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Home Matters

How to prepare your gutters for the upcoming season

Rain, rain go away! That is, go away from the exposed portions of my house. Back in June, we talked about taking advantage the nice weather and replacing an old or failing gutter system. Well, summer has come and gone and it's time to start thinking about what to do if your gutters are in need of repair or replacement. Pete and I talked with Leland Dent of Pelican Home Improvements about some of the options that home owners have when undertaking a gutter repair project. As it turns out, I get to play resident expert on what can happen to a home without gutters in the Pacific Northwest during the winter.

Let's recap really quickly the dangers of failing gutters. There is first and foremost, the potential for severe water damage not only in the exterior walls of your home, but also in sub-level rooms of your house. Water damage can be costly as it may require extensive remodel to fix damage to structural components of your house; not to mention how attractive stagnant water can be to insects.

To add to some of the doom and gloom, winter can have a distinct impact on unprotected homes. To put this into context; last summer my son and I painted the exterior of our house. In the process, we removed our gutters, which needed to be replaced anyway. In the midst of a busy schedule, we never got around to replacing the gutter system, and come winter we ended up with something that looked like what you see here. Yikes! At this point, you're dealing with roof damage, and even a legitimate concern for personal safety.

Now that I've hopefully convinced you not to follow my example, what are your options for gutter repair? Start with the simple fix. Inspect your current system- are there holes? Is drainage blocked? Are the gutters coming away from the side of the house? These are basic questions you should ask, and are fairly easy problems to solve in limited quantity. When repairing gutters, make sure you have a sturdy ladder, and ideally someone to spot you. If you have a multi-story home, you might consider renting a man lift. Small holes can be fixed with commercial gutter sealant like Parbond (just make sure you know what kind of material your sealant is rated for). Similarly, blockages can be removed quickly and loose gutter can be refastened, either by tightening the existing hardware, or replacing it if failing.

On to the more costly scenario: new gutters. It can be difficult to shell out a few thousand dollars for new gutters, but hopefully the image above will convince you of the necessity. Owners have a few routes they can go when buying new gutters. Metal gutters including steel or copper are always the obvious option although more popular nowadays is composite gutter systems with some type of guard. Something like Versaguard™ is a great option.

"Installation is easy and fast. Shingles are never touched, so roof warranties are not voided. Birds, hornets or bees can't get in and build a nest, which happens with many of the inferior covers. No color matching is necessary." Like Leland says, this a great system, and will really help take the headache out of maintaining your gutters. Remember, the phrase that by now has become our motto, you get what you pay for.

Whatever route you choose to take, make sure you take some time to compare products. Don't wait until something catastrophic happens to replace your gutters. Save yourself some time, money, and headache and learn from my example- maintain your gutters! For a great alternative look at what Leland Dent and Pelican Home Improvements have to offer at www.guttersofseattle.com.

Rob White, Home Matters Host
Rob co-hosts Home Matters on the new 97.3 KIRO FM Weekends.
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