Maintaining Your Drainage System and Downspout Extenders
Once your gutters and downspouts have been fitted properly and are directing all runoff water safely away from your home, it's only a matter of occasional maintenance to keep any problems at bay. Here are some tips:
Regular cleaning of your gutters is necessary. The weight of backed-up water and debris could damage the structure of gutters, bending them and creating leaks. Water trapped in gutters will also freeze, destroying watertight seals that glue sections of gutter or downspouts together.
To clean your gutters, scoop out debris using a garden trowel starting at the low end, near the entrance to a downspout, and work your way to the higher end. This is to prevent debris from pushing down into downspouts. As dirt is removed, make sure to remember where any leaks or damaged areas are located so they may be fixed once the cleaning is done.
Many people find installing leaf screens and leaf strainers an effective way to reduce the amount of debris that gets trapped in the gutters and downspouts. Leaf screens can be fitted over gutters, and leaf strainers (sometimes called “spiders”) over drop outlets.
Fill any holes with roofing cement, feathering it down on the sides to keep it from obstructing the water flow. Use burlap or glass fabric patches to cover larger holes, gluing them flat down and applying another smooth coat over the patches with roofing cement to secure their placement.
When you're finished, pour a bucket of water into the gutter at the highest end to flush it out. At this time, you can also note how the water flows down to the downspouts, making sure that the slant is at a degree at which no pooling appears and is suitable to drain all runoff water. For proper alignment, support brackets can simply be tightened or repositioned if necessary. If water gets behind the gutters and is damaging the walls of your house, drip edges can be installed to direct the water into the gutters rather than running down and underneath the edges of your roof.
Downspouts should also be cleaned on a regular basis. By inserting a garden hose with an adjustable nozzle up into the downspout and turning the water up to full strength, the pressure should loosen and clear the debris. For more compacted debris, a drain auger can be used.
When cleared, water can again be poured into the downspout to check for any leaks to seal with roofing cement.
The downspout should be securely fastened to the house with strapping irons and lag screws; tighten when necessary.
Splash Blocks and Downspout Extenders or Extensions
At the bottom of downspouts, water can be diverted away from your home by splash blocks and a runoff water path, or a downspout extender/extension.
Splash blocks are easy to maintain, as they only require to be re-leveled regularly. As pressure from water hits them constantly, splash blocks tend to sink into the ground. Simply dig them out, repack the earth in which they stood, and plant them back in.
Additionally, the path on which runoff water is directed to from the splash block should be maintained. All obstructions such as leaves or twigs must be removed to keep water flowing safely away from your home.
If your home is fitted with downspout extenders, make sure that these attachments are watertight. Ideally, the extensions should discharge water a minimum of 4 feet from your home. It is sometimes a nuisance to have such extensions lying around your home. As an alternative, you may want to consider retractable downspout extenders.