Learn How To Never Clean Your Gutters Again

An inch of rainfall doesn’t sound like much. But when it falls on an average-size roof, it adds up to a 1,900-gallon torrent sluicing off the eaves. That’s an awful lot of water that can cause an awful lot of damage if your gutters aren’t up to the task of controlling it. Yet we barely give gutters a second thought until they’re clogged and overflowing, or ripped from their moorings by ice and snow.

never clean your gutters again

If you’re starting fresh, there is a veritable deluge of shapes, sizes, and materials to choose from. Aside from pricey, maintenance-heavy wood troughs and short-lived vinyl ones, the best option for most of us is metal—elegant copper, understated zinc, rugged steel, or affordable aluminum. Metal gutters are durable and need relatively little care.

Gutter System

    • Gutter: Captures water shedding off roof.
    • End cap: Closes end of gutter.
    • Fascia bracket: Attaches to eaves; supports gutters from below.
    • Downspout: Conveys water from gutter to ground. Also known as a leader.
    • Downspout bracket: Secures downspout to side of house.
    • Elbow: Changes direction of downspout.

How To Clean Your Gutters

Thoroughly cleaning your home’s gutters every spring and fall will keep them working like they should. Leaves can build up and clog the downspouts, which can cause water damage to your roof and fascia.  Water pouring over the gutters or from leaks can end up next to your home’s foundation, in the basement or crawlspace.

Cleaning your gutters is one of the un-sexiest home maintenance chores you can do. It’s usually dirty, you’re moving the ladder a lot, you’ll likely get wet from flushing the gutters, and it’s not exactly something you can show off once you’re done. Not doing it regularly, though, can spell trouble for your home. If the gutters are too full, water can actually damage the roofing and the fascia. 

Overfull gutters can spell trouble below deck as well, as water pouring over the gutters versus going cleanly down the spouts can mean water getting to your foundation, and possibly into your basement and crawlspace. The torrents can also do a number on your garden beds if they’re right under the gutters.

While it’s a simple task, below I offer a few reminders and perhaps a couple new ideas on how to keep your gutters clean as a whistle, and thus protect your home for years to come.

Twice a year — once each in the spring and fall — is the recommended amount and timing for cleaning your gutters. In my neighborhood though, we have plenty of trees, meaning I’m doing it much more than that. After a big storm, or even just a couple months of wind and rain, I’m up there cleaning them out, even if it’s just to remove a downspout clog. And in the fall alone I do it a couple times as well with the bevy of leaves we get.

It’s far more pleasant to wait until your gutters are dry to clean them out. Otherwise they’re quite mucky, which makes them harder to de-gunk. It’s also not a bad idea to check your gutters before you’re forecasted to get a big storm. I’ve sat in my dining room and watched the rainwater pour over the gutters and into the garden and foundation, which I probably could have prevented by doing a quick 10-minute sweep of even just the spots near the downspouts. Better to do this chore too much and keep your foundation safe than not enough.

Using a small garden trowel, or just your hands with a pair good gloves, scoop out the leaves and sediment, starting at the downspout. In my experience, your hands are a better tool for this job. They’re just all around more maneuverable; getting downspout clogs loosened is far easier with hands than a trowel.

When you’ve cleaned as much as you safely can in one spot, move the ladder on down and repeat the process with all your gutters. Once you’ve got all that you can with your hands, use a hose to flush the finer debris, starting at the end opposite the downspout. Let it run for a minute, and ensure that water is coming cleanly through the spout. If it’s just trickling, you know you still have a clog. In that case, run the hose at high pressure right into the downspout to clear it.

If you’re not the home handyman kind of guy, there are several options for alleviating this chore altogether. There’s a better system available, one that also prevents the clogs that make standard gutters ineffective and eliminates the need for dangerous or pricy gutter cleanings one or more times a year.  

Gutter Protection Systems

Gutter protection systems are designed to keep your gutters clear of the debris that can drift in and jam up your gutters. .Leaves, twigs, and other debris falls from above and blows in the wind, landing on your roof and getting washed right into your gutters during the next downpour.  Here it sits, piling up, until your gutters are so clogged that you’ve got a virtual waterfall pouring down from the eaves.

This is exactly what your gutters are supposed to prevent. It’s essentially a cover for your gutters that features a ribbed surface and a patented nose-forward edge designed to passively channel rainwater into the gutter while encouraging leaves and other debris to slide harmlessly off the edge of the roof.  In short, it’s the perfect solution for any home that perennially requires gutter cleaning due to a glut of leaves, twigs, and debris.

What are the Benefits?

Cleaning your gutters can be a dirty and downright dangerous job.  Installing a gutter protection system can reduce your misery, or alternately, the ongoing expense of hiring someone to clean your gutters annually or even seasonally.  In addition to eliminating clogs it will help you to avoid subsequent damage like pooling and flooding around the foundations of your home, landscape erosion, and the onset of harmful mold and rot.  You’ll also keep insect, rodent, and other pet infestations at bay. An expert roofing Ambler PA contractor could give you the best tips to help you avoid cleaning out you gutters. 

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The Basics on Installing Architectural Shingles On A Hip Roof

Until the 1980s, the most common type of asphalt roofing shingle was the traditional 3-tab which remains an economical choice among homeowners who appreciate its ease of installation and vast array of color blends. During the 1980s, technological advances and changing consumer tastes took asphalt roofing shingles to a whole new level, resulting in architectural laminated shingles. The term “laminated” means that the shingle’s construction consists of two or more basic shingles laminated or bonded together.

installing architectural shingles on a hip roof

Both laminated shingles and traditional 3-tab shingles provide effective protection against wind uplift and blow-off. They also guard against damaging water penetration from wind-driven rain, offering you enhanced protection against the elements and great weatherability. In the roofing industry, laminated shingles are further described as being “architectural” because they’re specially engineered to create architectural interest for the roof by means of the individual shingle’s contour, cut and dimensional thickness. The move from traditional 3-tabs to architectural laminated shingles was mainly an aesthetic evolution.

Architectural asphalt shingles can be made to simulate the impressive, sought-after look of genuine cedar shakes or natural slate tiles without the installation, weight, maintenance, flammability worries (in the case of real wood) and expense associated with genuine wood and stone roofing materials.

Some manufacturers’ lines of architectural laminated shingles are available in quite an array of colors; however, those lines that are designed to mimic the look of genuine wood shakes or natural slate tiles will necessarily be limited to the same color blends as those found in nature; e.g., earthy or reddish browns, light and dark variations of grey to black.

Hip Roofs

Hip roof, also called hipped roof, roof that slopes upward from all sides of a structure, having no vertical ends. The hip is the external angle at which adjacent sloping sides of a roof meet. The degree of such an angle is referred to as the hip bevel. The triangular sloping surface formed by hips that meet at a roof’s ridge is called a hip end. A pyramidal hipped roof, also known as a pavilion roof, is hipped equally at all corners and the hips meet at a single peak, but the more common form of hip roof is above a rectangular structure, where a roof ridge meets two hips at either end.

A variant is the half-hipped or jerkin head roof, which has gable ends truncated by the eaves of a small hip end (or jerkin head) that descends a short distance from the roof ridge. On an irregularly shaped structure, there may be more than four hips, which then may alternate with valleys to form a hip-and-valley roof.

Getting your shingles redone on your hip roof would not only keep your house in great shape for years to come, but also keeps your roof protected from all of the weather elements.

Installing shingles on a hip roof takes more time than having them installed on any other kind of roof. This is because you need to trim and size more shingles for this kind of roof and lay them around the corners.

Laminated Shingles

Architectural shingles is the new kid on the block, and it is revolutionizing the way we work with roofing. They have several advantages which rate them far higher than other types of roofing available in the market today. Let’s take an in-depth look at those benefits.

Improved Design And Customization

The design of these shingles allows for a much more multidimensional design. You can add multiple layers of roofing, and also customize it in a way to make your house stand out among the rest. Someone driving down the road is bound to take notice of how good your roof looks.

Most interior decorators swear by laminated shingles, simply because of the freedom it provides them in creating a look for your house. These shingles can also be used to imitate slate or cedar roofing even without buying original slate roofing. No matter if you’re trying to build a new house or doll up an old house to resell it on the market, laminated shingles always make for a more attractive option.

Durability

We all know how big of a chore it is to get your roof shingles repaired. You have to get up on a ladder, climb up there and then risk your life and limb to fix it. And it’s not a process you can delay, because every day you delay it, rain, and snow can wreak havoc on your house, not to mention birds and small animals coming in and getting stuck. Because of the several layers of asphalt and the superior quality of it, these shingles will last you a good long time. Laminated shingles do a much better job of holding up to inclement weather conditions, like strong winds and continued sunlight. Most shingles can endure wind speeds of up to 110 mph.

They will not blow away nor will they crackle under the extreme heat. Even if a tree or branches fall on the roof, the shingles will not break. They are also entirely fireproof. The constituent components ensure that these tiles never catch fire. They are also resistant to algae or mold.

Long Warranty

Because of their durability, most architectural shingles have warranties which last 30 to 50 years.

This warranty ensures your shingles get replaced if there’s a natural calamity or if there’s ever any manufacturing defect.

Long Term Cost Effectiveness

Although architectural shingles are a more significant investment up front, it will prove to be a lot cheaper over the long run. The initial cost of a laminate shingle will be about 20% more than a 3-tab shingle, but this investment will pay back many times that in the long run. The added durability ensures you don’t have to replace them or call in professionals to repair your roof tiles. They stay as strong and sturdy as the day you got them installed.

Also, if you put in laminated shingles, an appraisal of your house will be much higher, if you ever want to sell your home. Choosing quality over affordability will always pay off in the long run.

In order to get the best out of the installation, hiring a certified and skilled roofing Ambler PA contractor is the best way to go. Installing architectural shingles on a hip roof can be a difficult task for an amateur. Without the right know-how, you might end up with a faulty roof, with improperly installed shingles. 

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The Benefits of Adding a Roof Overhang System

Adequate roof overhangs help shade windows in hot weather and reduce the amount of rain that hits your siding, windows, and doors. Roof overhangs are the amount that the roof hangs over the top of the siding in residential home construction. The siding underneath the overhang is known as the soffit. Overhangs are common in most house designs, providing protection against both wind and rain. The length of the overhang depends primarily on the climate. The longest overhangs are seen in the wettest climates.

adding an overhang to existing roof

Many residential designers pay too little attention to roof overhangs. Roof overhangs have several important functions: they can protect exterior doors, windows, and siding from rain; they can shade windows when solar heat gain is undesirable; and they can help keep basements and crawl spaces dry. A house with improper overhangs can overheat in the summer, can suffer from water entry problems at windows and doors, and can have premature siding rot.

Does your house have a roof overhang? If it does not, you might realize your need for one if you have experienced water in your basement or crawl space. One function of a roof overhang is directing water away from the foundation. A high-quality gutter system is necessary for this as well, but roof overhangs greatly increase a roof’s productivity in this area. A roof overhang also protects the upper portion of your exterior walls that it is attached to from rainfall. In addition, it shades the windows under it from the sun.

If your roof ends right where the walls begin, you might want to think about extending the overhang of your roof. Or you might need to do it in order to solve a tricky foundation problem. On the other hand, you may not have even thought about your roof’s overhangs, but you like the look of the cottage style and want to incorporate it into a more dated and basic ranch-style roofline.

Adding Style

Generous overhangs are a hallmark of an eye-catching style. They are one of those things you might not notice you’re missing if you’re not a designer, but you can see the difference they make in the overall balance in the look of a home. Deeper eave overhangs create the possibility for more style addition in the form of fancy soffits (the underneath part of the overhang) and the kind of custom woodwork extras you would see on Victorian or cottage style homes – like corbels.

Functionality

Roof overhangs are not just eye-pleasing, they are functional. They provide shelter and shade for your home’s windows and siding. They can protect your home and give those exterior elements and longer lifespan.

Easy Install

The good news is that a roof overhang can usually be added without having to change the main structure of your roof – which is a more expensive and all-encompassing job. Rafter extensions would need to be added onto your existing rafters. You can contact and request this from your expert roofing contractor Ambler PA so that you’ll be able to make the necessary additions to your roof. 

Things to Consider

This project is ideal once the lifespan of your roof is near its end as it will be hard to match the color of your existing shingles with this type of addition. If you replace the entire roof after the new overhangs are in place, the extensions will be seamless. You can also take this opportunity to replace worn-out fascia or make it a different color.

On the other hand, if your roof is relatively new, it might be possible to have a very close match in shingle color to your existing shingles, although typically you would want to complete this with a new roof and or roof and siding project

Maximum Length of a Roof Overhang

Two feet is the general maximum length for a typical roof overhang. This will protect a roof from most types of damage. Roof overhangs can extend farther than 2 feet, but beyond this length, they begin to lose structural integrity and require external support. This can make extensive roof overhangs more trouble than they are worth in all but the harshest climates.

A roof overhang is an essential part of your roofing system to protect your house. If you are simply adding function and protection, or if you want to incorporate a new style to update the exterior of your home, a new roof overhang is a good idea. An even better idea is having the best roofing Ambler PA contractor install the extension to your home.

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Comparing the Pros and Cons of Vinyl Siding Over Cedar Siding

The choice between cedar or vinyl siding may not be as easy to make as you think. On one hand, you may have the money in your siding budget and feel that cedar is not only appropriate, but a superior product. However, when you factor in installation requirements and maintenance, you may feel differently. Before deciding, weigh the various factors involved including cost, options, maintenance and lifespan. While cedar is a natural product and certainly very attractive, vinyl is more versatile. Both materials have their strong points and their drawbacks. Ultimately, after looking at the pros and cons, it may be practical considerations that decide it for you.

vinyl siding over cedar siding

What is Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is a durable form of plastic exterior wrapping for a home, used both for aesthetics and weatherproofing. Engineered primarily from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin, vinyl siding is a convenient addition to your home because it precludes the need for painting every few years and other hassles of regular maintenance. Let’s explore other aspects of vinyl siding and the benefits that come with it.

Pros of Vinyl

Siding Vinyl siding is easy to install. Because of this, you can spend less money on installation costs as well. Its color lasts without chipping or flaking. The color is baked through the siding so it will never rub, flake, or wear off. And if your siding becomes scratched, the color will remain the same. Vinyl is inexpensive when compared to other siding choices, offering the lowest cost per square foot.

It will make your home more energy efficient. Because vinyl is often installed over existing siding, it adds another layer of insulation to your home. You can increase this efficiency by purchasing insulated vinyl siding. Newer vinyl sidings are recyclable, so you will not have to worry about replaced siding slowly decomposing in a landfill. Vinyl resists insects, preventing them from burrowing into or eating the siding (as often happens with wood siding).

Cons of Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is not watertight. It needs to be washed once or twice a year, typically using pressure washers. However, the high-pressure water can become trapped under the siding, causing mold or mildew to develop. It will fade to some degree.

This will not be a particularly troubling issue unless you have to replace one piece of the siding. That replacement piece may be a bit brighter or have more gloss to it than the older siding. It can be dented or cracked. The color is permanent, so don’t make a rushed, slapdash decision when you’re choosing between different shades. The vinyl used to make the siding, PVC, can release carcinogens at high temperatures.

What is Cedar Siding

Cedar siding is a natural wood siding made from either red or white cedar, both native trees in the United States. It is a popular wood for home building because it is among the more durable natural woods. Cedar siding often takes the form of horizontal lap panels, shingles or shakes.

Pros of Cedar Siding

Cedar is highly attractive when stained and some varieties, such as white cedar, become increasingly aesthetically pleasing over time. It may be cut into numerous styles, such as beveled or traditional shingles or shakes. It maintains a timeless appeal that most other forms of siding attempt to emulate. This visual appeal is complemented by superior sound and thermal insulation.

Cedar is completely biodegradable, making it an excellent option for green homes. It may easily be painted and stained to acquire the look you desire. It is also suitable for use with almost any architectural style. Unlike most alternatives, cedar is easy to install, making it an excellent DIY project. Properly maintained, cedar siding may last as long as 75 years and may be pre-stained to add additional weatherproofing.

Cons of Cedar Siding

As is the case with other types of wood siding, cedar is flammable unless specially treated. It requires regular maintenance in the form of repainting or re-staining every three to five years. Despite a higher resistance, cedar is still more prone to rot, woodpeckers, and insect damage than artificial alternatives. It reacts to iron, making it important to avoid using iron nails when installing. Finally, the cost may be prohibitive if you are on a budget.
Comparison: Vinyl VS Cedar

Both wood and vinyl siding are available in a range of different styles, which customizes the look of your home’s exterior. This includes traditional, horizontal lap siding, shingles 2, and in some cases, decorative siding. Of the two, wood is definitely more versatile. It can be found in different plank sizes and may be installed in a shiplap or board-and-batten style. Shingles may be installed in straight or irregular patterns. Vinyl siding is more limited in style selection as well as plank sizes and how those planks are installed.

From a distance, both may provide a wood-grain finish to the siding. However, real wood is actually slightly more subtle in the appearance of the grain than the faux grain of vinyl. In addition, vinyl siding has seams where one plank overlaps the next, which are slightly more visible than that of wood siding because wood planks tend to sit flush together rather than overlap.
If vinyl is being used as a rainscreen, it cannot have insulation in this area. To truly insulate the home, foam panel insulation should be considered beneath any siding because the siding itself does not insulate. While neither material can be truly called low maintenance, vinyl requires less maintenance than wood. Wood siding peels over time, which means that it must be scraped and repainted regularly to prevent issues such as wood rot.

Vinyl siding does not require sanding, scraping, or repainting, so it can be considered lower maintenance than wood. The material has drawbacks from a maintenance standpoint, however, including the fact that the boards may easily detach and drop off the house, requiring them to be put back on frequently. Boards may also crack or warp, which means that they need to be replaced.

If wood siding is maintained every five years or so, it can last for 20 to 40 years or more. However, if not well-maintained, its lifespan decreases because rot could set in. Vinyl can easily last 40 or more years, making it more durable in terms of longevity.

Wood siding is often susceptible to some types of wood-eating insects or pests. Some types of wood siding are less vulnerable than others, and the wood may be treated to help prevent this.
Vinyl siding is not susceptible to damage from wood-eating insects or pests because it is made from a type of plastic. If there are gaps in the vinyl, however, pests may still enter and eat the home’s wood frame where it is less noticeable.

Neither wood nor vinyl is considered particularly soundproof. No siding will make a significant change in the amount of sound that you hear. Cladding an ICF block home with either wood or vinyl siding or using some type of foam insulation beneath the siding can have a significant reduction in sound for your home, but putting either siding over a wood frame will not.

When it comes to temperature changes, wood swells and contracts slightly with humidity in the air. For areas that see extreme humidity changes, this could eventually warp the wood.

Vinyl is not impacted by humidity, but it is affected by temperature. Vinyl siding cracks in extreme cold. It can also grow brittle and crack as it ages in areas that see extreme highs and lows throughout the year. In locations with high temperatures, the material may soften and melt. This is true of any type of heat, whether from the sun, a grill placed too close, or light reflecting off a nearby window coated with low-emissivity (Low-E). In some cases, the vinyl siding can melt a small amount and warp, and in severe cases, it may require complete replacement.

Of the two materials, wood is slightly better for the environment. When harvested with good forest protection plans, wood has a lower impact on the environment than vinyl. This is because wood siding can be easily disposed of and will not sit in landfills for years.

Vinyl is a type of plastic, so during its manufacturing, it can release harmful chemicals into the air as well as use enormous amounts of energy to produce it. While it can be recycled, it is very difficult to find recycling centers that accept it. So, leftover material or old siding often sits in landfills, without breaking down.

Cedar is naturally attractive, but it is high maintenance. It lures woodpeckers and requires somewhat frequent repair and refinishing. On the other hand, vinyl is intrinsically cheaper. If you want authentic siding and can afford the cost of buying and maintaining it, go with cedar. If, however, you are interested in siding with the lowest amount of work required to keep it looking nice, vinyl is definitely the way to go. Whichever type of siding you decide to go with, be sure to have it installed by skilled roofing Ambler PA contractors to make the most out of all the benefits that each type of siding offers.

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