November 12th, 2013
According to the City of Portland, there are 236,000 trees lining the streets of our city. If each of the counted trees produces 200,000 leaves a year, that means Portlanders must clear away a whopping 47 billion leaves every autumn. Of course, not all of the trees are deciduous (meaning they lose their leaves in the fall), but with the unknowable thousands of trees planted off-street on Portland properties, there are likely to be billions more leaves out there – cluttering sidewalks, obscuring the patio furniture, and clogging gutters.
Raking or blowing leaves takes care of your on-the-ground tree litter problem, but what about those gutters? Many Portland homeowners may be tempted to let the rain do the work of washing away stuck leaves, but we all know that this won’t work the majority of the time. We’re talking 47 billion leaves here!
Your gutter system exists to swiftly and efficiently move water from your roof to Portland municipal storm drains. When leaves or other debris clog your gutters, they can’t do their work and water ends up flowing everywhere you don’t want it.
Although we like to fondly refer to rain as “liquid sunshine” here in the Portland area, in fact it can be one of the most damaging substances to your home if it gets under the shingles, into the walls and down into the foundation. Roof leaks, mold and mildew, foundation cracks, landscape erosion, even insect infestations can all be prevented by regular gutter cleaning. As a top Portland real estate agent, I’m always amazed to find out how much damage these little gutters can cause.
A number of local Portland companies will gladly get up on your roof and scoop out those leaves if you’re not into it. But, if you’re up for a weekend project, there’s nothing like knowing you’re getting a big return on your investment of time in terms of home repair savings down the road.
You don’t need any special equipment to clean your own gutters, either. Timing is important, though. You don’t want to go through all the effort of cleaning your gutters only to have to start over again after your neighbor’s tree dumps another load on you during a wind storm. Waiting to long, on the other hand, can have you on the roof in the rain, increasing the risk of slipping. Pick a dry day when most of the trees around your house have lost the majority of your leaves.
When that perfect day arrives, grab a trash bag and maybe some rubber gloves and try to get on your roof on a dry day to avoid slipping. After you’ve scooped out what you can by hand, use a garden trowel to scrape out the rest.
Now it’s time for the test. Grab a partner for this part. One of you will bring a garden hose up to the roof and use it to rinse out the gutters, then direct water into the downspout, the pipe that carries water from the open gutter on your roof down to the ground. Your partner will tell you if the water is actually coming out the other end, or if there’s a blockage causing it to back up.
If your downspout seems clogged, use a plumbing snake to remove the debris and repeat the rinsing process.
That’s it! Now you’re ready for winter, and your home is too. Best of all, whether you pay someone to clean your gutters or do it yourself, you’ve prevented damages and saved yourself a bundle. If you want to put those savings toward a second Portland home, give your Portland real estate agent a call.