Spring Cleaning – Remember The Gutters

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Spring Cleaning

By Chuck Johnson

As we enter March, we begin to see our neighbors outside inspecting their yard and home looking for what needs to be renewed, repaired, replaced or cleaned after a long harsh winter.

With this the home improvement stores start buzzing again and the sound of yard maintenance usually signal that spring has arrived. The usual sales for fertilizer and deck sealants abound, as homeowners know the importance of getting an early start on their lawns to prevent weeds, and to seal the deck to prevent major damage from the rain and snow.  What most homeowners don’t know is that one of the most important items to be maintained this time of year will require them to look up at the rain gutters.

While you walk around your lawn picking up branches and raking leaves that fell from winter wind gust and snow, remember if it landed on the ground it probably also landed on your roof and in your gutters.  Failure to keep your gutters functioning will cause the same damage to your roof and fascia wood that rain and snow will cause to your deck if not properly maintained.  If you would not wait until late spring to start your lawn care, why would you wait to maintain your gutters?

Spring Cleaning The Gutter Guys

 

So even if you had your gutters cleaned in the fall, early spring is the time to get the first cleaning and inspection of your rain gutters, to protect your home from the damaging effects of water.  Call The Gutter Guys for a fast free estimate to get your gutters cleaned and inspected.

For a fast free estimate contact us or call 1-800-GUTTER-1.

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We were thrilled with The Gutter Guys in West Chester

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

We were thrilled with The Gutter Guys system. Initial presentation was intelligent and informative. Beautiful job…our property was left impeccably clean. Gutter Guys came highly recommended. We couldn’t be happier.

Nancy M West Chester, PA

Hiring a Gutter Company

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

I have previously written about when you should have your rain gutters cleaned and who should clean your gutters.  The previous post were an introduction and summarized the topic of gutter maintenance, in this post I will go into more detail on how to hire a company that knows how to do the job right, identify the risks of hiring the wrong company, and minimize your exposure to an unqualified contractor working on your home.

Risk of hiring an unqualified Gutter Cleaning Company

You may say to yourself “They are only cleaning my gutters, what risk could I have?  If you hire an unqualified company there is a lot of risk.  If the company you hire is not insured to be on your roof and or be on ladders, and their “employee” gets hurt while working on your home you could be legally liable for his medical expenses and if there are permanent injuries or worse, you could be liable for future compensation. See Legal Match article.  The other exposure is if the contractor does not carry adequate general liability insurance and causes damage to your property or your neighbor’s property.  How can this happen? Murphy’s Law, ladder leaning on home, ladder falls hits car, window, fence, patio furniture, neighbor’s house, etc.. Ladder comes into contact with electrical wire, starts fire.  While these situations do not happen often, they do happen and if your Gutter Cleaning Company does not have general liability insurance you can and will be liable for the damages.

The next item you should check is to see if the company you hire is licensed in the state where the work will be done.  I say it that way because often a contractor may be licensed in one state and not licensed in an neighboring state.  Quite often contractors will work in states that they are not licensed in, each state requirements for licensing is different, and often any protections the customer may have by hiring a licensed contractor is lost if the work is not being done in the state that issued the license.

What is the expertise, motivation of the company doing the work?  Roofers, siding, window and landscaping companies offer gutter cleaning as a service their company provides.  It is not in your best interest to hire a company that is not a full services gutter company. Landscapers often offer it as part of the fall clean up of the yard debris, it can help extend the seasonality of their business.  However, they are rarely insured to be on ladders or roofs. Roofers, siding and window contractors usually use gutter cleaning promotions as a method of inspecting your property for the work they really want to do, new roof, window and siding installations.  Will any of these companies know if your gutters have other problems besides being clogged?  Will they be able to tell if your gutters are properly pitched, secured, or in need of replacement?

The company reputation for service is important.  Do they answer the phone when you call them? Are they open year round? How long have they been in business?  I know you are thinking it is only a gutter cleaning.  What you have to start thinking is that the company you hire to clean your gutters is really working on your “HOME”!  Do not hire a company that will but your home at risk, either from not doing the job right and you suffer damage to your property because the gutters overflow and you suffer water damage or hiring a company that is not adequately insured or licensed.

To protect yourself and your “HOME” before you hire a company to clean your gutters below is a check list:

  1. Get a copy of the certificate of insurance showing that they are insured to work on ladders and that the coverage includes both liability and workers compensation.  And if they use subcontractors you will need to get copies from both the contractor and the subcontractor
  2. Check with state regulatory authority for proper license and registration
  3. If doing gutter work is not prominently displayed as part of the services they provide, on their vehicles, uniforms, or business cards, they are not a full service gutter company
  4. Customer service,  hire a professional company that has been around, you have seen working in your neighborhood

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Gutter Protection, What is it?

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

by Chuck Johnson

Gutter Protection, What is it?

Leaves in Gutters | The Gutter Guys

Photo By Kate Mereand via Wikimedia Commons

As autumn begins the season for gutter maintenance and protection goes in to fast motion.  Some homeowners want their gutters cleaned every month, others want to wait until the last leaf has fallen.  While any frequency of maintaining your gutters is better than not maintaining your gutters at all, there are now products that claim to eliminate this chore.  As there are hundreds of products and names for the various types of gutter protection in the market, most review sites focus on the design or material they are made of to compare the products and usually focus on 4 to 6 designs; screens, filters, helmet type, brushes and foam are common descriptions of products.  I believe that most of these can be combined in to two types but will add a third louvered for our descriptions and opinion.  The most important feature to look for in a product is design, will the design function in such a way that allows the rain water in to the gutter while keeping the gutters and the gutter protection from getting clogged. The material the gutter protection is made of will determine how durable a product is; remember durable material will not make a poor design work.  So many products made from the same material, i.e.; aluminum will not function the same way.

Screens/Filters/Foam and Mesh

This category includes brushes, foam, mesh, screens and filters. While they may not look similar and are designed from different materials such as plastic, aluminum, stainless steel and nylon, they have the same flaw.  The common principle in all these designs is that they claim to keep debris out of the gutter by various method of having holes small enough that debris will not pass through.  The flaw in this category is that the holes in the gutter protection will get clogged which will prevent water from getting in to the gutter and cause the same problems as clogged gutter. There is no way to tell how long it will take for the holes to get filled, but the smaller the hole (foam, filters and mesh) usually the quicker it will clog, as some small debris that would normally wash down the downspout such as pollen dust or shingle granular can and will get caught in the filters, foams and mesh.   As the holes get bigger (screens and brush) they allow the small debris through until the bigger debris, leaves and leaf particles clog the holes. Some of these products claim to be made from space age technologies that allow them to not get clogged, it is my belief that if air will clog your air filter in your car or home, and clean water will clog a water filter in your refrigerator, eventually all filters will clog.

Gutter Protection | The Gutter GuysClogged Gutters | The Gutter GuysTypes of Gutter Protection | The Gutter Guys

 

 

 

 

 

So instead of a clogged gutter you have a clogged screen, filter or foam gutter system.  This category may reduce the frequency of maintenance in the beginning but should be considered a temporary solution.

Helmet Like

This category may additionally be called; horizontal opening, nose forward, covers or helmet like.  The design of the products in this category is very similar as many of them are spin offs from products no longer protected by U.S. patents.  Although they look similar, they are made from different materials, usually aluminum, plastic or vinyl.  There are some design variations, i.e.; seamless covers, double reverse curves and a combination screen and reverse curve.  The design principle for this category is that (liquid) water will adhere to a solid surface and solid debris will not. So as the rain water comes off your roof it will adhere to the gutter cover with a reverse curve at the front of the gutter and drop into the gutter following the reverse curve.  The physics of this design is accurate for the rain water.  Unfortunately, it is inaccurate for the debris floating in the water.

Helmet Type Gutter Guard | The Gutter Guys

Helmet Type Gutter Protection | The Gutter GuysGutter Guards | Gutter Protection | The Gutter Guys

 

 

 

 

 

While dry debris does not have the surface adhesion properties as rain water, the debris floating in the rain often will not separate at the point of the reverse curve, and will float with the water into the gutter.  As this debris flows toward the downspout you have the beginning of a clogged gutter.  Once again there is no way to determine how long it will take for a clog to occur, but when the clog occurs there often is no easy way to clean the system short of removal.

Louvered/GutterGard

This category starts with a design principle of surface adhesion similar to the reverse curve, but replaces the horizontal opening with staggered louvered openings that have a similar volume opening allowing the rain water to flow to the gutter and keeping floating debris large enough to clog your downspout out.  This design is made from copper or 25 colors of aluminum to match your roof or existing gutters to insure its durability.

Louvered Gutter Protection | The Gutter GuysGutterGard | Gutter Protection | The Gutter Guys

 

 

 

While some products claim they are maintenance free, there is no such product out there in gutter protection or anything else. This design will handle all the rain, and in the event that pollen or leaves were to block a louver you can safely and easily brush the debris away.  If your objectives in gutter protection are to keep your gutters clog free and to safely maintain your gutters from the ground, GutterGard is the product that will permanently solve your gutter maintenance needs.

 

For a fast free estimate contact us or call 1-800-GUTTER-1.

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West Nile Virus and Gutters

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

by Chuck Johnson

West Nile Virus and Gutters – What Do They Have in Common?

West Nile Virus | Gutters | The Gutter Guys

Photo courtesy of JJ Harrison – Wikimedia.com

This past week television news and newspapers from Philadelphia, PA , New Jersey, Delaware  and Maryland  and across the nation have been talking about how this West Nile virus outbreak  has been the worse since the disease was first discovered in the U.S. in 1999.  The CDC list many ways to reduce your risk of becoming infected, as well as ways to reduce breeding areas for mosquitoes.

One of the best ways to reduce breeding grounds is to remove standing water around your home; some of the areas often recommended include bird baths, flower planters, water bowls for pets and pool water.  While these are great locations to start an can be easily seen while looking around your home, one of the worse locations for breeding mosquitoes is not so easily seen, your rain gutters.  The NJ Department of Environmental Protection states that millions of mosquitoes can be caused by clogged rain gutters.

Don’t put your family at risk of West Nile Virus, and don’t put yourself at risk from injuries or worse by cleaning your own gutters.  See my previous post about hiring a professional gutter cleaning company for tips on Who Should Clean Your Gutters.

For a fast free estimate contact us or call 1-800-GUTTER-1.

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Cleaning Rain Gutters

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Who Should Clean Your Rain Gutters?

In a previous post I discussed how important it is to keep your rain gutters clean and water free flowing out the downspouts.  Now that you understand the reasons why it is necessary to clean your gutters, the next decision to be made is who should clean your gutters?  There are a couple choices you have, do it yourself (or significant-other), ask a friend or neighbor to do it, handymen and landscapers often offer this service and finally hire a gutter company that specializes in gutter maintenance.   I will discuss the pros and cons of each potential choice below.

DIY

While cleaning your gutters yourself may sound like a reasonable chore to do or have your significant-other do, quite often this is the worst possible choice.  Being on a ladder or step ladder is a very dangerous activity unless you have been properly trained in ladder safety.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission states that an average of 165,000 emergency room visits a year are caused by ladder falls. The main reason someone would choose to clean their own gutter is to save money, or as an emergency repair to prevent damage to their property, but if you or your loved one were to suffer a serious injury or fatality would it really have been worth it.  What would a debilitating injury cost if you have to miss work for any period of time? I can tell you that hiring a gutter company is not that expensive.  Just recently a man I know who works for a gutter company that does cleanings as an estimator was cleaning his ex wife’s gutters when he fell off the ladder and broke his ankle.  This is a man who knew the dangers, thought he could do it and now has pins in his ankle and has his son driving him around to estimates so he does not miss work.

Friend or neighbor

Having a friend or neighbor clean your gutters has the same risk of injury or worse as having a family member.  There is one additional risk that you have to consider, if your friend or neighbor were to get hurt do you think they would take their injury and loss of work and quality of life lying down (pun intended).  Unfortunately, today more often than not they would retain legal advice and file suit against you.  As a property owner you are liable for injuries sustain while someone is helping you around the house. As in the previous example, hiring a professional gutter company is an affordable option and protects your family and friends from catastrophic injuries.

Handymen/Landscaper

While most handymen and landscapers are required to have liability and workers compensation insurance to protect you from possible liability if they or an employee were to get injured while working, the truth is a lot of contractors do not carry the proper insurance or they do not carry adequate insurance.  Let me explain, insurance carriers insure companies for particular activities that are common to the business they are in, they assess risk and base the coverage and premium on that activity.  If your landscaper is insured to mow lawns, plant and trim shrubs, maybe even apply fertilizer, do you think they are insured to be on ladders to clean gutters?  As stated above, ladders are dangerous, so insurers assess a risk premium (cost more) if a company is going work on ladders.  If the landscaper, handyman you hire is not insured to be on a ladder and someone is hurt on a ladder, you the homeowner once again become liable for any injury on your property.  Do not put your most valuable assets at risk by hiring an under insured or uninsured handyman, landscaper to clean your gutters when you can hire a professional gutter company that is fully insured to protect you, your loved ones and your home.

Hiring a Gutter Company

There are a lot of gutter companies that offer gutter cleaning services to their customers.  I will discuss here what you should look for when hiring a gutter company to clean your gutters.  Insurance is a must, get a copy from the underwriter showing that the liability and workers-comp. insurance is in effect when they do the work.  How long have they been in business?  Your home is usually one of your biggest assets; you don’t want inexperienced people working on it.  Do they do the work, or do they hire subcontractors? If they hire subcontractors; that opens up a whole new set of issues, but for this discussion you must get a copy of the insurance from the subcontractor in addition to the general contractor. Will the gutter company inspect your gutters and notify you if they see any problems with the gutters that need to be fixed or replaced? Are they a gutter company or a roofing, siding or window company that says they clean gutters but they really want to replace your windows or roof?  How do they clean your gutters?  Some companies use leaf blowers that leave a big mess on your lawn, some clean and bag all the debris by hand and then flush with running water to ensure the water is free flowing out the downspout.  I recommend that you hire a gutter company that does its own work, no subcontractors, cleans  and flushes the gutter system, and is a full service company so if a repair or replacement is needed they can and should inform you. Cleaning prices for home will vary on a number of factors, how much gutter do you have? How high are your gutters? What is type of roof do you have? How often you have your gutters cleaned?  Despite all of these variables, hiring a professional gutter cleaning company that is insured and experienced in cleaning your gutters is money well spent when you compare it to the risk of injury and lawsuit of the other alternatives.

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Why?

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Why Do I Need Gutters?

Homeowners often do not realize the important role the rain gutter system has in protecting their home from the damaging effects of water. I think it is vital that you understand why you have rain gutters on your home in the first place.

Water Damages Your Home

Water is very damaging to the structure of your home, the roof, foundation and exterior siding of your house can be penetrated by the smallest amount of water, as the saying goes, water will find a way.  What may start out as a small amount of water over time will cause a lot of damage if it is allowed to continue.  Once water penetrates the outside of your home it will not take long before it enters the interior and starts to cause visible damage there.

How Gutters Help

Most water damage caused by rain will start around the roof structure, fascia, soffit and foundation.  Your rain gutter system is designed to move rain water away from these areas to protect your home.  If your gutters are not functioning for any reason, including the need to be cleaned, not only are they not protecting your home from water they may actually make the problem worse, by overflowing in the exact areas, roof, fascia, soffit and foundation where most water damage problems begin.  If you wait to clean your gutters until you notice them overflowing or you see the damage caused by clogged gutters you did not clean them soon enough.

Are Your Gutters Clogged?

A question you might ask yourself when you notice your clogged gutters? How long have my gutters been clogged? Often they have been clogged way before you noticed.  Most homeowners only notice the problem when they are home and it is raining, what happens when it is raining and they are not home? Or they are asleep? Or it is dark outside?  Unless rain water is causing visible damage, the homeowner often does not notice the clogged gutter.  When you notice water overflowing your gutter, it has probably been overflowing for sometime before you noticed.

If you ever have had wet or rotten wood on your roof edge, interior walls, fascia or soffit and often damp or moldy basements, the problem may have been caused by your rain gutter system not working properly.  While there is no magic number or frequency of gutter cleaning that will ensure your rain gutters are always clean and water is free flowing out your downspouts away from your home, waiting for the visible signs that the gutters are clogged will not be sufficient to protect your home.

Protect Your Home – Call 1-800-GUTTER-1

or

contact us by email for a fast and FREE estimate!

 

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