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Gutter Cleaning in Portland Oregon
Gutter Cleaning is Important and Necessary in NW Oregon
We get about 40 inches of rain per year in Portland. For an average 1600 sq foot roof section, this equates to 40 thousand gallons of water (39,896 gallons to be exact) crossing over a roof. That's a lot of water. If your gutters back up or downspouts plug, you can see it causes problems with flooded basements, cracked foundations and eroded landscaping. Cracked foundations allow foundations to shift.
Serious indications of shifting house foundations include: cracked wall paint, cracked plaster, sagging floors, doors that no longer latch, doors that bind or won't close anymore and windows to start binding. Obviously, keeping gutters clean to avoid foundation problems can prevent large expenses. Especially if your house is built on sloping ground.
Grass is growing in these dirty gutters.
Wet Weather Gutter Cleaning
There are several ways to clean out gutters. Each way has it's pro's and con's. During wet weather, the contents of your gutter are wet. Sometimes, the gutter outlets (the part that goes to your downspout) is plugged and there may be standing water in the gutter. So the outlet is cleared first and the gutter debris held back while the water drains down. (If the downspout is clogged, then I clean it out then) Next, the gutters are scooped out using a gutter scoop and pole (with a "gutter" spoon on the end. As I work the my way down the gutter, cleaning it out, I'll reach the end. Then the gutter is hosed out. The advantage of hosing out the gutter in the rain is that I can see if your gutters slope towards the downspout. They are supposed to. If they don't, then it's tough to hose out the gutter. Pooling water in the gutter gives a place for mostquitoes to breed and wasps to get mud for building nests under your eaves. Pooling water also speeds up the corrosion of the bottom of your gutter. Gutters aren't cheap, so it's best to keep them dry so they last a long time. I try to let you know about improper sloped gutters so they can be fixed in drier weather (easier to do then) to make your gutters last longer.
Dry Weather Gutter Cleaning
During dry weather, if you don't have a really fancy landscape, then gutters can be blown out with a blower. This is much quicker, so you usually get a better rate due to saved labor costs. Blowing out gutters also gets just about everything out of them, but it can be dusty. Afterwards, the walkways are blown off. Gutter debris makes good compost.
After the job of cleaning out gutters is done, I haul away the debris. If you want the gutter debris, let me know. It makes good compost.
I've got some good solid ladders. They have leg-levelers to be able to keep the ladder steady on sloping ground. Also, I use "ladder arms" or "stand-offs" so the ladder can be braced on the roof instead of resting on the gutter. This helps to keep from scratching or denting the gutter face. Most importantly it helps keep the ladder from sliding to the right or left. I'm also insured so that if I damage your home, it's covered. And thankfully I've never had that happen.
Reasons to Have Your Gutters Cleaned
- Safety - Perhaps the biggest reason people pay others to clean their gutters in Portland. I've heard the stories from home-owners:
- They or their neighbor fell from a roof
- They're afraid of heights
- Their wife won't let them go up on the roof
- They were on the roof, the ladder fell down and they had to call their neighbor for help to get back down
- Equipment and Gutter-Cleaning Skills - Another big reason people have their gutters cleaned is because they're not able to do it themselves. Gutter cleaning requires more ladders and equipment than many people have at their home. Some people have a newer home built so closely to another home that it requires hooking up with a rope and harness to reach the gutters because the space is too tight for a ladder.
- Better Results - Paying a professional gets you better results. Your gutters can be cleaned out. But do you know to check for proper gutter slope? How to unclog a downspout? How to keep a downspout from plugging? A professional such as myself can help with all these things. Even finding out which preventative methods for gutters can save you a bundle.
- Preventative Maintenance and Peace of Mind - Some downspouts empty onto the lower roof. This wears off granules and can cause the roof to leak much sooner at this area than the rest of the roof. It also leaves streaks of algae and scum. By looking for these future problem areas, I'm able to give home-owners fore-warning so they can get these things fixed and at least know about them before they become a serious issue.
How Often Gutters Should be Cleaned
Gutters need to be cleaned as often as needed to keep them working. The least expensive time of year to have your gutters cleand is during summer when they can be blown out.
The majority of gutter systems require cleaning once a year. This should be done before the fall rains.
If your house is under a pine tree, you may have to have the gutters cleaned twice a year. Then it is good to have the gutters cleaned before the fall rains and then again halfway through the rest of the year because needles fall year round. If you have your gutters cleaned twice a year, then it is worthwhile looking into either "over-sized" downspouts or gutter filters.
Please be sure to print out this gutter cleaning checklist: gutter checklist
Gutter Cleaning Should Be Done with Care
Cleaning gutters may be difficult if you live in a two story steep pitch roof with dormers or a two story home that doesn't have much room for ladders around it. Unfortunately, many residential grade ladders are not safe on uneven ground especially when placed against the edge of a slippery gutter. As a professional, I have invested in safe equipment for cleaning gutters. I use ladders with leg levelers and "ladder arms" or "standoffs" to help keep the ladder from scratching the gutters. If you are going to clean gutters yourself, I really recommend you invest $25 or so to get some sort of ladder arms. You can find them at Lowe's, Home Depot or other residential home supplier. There are several styles and prices, so you may want to shop around. Ladders can also be rented from some stores. Call ahead to save yourself a trip.
When you hire a professional gutter cleaner, you get so much more. While the gutters are being cleaned out, it is good to know: the slope of your gutters, whether the drip cap is working, if the downspout strainers are in place, whether gutter nails are loose, if ferrules are missing, corners or end caps are leaking, etc. Checking for proper gutter installation and correcting problems may reduce the frequency of gutter cleanings and save you money on home maintenance. For example, a dripping corner may be an annoyance, but can also rot out the fascia or tail rafters on your home. Gutter corners need to also be mechanically secured before caulking. If you are going to caulk the gutter yourself, use a professional grade gutter seam sealer. If you use silicone, it will fail quickly and be a nuisance to remove when you fix it later. All metal needs to be cleaned and dried before sealing. Some sealers require 24 hours to cure without water, so it's best to caulk gutters on dry days.
Another advantage of hiring a helpful service person is having the roof blown off to keep the valleys clean and also look the roof over for potential problems/leaks. That could save you some significant money. Homeowners with tile roofs are especially benefited from this because one broken tile can cause a lot of water damage. You can use a rake and finish cleaning with a hose, but a blower goes much faster and gets the job done better. Some retail stores sell blowers for home owners, but they are usually cheap machines (in my experience) and it's better to go to a landscaping supply store and spend a couple hundred or so (if you're going to) and buy a hand held Shindaiwa blower like the EB212 that will probably last you 10 years or more. It will also work to blow off a wooden deck, your front entry, patios, the lawn etc. It's definitely a worthwhile long term investment.
Unfortunately, most new gutters are built for looks instead of properly doing their job. New advancements (and old) in gutter care technology may allow you to stretch the time between gutter cleanings in areas with fewer leaves and needles. Downspout strainers are an example of this. Sometimes cleaned gutters can plug in a matter of hours or days because of a few mid-size leaves and small downspout openings. Downspout strainers are inexpensive and can prevent paying for another service call. Other possible preventative maintenance solutions include: gutter filters, relocating downspouts, adding downspouts, or enlarging downspouts at existing locations.
The Gutter Cleaning Process
Usually people find my name and number through a referral. Otherwise, it may be a Google search or looking in the Dex Yellow Pages. You can give me a call or send me a quote request through this website. We'll talk on the phone and if I'm home, I'll look at your house through a sattelite image like maps.google.com . Then I'll give you a estimate on the phone based on the answers you give me. If you like the price, I'll come out and give you a fixed price after seeing it in person. I keep my expenses down by just doing one trip. I'm 95% right on when giving quotes over the phone. If you aren't home when I do the work, and you want photos of the guters, just ask me. I'll email them to you, no charge. While there, I'll walk around the house and then do the job. After I'm through, I like to do a walk-a-round with the home owner and tell you what I saw up there. Sometimes some problems areas (if you have any) can be fixed right then and head off any future home maintenance expenses. I'm especially thankful that on many jobs, I save customers more money through preventative work than they pay for my actual services.