CHECKLIST: Fall Maintenance – a Deeper Dive: Gutters, Roofs and Chimneys

Earlier this month, we posted our annual Fall Home Maintenance checklist to make sure you’re ready for the change in season.

This week, we wanted to follow up on that and take a deeper dive into a few specific items on that checklist.

Today, we will go over tips and strategies when it comes to your home’s gutters, roof and chimney(s).

Please note: If you don’t feel comfortable using a ladder, it’s important you call a professional to come and assess the situation, rather than putting yourself in a dangerous situation.

Clean your gutters

Early fall is the ideal time to clean out your gutters because the weather is still nice enough to allow you to climb up and assess the amount of organic matter and debris that has built up since the last cleaning. Now that summer is officially over, if you don’t act quickly to clean out the debris that built up, the weather may be too treacherous and you’ll eventually run into roofing, siding and foundation issues in the months ahead.

Clean gutters help protect your home from water damage by draining it from the roof and funneling it away from the home, to the surrounding drainage systems.

One easy way to check if your gutters are clogged is to wait for a rainy day and look and listen to ensure water is emptying by way of the downspouts. If water isn’t flowing freely or you notice water overflowing from the edges, that means there is blockage preventing it from functioning properly.

To clean the gutters, you’ll need a ladder to climb up and give yourself a good view of the situation. Once you’re up high enough, you can simply use a garden hose or a scoop to remove the debris.

Another thing to look for is holes in the gutters. If you run into anything like that, they’ll need to be plugged or caulked immediately. Loose or disconnected downspouts will also need repair.

Check your roof for damage

Winter is always the toughest month on your roof, but if you assess and repair any damage before freezing weather arrives, it could help prevent issues come January and February.

Openings in your roof covering can easily lead to leaks inside the house as the snow and ice starts to melt, which will result in interior water damage.

If you have a safe and secure ladder, it would be a good idea to now climb up and assess the condition of your roof. If you aren’t comfortable, or don’t own a proper ladder, you can stand back and perhaps use binoculars to try to get a better look before contacting a roofing contractor. Catching the damage as soon as possible is integral to maintaining your roof as you don’t want to leave any needed repairs unattended, since it will result in the problem becoming even worse. You may even be denied insurance coverage, unless you can show you’ve been diligent with needed maintenance.

It’s also important to pay particular attention to metal and other applied flashings. The sheet metal/caulking used to waterproof around chimneys may have shriveled-up and/or peeled away, resulting in problematic and damaging leaks. If you aren’t comfortable taking on this task yourself, a roofing contractor can help.

Maintain your chimney

The last thing you’ll need to check while examining the roof is your chimney, whether metal or masonry.

First, you’ll want to check the chimney cap to see if it’s still secure and not obstructed by any debris.

It’s also important to look for cracks or openings anywhere on the structure, which can lead to leakage and water damage. Small cracks can be repaired with specialized sealants, but larger problems will often require professional assistance.

Tell-tale signs of a leaking chimney include:

  • White, patchy areas on the bricks on the brickwork
  • Foliage or growth coming from the mortar cracks
  • Signs of deterioration/rust
  • A musty, damp smell inside your home
  • Water inside the firebox
  • Ceiling stains in the immediate area below

If you have any questions about how to properly assess your roof, gutters or chimneys, or any other maintenance needs, please contact us at Duxbury & Associates and we can walk you through the process, or give you advice on which other professionals you’ll need to contact to make sure everything is working properly.

About Glenn Duxbury

Duxbury & Associates Building Inspection and Consulting Ltd. has received the 2004 Douglas College Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the ‘Consulting’ category for persistence and pursuit of excellent service delivery to clients by providing very thorough and professional Inspection Reports and dedication to those involved in buying / selling / building / renovating and maintaining uncompromised customer focus.