintenance tasks to perform

    Clean your gutters. Leaving debris in your gutters is an invitation for trouble. Not only can it freeze and damage the gutters themselves, but it also can force freezing water up under your shingles and damage the roof. Gladstone says that many homes in the Northeast now have covered gutter systems, which fools many homeowners into thinking gutter cleaning is unnecessary. “Gutter covers keep leaves out,” he says, “but not fine organic material or grit from the roof.” It’s important to remove the covers and clean just as you would regular gutters.

    Clean and put away lawn and garden equipment. Do a visual inspection of the yard to identify anything lying around — garden tools, hoses and nozzles, patio furniture and accessories — that might be damaged by snow and ice and should be brought in for the winter.

    Run your lawn mower until the gas tank is empty; if you leave gas in the tank over the winter, it can degrade and lose some of its combustion ability. Worse, gas can react with the air in the tank and oxidize, forming deposits that affect the machine’s performance; worse still, moisture can condense inside the tank and cause rust that blocks the fuel lines.

    If you know you’re going to leave gas in the tank over the winter, add a stabilizer to the last gallon you put in (mix it in the gas can, not the mower tank, so that you get the mixing ratio correct).

    Disconnect hoses and winterize lawn irrigation systems. Leaving water in any exterior hoses or pipes can cause them to freeze and burst. If your exterior faucets aren’t self-draining, be sure to turn off the water manually at the shutoff valve inside the house so water doesn’t stand in the wall pipes.

    If you have a lawn irrigation system, it’s important to make sure all the water has drained from the system before the first freeze. Depending on the type of system you’ve installed, this may require the assistance of a professional. A pro charges $50 to $150 to winterize an irrigation system.

    Schedule a furnace tune-up. Follow your furnace professional as he works, and ask questions about what he’s doing, says Gladstone. The technician should be working his way through a checklist of items such as inspecting filters, checking the chimney exhaust, and examining the blower and fuel connections. Expect to pay $50 to $100 for a furnace tune-up.

    (Wondering if you should convert from oil to gas heat?)

    Replace wicks and air filters in your humidifier. If you use a portable humidifier in winter to mitigate the drying effects of heating, start the season with fresh wicks—the small filters that absorb moisture from the reservoir; a fan directed at the wick dispenses the moisture into the air. Also check air filters, if your unit contains them (consult your owner’s manual). Replace wicks again in two to three months for a cost of about $15. It’s an absolute must to clean the humidifier every few weeks during winter to keep it free of mold, bacteria, and mineral deposits. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions.

    However, Gladstone points out that “most homes are too wet.” Humidifiers may contribute to excess moisture that encourages the growth of mold and mildew. Use a humidifier only if necessary, and choose a single-room model so that you can check easily to see if the unit needs cleaning.

    Protect your air conditioning unit. If your outdoor air conditioning unit is located under trees or under the drip line of the house where icicles and snow may fall, give it a little protection by placing a sheet of plywood over the top and draping a dropcloth over it. However, don’t create a fully enclosed space, as that can trap moisture and offer winter protection for rodents.

    Close your storm windows. It’s a simple step, but an easy one to forget. Make sure the windows are shut properly so that the outer pane is up and the inner pane is down; this keeps rain and other forms of precipitation out.

    Insulate pull-down staircases for attics. The openings that accommodate pull-down staircases can cause significant heat loss during winter. You can purchase an insulated cover for the opening, or for about $30 you can make a foam box yourself with duct tape, weatherstripping, and a piece of 2-inch-thick polystyrene foam; 2-inch foam has an insulating value of about R-10. “This simple step will pay for itself many times over,” Gladstone says.

    Spending a weekend or two on maintenance can prevent costly repairs and alert you to developing problems. Visit the links listed below for more detailed information on completing tasks or repairs yourself.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your seamless gutter installation, and gutter maintenance and gutter repair needs.  Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE estimate!

  • Gutter Maintenance Tips

    Oftentimes, homeowners forget about maintaining their gutters and downspouts. However, though what gutters do is simple (collecting the water that accumulates on your roof) it is very important no only for your roof, but for other aspects of your home as well.

    According to Buildipedia.com, issues around the home that are related to poor maintenance of your gutters and downspouts are:

    • Cracked foundations
    • Damaged landscaping
    • Settling porches, sidewalks, and driveways
    • Rot, mold, and mildew on exterior trim and cladding
    • Rot, mold, and mildew on wood structures, sheathing, walls, and ceilings
    • Damaged insulation
    • Termite infestation
    • Mosquitoes breeding
    • Growth of vegetation in clogged gutters

    Chances, are, you should also leave gutter cleaning and maintenance to the professionals, especially since cleaning them often requires use of a ladder and not all people know about the proper safety precautions. According to the Buildipedia.com article, The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has stated, "Each year there are more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries in the U.S. relating to ladders." And, if I were you, I wouldn't wan't to be part of that statistic.

    By far the most prevalent issue that most people have with their gutters is clogging. It is extremely important to keep your gutters free from debris that falls and accumulates in it.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help you with all of your gutter cleaning, gutter maintenance and gutter repair needs. Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE estimate.

     

  • Helpful Tips on Cleaning Your Gutters

    Check out this video by Lowes on cleaning your gutters.  Maintaining your gutters is an important part of your routine home maintenance.

     

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your gutter cleaning, gutter maintenance, gutter repair and seamless gutter installation needs. Call us today at 215-773-9180 for a FREE estimate!

  • 10 Roofing Tips to Stay Safe and Maintain Your Roof

    There are a lot of precautions you need to take when doing things like cleaning your gutters and inspecting your roof.  Here are the DIY Networks "Top 10 Roofing Tips"

    1. Think Safety First

    Fussing to try and find a leak as soon as it happens is something that could put you in the hospital. Meddling on a roof while it's raining or covered with ice and snow isn't the ideal way to find a leak. Trying to temporarily fix a leak could be highly dangerous. If you want to do it right, there is no quick-fix. Just take your time, and be very patient and careful to wait for Mother Nature to give you the green light.

    2. Take Precautions

    Being on a roof will put the body in positions that are not comfortable or safe. Make sure to wear rubber sole shoes to prevent slipping. Also use a harness and always work with a buddy.

    3. Spray the Roof

    Take a garden hose and go up to the roof and start spraying in different locations to find the leak. Wait if it's wintertime because it's not safe to run water on the roof when it's freezing out.

    4. Keep Gutters Clean

    One of the most common areas and causes for roof leaks are clogged gutters. Gutters that have not been cleaned can cause the water to build up during rain.

    5. Avoid Dry Rot

    Dry rot isn't related to any type of water damage, but lack of ventilation. If a roof repair is right in the middle of the roof, there is a chance that the plywood might be deteriorating. The roof will actually sag in and cause the roof shingles to get brittle, crack and then leak. Preventing dry rot consists of installing a ridge vent, which will only work if there is a soffit vent. Holes have to be drilled through the soffit vents so cool air comes in through the bottom and pushes the hot air out through the top.

    6. Prevent Ice Buildup

    In the wintertime, ice has no problem building up under the roof membrane, shingles and gutters. The ice builds back up when it reaches the wall line where the house is heated and it creates an interior drip. Proper ventilation, rain and ice shields along with installing a drip edge will help prevent this problem.

    7. Fix Roof Boots

    Flashing, roofing, ice damping and skylights are all obvious places for potential leaks. One thing people often miss is the rubber boots. It's where the roof fence comes up that you find roof boots. If they dry up they will cause major leaks. It's a quick fix; purchase a new roof boot in a local hardware store. You may have to remove some of the shingles, lay a better tar under it and put it back in place.

    8. Inspect Materials

    Sometimes shingles are faulty and will begin to crack after they've been nailed down. Faulty installation with nails and shingles can also play a big part in leaks. Nails could be nailed too low and it will start pushing back up. Make sure to always check merchandise before getting on the roof.

    9. Check Valleys

    A valley is where the intersection of two roofs comes together. It is also called the ridge, which is again where two roofs meet at the top. Valleys are very common places for leaks because that's where the water from the entire roof goes to and it will start sloshing back and forth.

    10. Eliminate Leaks

    It's important not to get discouraged when a leak can't be found. It's a process of elimination. You've covered one area, installed the shingles back and sealed it watertight so at least one spot is eliminated. Now, you can try other areas.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to handle all of your roofing maintenance needs. Call us today at 215-773-9180 for your FREE ESTIMATE!

     

     

  • How Often Should You Clean Your Gutters?

    Homeowners ask this question a lot, how often should you clean your gutters?

    The answer is very simple, you should clean out your gutters at least twice a year. You should clean them more if they appear dirty. The best way to clean your gutters is to hire a professional. This will ensure that your gutters are cleaned properly and safely.

    By having a professionally clean your gutters you can be certain that all the dirt, leaves and any other objects are cleared from your gutters. Also they will make sure your downspout is clear and draining properly.

    If you have a routine system in place to clean your gutters it will help the life span of your gutter and roof. The Spring and Fall months are the best time to check and clean your gutters since these are the months with the most leaves, rain and debris that may clog your gutters.

    If gutters are not cleaned properly it can result in mold, fungus and or bacteria to grow in your gutters and up in your roof. Thus needing to be replaced.

    As always call us for any gutter questions.

     

  • Ladder Safety for Gutter Cleaning

    Most gutters need regular cleaning -- which means you'll probably have to use a ladder to do it.

    As SeamlessGuttersToday points out, approximately 222,000 people get injured every year in ladder related injuries. Therefore, it's important to remember a few safety precautions you should always take if you choose to clean your own gutters.

    First things first, never use a ladder alone. It's just not smart. If you get stuck in a situation where you need help, it's obviously going to be a problem if no one is there to do so. In addition, a friend can hold the ladder on the ground to help stabilize on it.

    It's also important to inspect the ladder prior to it's use. Sometimes a ladder may seem safe cosmetically, but on a closer inspection reveal problems.

    When setting the ladder up, you must also inspect the surface where it will touch. If the ground is muddy, or unstable in any way, you should not risk going up on the ladder.

    As for angle, this depends on the height of the ladder. Or as SeamlessGuttersToday say:

    The proper angle for setting up an extension ladder is based on how tall the ladder is; the base of the ladder from the side of your house should always be a quarter of the total height of the ladder. For instance, if your extension ladder is 12 ft. high, the base of the ladder should be 3 ft. away from the side of the house.

    Also, for the sake of not damaging what you are trying to fix, do not clean the ladder against a gutter. It not only risks damage, but also your safety -- some gutters have a slick coating which could destabilize it.

    In the end, it's important to put safety first when cleaning your own gutters. Or, if you don't want to, call us and we'll do if for you!