gutter cleaning in Marlborough ma
I remember a time when you couldn't buy a rain barrel anywhere. If you wanted to collect rain water you had to buy a plain barrel with some pvc parts and make it yourself. Now you can buy them everywhere, in many shapes and colors. You can buy a plastic barrel that looks like an old fashioned wood barrel. You can buy one that looks like a ceramic pot. You can even get a rain barrel that resembles a giant rock!
Why use a rain barrel? There are two good reasons. For one, it takes a lot of water to quench even a small lawn and that can really jack up your water bill. The other reason is that plants grow better with rain water because tap water contains chlorine which inhibits growth.
Usually rain barrels are installed close to the house underneath a length of gutter. The downspout is cut short and diverted to the top of the barrel so that the water from the gutter can accumulate in the barrel.
If you are going to attach a hose to your barrel you need to have it elevated. The higher the barrel the stronger the water pressure will be. You will need as much pressure as you can get if you are going to use the water to keep a lawn green.
Watering plants and lawns take a lot of water, as a result some homes have multiple barrels, situated on every corner of the house. Some people will even stack one barrel onto another.
Just one container will help you to save water. Rain barrels are considered to be a great water conservation tool.
Years ago I saw a house that despite there being no gutters, there was still downspouts running down from the roof. I assumed the gutter must have fallen in a snow storm or something.
Later I discovered that this house did actually have a working gutter. It was just that the gutter was not exposed but hidden. This is why this set-up is called a "Concealed roof drainage system" but better known as a "Built in gutter". This type of gutter was created to be hidden so that it doesn't take away the character or historic design of the house.
More recently I had the dubious pleasure of replacing a built in gutter on a house in Newton. Doing this was not an easy job. I had to cut out and remove the copper lining. The new gutter lining had to be shaped and soldered together by a copper expert. When I installed the new copper I had to seal it in to the existing EPDM rubber roof.
Built in gutters are almost always made of copper and are shaped into a shallow but wide trough. This shape makes them less apt to clog. The shallowness of this gutter allows the wind to circle through, resulting in leaves being blown out and removed.
Today, you don't see many of the built in gutter systems. The weak points are the joints on the copper seams, and once they begin to leak they can't be re-soldered. Because replacing the copper lining is so expensive, the majority of homeowners will not replace them. When it is time to replace the roof, often the owner will have the contractor roof over the hidden gutter, never to be seen again.
Is there a type of gutter that can last 50 years or more?
Is there a gutter that requires very little maintenance and comes in a bunch of colors?
The answer is yes, and these gutters are made of cast iron.
Cast iron gutters come in a number of styles, from round to K-style.
BUT... they are not available in the US. :(
When I first heard of iron gutters I was sure there was some mistake. I know cannon balls are made of iron but not gutters. I couldn't imagined heavy lengths of iron hanging from wooden fascia boards. I imagined a small army would be needed to hang each length of iron gutter.
Then I did some heavy research. (Actually it was just a Google search)
Iron gutters are not as heavy as one would think, although at least two people are needed to install each 6 foot section.
Each length is secured to the house with powerful brackets and each gutter seam is bolted together with a rubber seal.
The downspouts fit together kinda like vacuum cleaner tubes. They are also secured to the house using strong brackets.
I am not sure why cast iron gutters are not available in the US. They are mainly used in Europe and all of the online suppliers are in the UK. Even in Europe these gutters are used mostly on old historic houses and buildings.
Cast iron gutters are an old world invention that are not used very much today. They are a throw-back from an earlier time when things were built to last.
In this post of gutter cleaning gadgets, I want to show you some homemade gutter cleaning tools. Here are three gutter cleaning gadgets that once built, could enable you to do the work safely from the ground.
1 The pvc pipe gutter cleaner
This is a homemade version of a powerwash telescoping wand. There is a couple of versions of this home made contraption around the web. The idea is simple; you glue some pvc pipe together and attach it to a hose. You are then able to reach the gutters from the ground, and you can wash the debris from the gutter down the drain. See the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rT2Q0Y0PreM
The plan looks good on paper but doesn't really pan out in real life. Unless the gutters are pretty free of debris anyway, rinsing the gutters will do little good. The debris will flow towards the drain and bottle neck in the outlet, causing a clog. Once this material gets into the elbow(s) its almost impossible to unclog without taking it apart. Also its messy. Years ago, I muddied up the front of a house trying out a similar home made gadget. I am not a fan of water wands anyway.
2 Home made gutter cleaning vacuum
On the website spillingcoffee.com there are instructions on how to build your own gutter cleaning vacuum. I haven't built this myself but it looks very promising. If you have a lawnmower with a suction port, you just may have enough power to suck the leaves out of your gutters. These instruction show how to attach a lawnmover to an extention tube to a stove pipe elbow. I like the wide 4 inch duct used to suck the debris in because it is less apt to clog.
3 Air compressor gutter cleaner (patent US 20050051193 A1)
I found a patent on Google patens that shows a description of a gutter cleaning gadget that uses an air compressor. It doesn't have instructions on how to build the contraption but I'm sure a motivated person could build one from looking at the diagrams. Here's the link: http://www.google.com/patents/US20050051193
The compressed air travels through a hose and out of a wand nozzle tip. This concentrated stream of air sweeps the leaves out of the gutters. If there is a prototype of this gadget built, I would like to see it in action. It would be interesting to see how it handles a clogged downspout.
Thank you for reading.
In the vast majority of cases, gutters are installed directly to the fascia board using screws or nails. But, what if there is no fascia board to install the gutter to? What if there is a crown molding instead? In this case most gutter installers will choose to install the gutter to the roof using Strap hangers or hanging rods.
The problem with this strap hanging system is that contractors almost always do a poor job installing them. What do I mean by a poor job? Here is a picture I took of a gutter hanging from my roof.
The nails holding the hanging rods are nailed right through the roof with the heads left exposed to the elements. When a nail head is exposed, water can follow that nail down into the wood. This water can cause rot and mold. These nails should at the very least be caulked in to prevent leaks.
The best way to install these hangers is by securing them under the shingle and not on top. To illustrate, I gently pulled up a shingle tab and installed a hanging strap.
I used two deck screws to secure this strap into the roof. Now this strap can hold a gutter while being safely hidden under the roof. No more exposed nails.
Thanks for reading my post.
The natural green that comes about from natural weathering can be prevented by applying a barrier between the copper and the elements . Years ago I applied oil to some brand new copper gutters and downspouts. The statuary finish did last for a couple of years but the green patina eventually won out because the oil has to be re-applied every three years.
If you want to keep a copper gutters or roofing shiny, these are the two ways that I know of on how to do it.
1)Coating with oil:
If you want to prevent that patina from forming, Linseed oil works pretty well. The linseed I used was raw and I coated the gutters with one thin coat. After I let everything completely dry, I Then applied a second coat. Much to my surprise, it took around 8 years before the copper started to turn brown. If would have stayed shiny if I kept re-coating the gutters every 3 to 4 years.
2)Coating with ProtectaClear Coatings
There is a product called protectaClear that is made for the very purpose of keeping copper shiny. I have never used this product but it looks like it is a clear protective coating. It is made of polymer resins in a solvent base. The advantage this product has over linseed oil is that it only needs to be applied in one coat. Also it lasts longer having to be reapplied every 5 to 10 years.
At first I thought I had discovered a third product to add to my post. It is called CopperCoat. CopperCoat is put out by Woodlife (or is it Rust-Oleum?) and I though "Aha, I new a wood sealer would work great on copper!" Unfortunately CopperCoat Is a wood sealer that is not recommended for copper. It's called CopperCoat simply because of it's green color. :(
In the past I installed copper roofs flashing and gutters. I have been asked more than once by customers "Is there a way to make the copper turn green faster?" When I was first asked this question I thought "There are people that actually like the look of oxidized copper?" Apparently people do like that antique green and surprisingly want the process to happen faster than nature would intend. I have never tried to make copper turn green but that doesn't mean I wont do it in the future. How does one do this?
That natural green coating is called Patina and it is caused by oxidation of the copper over a period of time. That oxidation can be sped up by treating the metal with some form of acidic solution.
You can make your own acid mix at home. You must wear rubber gloves when handling these chemicals.
Personally I don't like the green affects from an acid treatment but who knows? I may decide to add a patina service to my bag of tricks.
One of the simplest types of gutter is the gutter made from two lengths of wood nailed together in a V shape. They are referred to as a V shaped gutter or trough.
I don't know when this style of gutter was first used but I noticed these types of gutters on very old historical houses. They usually don't have any downspouts and just simply drain out on each end. These types of gutters are made extra long so the water empties out away from the house. It really is ingenious in it's simplicity.
This is a picture of the back of the old wayside mill in Sudbury.
This is a picture of Paul Revere's house in Boston. It has the old V style wood gutter but this one has downspouts too.
These wooden gutters cannot have trees hanging over them because they will clog up and begine to rot. When I was looking at some old black and white photos, I noticed most homes in these pictures had very little trees near or over the house. This is in stark contrast to today where most houses are surrounded by trees.
The V shaped trough has long been replaced by other types of gutters. However, there seems to be a resurgence of people online wanting to build their own. I have also read about people wanting to recreate this old gutter with new never-rot materials.
Who knows? Maybe the v shaped gutter will become popular again and be sold at your local Home Depot.
By Elton Magoon
Here is an interesting thing I found when I was looking at some gutter guards that I installed a year ago. I was checking out an unrelated gutter problem when I noticed In the middle of a length of gutter, a piece of foam filter had weeds growing out of it. Under further inspection I discovered a network of roots grown through the filter itself. This weed is only growing in one spot which so happens to be over an area of the gutter containing some standing water. This length of gutter is not obtimally pitched so there is some rain water sitting in the middle. This is a very common situation with aluminum gutters.
How did this weed grow? Apparently if you combine sitting water with a gutter foam filter there is the potential of having weeds grow from it.
You learn something every day!
I have had the pleasure recently of using yet another Amerimax product. It's called FLEX-Drain And its cheap, durable and easy to install. It is available at your local Home Depot and Lowe's.
The FLEX-Drain is a tubing that comes in 3 different lengths (3′ 6′ or 12′ ) but each length can stretch to 4 times its length! This amazing tubing can help you to keep water away from your home.
I had to install a couple of these FLEX-Drains to get the water away from my foundation. The ones I used were 6 feet but could be stretched to 25 feet. You can stretch them out and position them where you want them.
I simply attached the tubes to my downspouts and adjusted them to sit where I wanted them. If the tubes are too conspicuous for your taste, you can also bury them underground. If necessary, you can have the FLEX-Drain empty out 50 feet away from your home. In my opinion, because of the damage water can cause, you can't keep the water far enough away.