How To Prepare Your Gutters for a Hurricane

When hurricanes are on the horizon, it’s more important than ever to ensure your gutters are ready to take on the upcoming deluge of water. Gutters help protect your roof, walls, lawn, and foundation from heavy rainfall and overflow, so hurricane-proofing them is a must. In this article, we’ll go over all the basic steps to preparing your gutters for hurricanes. 

Clean Out Your Gutters ASAP 

Debris like leaves, branches, animal refuse, and general gunk from surrounding trees can build up in your gutters, creating blockages. If your rain gutters are clogged, they won’t be able to direct the massive amounts of water hurricanes can throw at you. If you haven’t cleaned your gutters since last fall, or even worse, last spring, it’s time to get a ladder and scoop. There are a few ways you can clean your gutters: 

  • Leaf blower: You can use a leaf blower to blast the debris out of your gutters. Remember that this can send leaves, twigs, and anything else unpleasant inside your gutters flying everywhere. Wear protective safety gear like eye protection, a dust mask, gloves, and long sleeve clothes when using a leaf blower. 
  • With a scoop: One of the most effective ways to clean out gutters is with a quality scoop. You can pick up a gutter scoop at most home improvement stores, but if you can’t get one, a hand trowel or child sandbox shovel also works.
  • By hand: Some gutters are difficult to get leaf blowers or scoops into, so your best option is to buy a thick set of gloves and manually scoop everything out. This method can be the most hazardous, as gutters can have some nasty stuff in them, so don’t skip out on quality gloves. Make sure they’re thick, long, durable, and waterproof. 

After you get most of the debris out of your gutter system, you can use a hose to rinse out the remainder of the gunk. 

Check for Damage and Loose Connections

While cleaning out your system, you should take the time to check for any damage to individual pieces. If a portion of your gutters is damaged or worn down, they will not be able to function optimally, and this could lead to further damage or significant leaks. While inspecting, check for any of the following: 

  • Openings between the connector and gutter section 
  • Loose nails or gutter screws
  • Broken, dislodged, or missing end cap 
  • Loose or disconnected brackets 
  • Sagging section and loose hangers 
  • Cracking, rust, chipped paint, etc. 
  • Broken or faulty seals 
  • Gaps between the wall and fascia
  • Gaps between the gutters and the edge of the shingles

You can fix most of these issues at home, but you should call a professional for more serious damage, such as a collapsed gutter. 

Check for Leaks and Seal Them

One final step before giving your gutters the stamp of approval is to check the overall drainage of the system. Gutters can have many small gaps, holes, or clogs that can be easily overlooked. You’ll ideally want a second person for this job, but you can do it alone in a pinch.

  1. You will want to get on your ladder while carefully carrying a garden hose. Turn the hose on and begin to fill your gutters with water. 
  2. At this point, if you have a partner, have them walk along the gutters looking for leaks. 
  3. While up at the top of the gutters, you should check the water flow’s speed. If the water travels at a normal pace, you’re good to go. If the water drains slowly, your spout may have a clog. 
  4. If you don’t have a partner, carefully descend the ladder and walk along the gutters, checking for any leaks as the remainder of the water drains. 
  5. If you encounter any leaks, you’ll want to seal them or outright replace the gutter section. 

Gutter cleaning can be challenging in its own right. This video by Home Depot does a great job of explaining how to repair basic damage to a gutter system.

Reduce Post Hurricane Cleanup With Proactive Pruning

Hurricanes can cause a mess, especially when gutters are involved. When faced with the high winds of a hurricane, overhanging trees can result in leaves, seeds, pollen, and even entire tree limbs falling into your gutters. Worse, if the strong wings pull off large enough limbs, it can result in denting, broken gutter sections, or even a full collapse. To help prevent this, make sure to judiciously trim back your overhanging tree limbs before the hurricane hits. You might also consider grabbing some gutter guards. These will help keep any flying debris from the hurricane from getting inside your system.

Keep an Eye on Window Wells

One important thing for homeowners to keep an eye on when the storm hits is window wells. If your downspouts let out right next to your home, the water may still flow down into these wells. To help avoid this, use a downspout extender to direct water flow further away from your home. During the storm, heavy rains may result in a flooded window well even if your gutters are directing water properly. A flooded window well can lead to problems, the most severe of which is a flooded basement and water damage. Your best method for protecting your window well is a good window well cover.

Final Thoughts

Checking your gutters might be the last thing on your mind during storm season. But, this system is arguably one of the most important, as it keeps large amounts of water from pooling along your foundation and walls. Good, seasonal gutter maintenance will help reduce the amount of hurricane prep you will need to make, so never forget to clean your gutters twice yearly, once during the spring and fall. Furthermore, if you suspect your gutters or roof sustained damage from strong winds, getting a roof inspection might be a good idea to help identify potential future water damage.

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