Fall can be one of the most beautiful times of the year when all of the leaves start to change. While all of those leaves may be pretty to look at, they can also wreak havoc on your gutters and outdoor drains. Here is some information on how seasonal autumn leaves can affect your drains and gutters and how to prevent it.
The Risk of Clogged Gutters and Drains
Gutters, downspouts, and outdoor drains channel water away from your home. If any of your drains get clogged, it may result in water pooling up around your foundation. Clogged gutters may spill over, creating new places along your roofline where water falls. During a large rain event, this could cause your basement or crawl space to collect. If your gutters are clogged with leaves to where water can’t flow out of them, they can potentially become heavy enough that they rip away from the roof. The good news is that all of these issues are usually quite easy to prevent.
Clean Your Gutters Frequently
Cleaning up the leaves in your yard is important for preventing outdoor drains from clogging, but it won’t have any effect on all of the leaves that fall or get blown into your gutters. Leaves are by far the biggest contributor to clogged gutters and downspouts so it’s important that you also clean out your gutters frequently throughout the fall months.
This is something you can easily do on your own, but you do need to take precautions as climbing up on a ladder to reach your gutters can be dangerous. If you’re not comfortable with climbing up to your roof or don’t own an extension ladder, you can always hire someone to clean your gutters for you. There are also a variety of different tools available that can allow you to clean most of the leaves out of your gutters from the ground. Some of them are essentially just long telescoping handles with a hook attachment that allows you to scoop the leaves out, and there are also special leaf-blower and hose attachments designed for the same purpose.
Upgrade Your Gutters With Leaf Guards
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of having to constantly clean leaves out of your gutters, you should definitely consider having a gutter blocker or leaf guard installed on your roof. There are a wide variety of leaf guard systems available, but they all work the same way by creating a barrier that will prevent the vast majority of leaves from getting inside the gutters.
The most effective leaf guards are usually made of metal and are installed directly over the top of the existing gutter in a way that they still allow water to drain down into the gutter while keeping all of the leaves out. Some are a curved piece of metal that sits above the gutter so that there is just a small opening between the guard and the gutter for the water to flow into. Other guards are essentially just a metal mesh or grate that is mounted on top of the gutter. If you live in an area where you have pine or fir needles instead of larger leaves, be sure that the mesh size is large or small enough to avoid trapping those needles on the exterior of the gutter guard.
There are also some other design options for leaf guards. This includes foam and brush guards that you simply slide down into the gutter. Brush guards are fairly effective at keeping leaves out, but some smaller debris may still get stuck in the brushes. As such, you will usually need to remove the brushes occasionally and spray them off with a hose to remove all of the debris. Foam guards tend to be more effective than brushes, but they are prone to shrinking and freezing during the winter so they will usually only last a few years before needing to be replaced.
Gutter guards can be suggested and installed by a professional company if you don’t wish to do this yourself. The advantage of this is that you get advice on the best option for your home and you often get a cleaning with the installation.
Flush Out Your Downspouts
Downspouts are also prone to clogging since all of the water flowing through the gutters can wash lots of leaves down into them. The best way to prevent this is to regularly flush the downspouts out using a hose with a spray nozzle. If possible, you’re best to feed the hose and nozzle as far down the gutter as you can to ensure you flush all of the leaves out. Again, this will require using a ladder and climbing up on the roof so it may be something you want to hire someone to do.
If your downspouts clog regularly, there are attachments at the base of the downspout that you can install to make clean-outs easier. These attachments have accessible doors where the downspout meets your drain that you can open to check for and pull out any debris.
Use Drain Covers to Keep Leaves Out
You can also find specially made drain covers designed to keep leaves and other debris out of stormwater drain grates, trench drains and other outdoor drains. Be certain to choose a drain cover that will prevent the largest items from going down but that won’t get easily clogged. You will still need to clean all of the leaves off of the cover regularly or else it could become clogged and prevent water from flowing into the drain and flowing into other parts of your property.
Ground-based leaves may affect the drainage ability of your French drains, so be certain to keep your yard, particularly the top of the French drain, clear of leaf piles.
Schedule an Annual Drain Cleaning Service
One of the best options for preventing clogs is simply to have all of your outdoor drains professionally cleaned at the start of fall. trench drains are something you can usually clean on your own as most of them have removable covers. On the other hand, French drains are something you’ll need to have a professional clean since these use pipes buried underground and then covered with a layer of rocks or gravel. Typically, the most effective option for cleaning French drains is hydro jetting, which uses a special machine that sprays a high-powered jet of water into the pipe to blast away any dirt, mud, leaves and other debris.
At Davis & Green, we offer professional drain cleaning services and can help ensure you don’t have to deal with clogs this fall. We can also help if you need other services like sewer, plumbing, heating, air conditioning or electrical work performed. For more information on our drain cleaning services in Richmond, contact us today.