How to Care for Gutters

Keep gutters in top shape with these quick and simple maintenance tips.

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Owning a home puts lots of fun tasks on your agenda -- new paint, fresh decor, even a remodel or two. But rain gutters? That regular maintenance is one of the least fun things you "get" to tackle. But clogged gutters can do more than just misdirect water. All that detritus leads to wear and tear on the gutters, and the rain runoff can pool near your foundation, causing leaks or damage. Gutters that aren't working well might pull away from the roof, equaling home repair havoc there, too. Here's how to keep yours in good working order.

Clogged Gutters

What you'll need: Wire brush, gloves, hose

Remove debris by hand (stand on a ladder if necessary), and use a wire brush to get at stubborn accumulations. Rinse gutters with a hose to remove remaining dirt and leaves.

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Holes or Gaps

What you'll need: Sheet metal, metal snips, roofing cement, large putty knife, gutter caulk

For holes: Size and snip a piece of sheet metal to fit over the hole. On the inside of the gutter, spread roofing cement around the edges of the hole. Gently bend the sheet metal and press into roofing cement. Coat the patch with additional cement; let dry.

For gaps: Seal with gutter caulk.

Rusty Spots

What you'll need: Wire brush, roofing cement, putty knife

Using a wire brush, thoroughly scrape away the rust. With a putty knife, apply a thin coat of roofing cement.

Detached Gutter or Downspout

What you'll need: Sheet-metal screws, screwdriver, U-shape brackets

Drive a pilot hole, and secure the gutter or downspout with U-shape brackets and short sheet-metal screws.

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Missing Downspout

What you'll need: Fine-tooth hacksaw, file, metal downspout section, gutter caulk, U-shape brackets, screws, screwdriver

Measure the section to be replaced. Using a hacksaw, cut a new section of downspout, being careful to cut square. File the edges and secure using U-shape brackets and screws. Seal seam with gutter caulk.

New Screens and Strainers

What you'll need: Wire-cage strainers, scissors, screen guards the width of your gutters

Place the strainer above the downspout connection. Cut lengths of the screen guard to fit your gutters. Slip the inner edge of the guard under the first course of shingles and bend the other edge in place under the lip of the gutter.

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