After You Move In: Money-Saving Maintenance Tips for a New Home

seniors new home maintenanceMoving into a new home is exciting! Once you get settled in, turn your attention to these simple improvements that can save money, time and – in some cases – your life. Most take just a few minutes or a quick call to a trusted professional.

  • Check the attic insulation. At least six inches of attic insulation is a crucial layer of protection against the loss of heated and cooled air. If your new home has too little insulation, a professional contractor can easily add more. Refer to ENERGY STAR® guidelines to find out recommended insulation levels for your area. Read more »

Money from the Sky: What You Need to Harvest Rainwater

rainwater harvesting gutterDid you know that money falls from the sky every time it rains? It’s true, and that money is in the form of water! Harvesting rainwater is a simple way to save on expensive, chemically treated municipal water while helping the environment around you. Even though it’s an old practice, there have been many innovations in rainwater collection. Let’s discuss the three most important elements of the modern rainwater harvesting system. Read more »

Common gutter problems

Common Gutter Problems: An Introduction

What’s the number-one gutter problem in America? That’s easy, because it’s probably the number-one reason why you’ve come to this website for information. Simply stated, the problem is leaky gutters.

With leaking gutters, water is no longer being effectively drained away from the foundations of your home. Yet if you’re like most homeowners, the problem literally hits you on an emotional level—when you’re fumbling for the front door keys during a downpour and being doused by a steady sheet of overflowing rain.

Let’s say you’ve finally had enough and decided to do something your leaking gutters. But like most baby boomers who’ve decided to maintain their current homes, you’re not thrilled about climbing a ladder and getting up on the roof. Take a fall and, chances are, your back will never be the same again.

What do you do? In time you’ll probably call some gutter installers and get a few estimates. But for now it’s time to do some homework. For example, what causes common gutter problems? And what’s the best remedy for your particular situation?

Think of gutter problems in two basic categories: performance and appearance. In other words, you want to replace your gutters either because (1) they’re leaking or (2) they’ve become an eyesore—or both! Within each category, your problem could be due to one of several factors:

  • Gutters might be leaky because they were improperly designed or installed, have become worn or warped, or clogged with debris or ice.
  • Gutters might be unsightly because the metal has warped or the coating has faded or become chalky and gritty.

So let’s run down these common gutter problems one by one, starting with performance issues and then covering appearance problems:

Part 1: Gutter Installation

Part 2: Warped Gutters

Part 3: Clogged Gutters

Part 4: Ice Dams & Frozen Gutters

Part 5: Clean Gutters

replace existing gutters

I Want to Replace My Existing Gutters

Clogged GutterTired of leaky gutters? Ready to replace gutters that sag off of your roof?

If you’re simply in the market for seamless aluminum gutters, then you really have to do your homework before replace your existing gutters. As mentioned above, there are no recognized industry standards, no required licenses, no professional certification programs, and no nonprofit trade associations for gutter installers.

Read other articles on this site about types of gutters and common gutter problems. Familiarize yourself with the options suited to the specific needs of your home. And then ask yourself: Is price your only consideration?

When you come right down to it, all that’s needed for a new seamless gutter system is an installer who can (1) rip off the existing gutters, (2) bring a machine to your front yard, (3) crank out the needed lengths of aluminum, (4) attach them to your fascia boards, and (5) haul away the old discarded gutters. Anyone with a pickup truck, gutter machine, ladder, screw gun, and caulk gun can do that.

But what if the workmanship is poor? If the screws pop? If the caulk gets brittle? If the aluminum is too thin? If the hangers are too widely spaced? If the metal sags or warps and pulls away from the fascia boards? If the size of the gutter and number of downspouts is insufficient to drain your roof? If the pitch of the trough isn’t right? If the corners aren’t smoothly mitered? If the downspouts aren’t snugly joined to the gutter trough? If the gutters and downspouts come from different manufacturers so that the colors fade differently?

For the sake of saving some money, do you want to risk finding out that your gutter installer is no longer in business? The gutter business attracts many people who may learn how to do gutter installation but are less skilled at the “business side of the business.” They offer low prices to generate work but then discover they can’t survive. Stories are rife of “one-man shows” who install by day, make sales calls by night, and lack the time and energy to get truly organized.

In general, then, look for gutter installers who take a professional approach to all that they do: professional in making sales presentations and giving estimates, professional in their workmanship and safety procedures, professional in the way they run their businesses. Don’t be afraid to visit their premises and look around. After all, your goal is to install new gutters that will give you a long-lasting solution.

The Trouble with Micro-Mesh Gutter Guards

micromesh gutter guards clogIf you have friends or neighbors with micro-mesh gutter guards, chances are they are not happy with the performance of the product. That’s because debris frequently builds up on the guards or water deflects off the fine mesh of the guard, causing more trouble than before it was installed. It doesn’t matter what a manufacturer claims: the fact is micro-mesh gutter guards will still need to be serviced once or twice per year. Here’s why. Read more »

best gutter guards

Lowe’s, Home Depot and More:
Whose Gutter Guards are Best?

It’s safe to say that very few people enjoy cleaning gutters. Each spring and fall, after cleaning leaves and muck out of their gutters yet again, countless homeowners head to their local big-box home improvement store to find a permanent solution to their gutter cleaning woes. You would think that two companies that are responsible for an estimated 80% of the home improvement industry’s annual revenue – Home Depot and Lowe’s – would be able to provide a reliable, long-term solution to these homeowners.

Unfortunately, they don’t. Gutter guards from Home Depot, Lowe’s and similar chains only serve as a temporary fix, for the following reasons.

  • Big-box gutter guards are not durable. A large percentage of the gutter guard products sold at major home improvement stores are constructed of vinyl or plastic foam. Foam gutter guards typically must be replaced after only two years because they become brittle and deteriorate. Vinyl is subject to twisting and warping due to expansion and contraction, resulting in gaps that allow debris into the gutter below. These products also cannot stand up to heavy loads of snow and ice without damage.
  • Big-box gutter guards are ineffective. Mesh and filter gutter guard designs all have one thing in common: they clog. While leaves may be deflected, the small perforations easily become clogged by seeds, pine needles and other small debris. So instead of cleaning out the gutters, you now have to clean the gutter guards! In addition, plastic products also attract the oil that naturally leeches from asphalt shingles, creating a residue that attracts dirt, pollen and silica.
  • Big-box gutter guards do not include a long-term warranty. When you purchase gutter covers at Lowe’s or Home Depot, be aware there will be no warranty coverage for materials or labor. These manufacturers know that their products are only a short-term fix for gutter issues and cannot back them with a long-term warranty.

While the big-box chains offer an extensive selection of items and low pricing, their products just don’t work in the field. If a gutter guard will clog and cannot stand up to a lifetime of wear and tear from the elements, why install it in the first place?

How to Keep Gutters Free of Nesting Birds

bird eggs nest in gutterMost people enjoy watching birds and their interesting behaviors. Unfortunately, some of these behaviors can be annoying and even destructive to your property.

When it comes time to build nests and raise young, many bird species find the open, narrow spaces of rain gutters and eaves to be an ideal place to settle down. Problem is, birds nesting in gutters will allow leaves and other debris to back up around the nest, clogging the gutter system and causing gutters to overflow when it rains. This may lead to other, more damaging problems for a home. Read more »

Get to the Source of a Wet Basement

basement flooding standing water

A wet basement can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare. Wet basements permit the growth of mold and mildew, and result in damage to items stored in the basement area. If that basement happens to be finished, not only can water cause damage to furniture and other furnishings, it can ruin walls and flooring materials and make the area unusable. To make matters worse, a leaky basement can become a structural liability and will often prevent a home from being sold if not resolved. Wet or damp basements are a common problem in both old and new homes, although the problem happens more frequently in older homes for a variety of reasons. Read more »