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Time for a gutter inspection

After a long, dry, gorgeous summer here, this week’s rain brought us back to the reality that fall is on its way.

And as every schoolchild knows, that means falling leaves! Likely you have already noticed them in the streets, your yard and maybe even your gutters!


As we’ve said many a time, you want to have your gutters and downspouts undamaged and clear of debris so that they can capture the rain from your roof and convey it to the ground. But the gutters and downspouts can’t do their job properly when they’re damaged, leaking, missing or blocked with leaves or needles.

While more leaves will be coming soon, grab a sunny moment and check your gutters now, scooping out any debris. You will likely have to do this chore again this fall, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor now, potentially saving you from rainwater running down the side of your home and creating moisture issues. (Remember safety first and use a ladder stand off to make sure your ladder is more stable.)

While you are clearing your gutters of leaves, needles and other debris, take a close look to see if they need to be repaired, re-secured or even replaced. We recommend screens for your gutters. It’s one sure-fire way to get a lot less foliage piling up in the gutters, which causes subsequent leaking, dripping, etc. that can affect your siding.

The screening, which is simply a fine metal mesh, can be bought at home improvement stores – just ask for gutter guards. Once you have it, install it so that one side is tucked under the edge of the roofing and the other is held in place by gravity at the far edge of the gutter. (This keeps it in securely, but allows you to easily remove it when you want to clean out the dirt, grime and little stuff that slips through into the gutter and accumulates over time.)There are many versions of gutter guards to choose from. Some are not effective for tree needles.

This is the time to check your downspouts too. Downspouts working in proper order also help prevent water damage to the windows, doors, siding and trim of your house! You can also easily plug any leaks you find with the proper gutter sealant.

In addition, make sure to have splash blocks or pipe extensions at each downspout. They help convey the rainwater away from your foundation or basement. They should be at least two feet from the foundation, but farther is better.


Those leaves and branches don’t just end up in people’s yards, roofs and gutters; they also end up on streets and roads where the storm drains are located.

That fact gives us all an opportunity to do a quiet good deed by keeping an eye out for leaves, debris – and yes, even garbage – in sewer grates along the street serving our home, block and neighborhood. Keeping them clear helps prevent the sewer grates from becoming blocked, with water building up. The resulting huge puddles can make driving treacherous and street parking annoying, not to mention the possibility of unnecessary flooding.

The city crews can’t possible get to all the grates on all the streets every day – especially during all the coming downpours and leaf falls.

We suggest driving in a tall stake at the edge of the grass above the grate near your home so you know where it is if it becomes covered by water and wet leaves or litter.

If each of us can keep an eye out for those street drains near our house – and keep a rake handy to clear them – it’s just one of those ways we can take a few minutes to help ourselves and keep our city crews on the bigger expensive issues.


Can you believe we are talking about painting again? It truly is one of the best ways to protect your house from slower disasters—like mold, mildew and rot. But, having a well-painted, well caulked house can also help you avoid wind-driving rain getting into your house and ruining windowsills, floors and walls.

It isn’t too late in the year to paint, as long as you remember to start later in the day and end earlier and well before the evening cool-down and fog start.

Even if you don’t tackle the whole house, as long as you stick with the same color, perhaps just paint the side of the house that gets the most weather!

However if you’ve painted in the last few years and the house is looking good, don’t jump ahead to the next section yet! A good annual wash with 30-Second cleaner and a hose will still make a positive difference.

Ever notice how quickly grime can accumulate on vinyl siding? Guess what, that same dirt, grime and mold is also likely covering your wooden exterior. And that dirt begins to harbor vegetation and mold that if left alone can feed on your paint and even the wooden siding, compromising the integrity of your home and inviting moisture to enter. For that reason alone, it’s worth it to wash your house. Besides, you’ll be surprised at the marked difference in appearance a good scrub can make. (You don’t realize how dirty it is until you clean it up.)

A good house washing doesn’t need to take long – especially if you make it a two-person job. One of you applies the 50/50 mix of 30 Second Cleaner to water solution and the other person takes a boat brush or soft scrub brush on an extension pole and scrubs. Then, about – well, 30 seconds later – and you rinse it off away from the dry wall you will do next. Work low to high on each wall.

If you don’t particularly like to paint, all the more reason to give your house regular scrubs – it will extend the life of your paint job, saving you time, money and hassle.

And just to remind you, we loan out painting equipment free of charge. Give us a call at (360) 533-7828 if you’d like to borrow our brushes, pump sprayer, ladder stand-off (but not ladders), paint scrapers, etc. to wash, prep or paint your house. Sorry, no power washer or paint sprayers.


We know that fall isn’t the best time to prune many plants. However, for your house’s sake, consider some key reasons to trim back foliage. The plants we are concerned about are trees that either pose a potential threat to your house or foundation from roots or are touching any part your house in a wind storm.

Are there any trees, shrubs, even flowers and grass that have direct contact with any part of your house? Just having plants touching the house encourages – once again – the growth of mold and mildew, which can begin consuming your paint, siding or windows and trim.

We recommend that all foliage of any kind be a good 12 inches or more from touching the house. This will help circulate air around the exterior of the home which helps prevent mold issues.

Those beautiful limbs left too close to power lines, your house, garage, shop or other structures can become an ugly nightmare if they come crashing down in a storm.

Also, as we well know here, flood waters and wind storms can topple a whole tree – particularly an older one, a rotted one, a sick one or one with shallow or damaged roots. So, take a look at your situation. Is there any part of any tree that could threaten your house given a weather event? It may seem like a hassle, but it is easier and so much safer to prevent a problem.

Depending on the size and type of tree you are dealing with, its removal or pruning might require an expert for safety’s sake.

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