Keeping cottage eavestroughs clean and free-flowing ensures that water goes where it’s supposed to: away from your roof structure and foundation where it can’t cause damage. Spring is a great time for an eavestrough checkup. Harsh winters can take a toll—here are a few key things to think about for inspection and cleaning (and repairs, if necessary) to guarantee smooth draining until you repeat the whole process in the late fall.
Get the gunk out If you didn’t clear your eavestroughs in the fall (I see you), that’s the place to start. There are gadgets available to do this from the ground—shop vac and pressure washer attachments—and while these may be helpful for in-between maintenance, nothing beats getting up on a ladder to get a close look at what’s going on. From this vantage point, you can inspect for any loose connections or leaks, and you can deposit debris directly into a bucket instead of strewing it on the ground to be cleaned up a second time.
Consider your ladder You’ll need a quality aluminum extension ladder fitted with a pair of standoffs: these curved aluminum tubes fit into the rungs at the top of the ladder so it can extend over the eavestrough and brace up against the roof. Getting over the trough is much better than trying to reach blindly around the overhang from below. Once you’re on the ladder, don’t overreach—reposition the ladder for each reachable section instead of risking a fall.
Glove up Nothing beats your hands for scooping out the bulk of the debris; wear a pair of heavy-duty nitrile gloves to put distance between you and the goop. At the bottom of the trough, there will be finer stuff, such as grit dislodged from asphalt shingles. Don’t worry about this now as it will be washed away in the final step.
Search and replace Once you’ve cleaned out the big stuff, look for any dips where water might pool. These are usually a result of a hanger coming loose or the weight of snow and ice bending the trough. Replace or reattach hangers that have pulled away from the fascia board, and bend the sagging trough back into place.
Fix loose connections Inspect downspouts and elbows for loose connections, clear them with your hose, and secure with self-tapping stainless steel screws. Lastly, run a hose from the end opposite the downspout to wash away any lingering debris and to ensure that the trough is draining properly. This will also reveal any small leaks, which can be patched from the inside with silicone sealant.