How to Keep Your Gutters Clean and Inspect Your Roof

As a property owner, it’s no secret how important your roof is. It’s a vital structure that separates you from the intense elements of Mother Nature. Proper maintenance is key to its longevity, but what exactly does that entail? Where is a good place to start? Keep gutters clean. Keep drains clean.

It is imperative to properly maintain all elements of your roof. When you’re dealing with a residential roof, you can keep your roof in good standing by cleaning your gutters and drains regularly. Try marking your calendar on your days off, weekends, or long holidays to keep them clean.

As a business owner, you should be doing the same thing. Commercial gutter cleaning often gets pushed aside or forgotten as the everyday requirements of running a business overcome building maintenance you may deem “non-essential.”

Yet, roof maintenance is important for all roofs: residential and commercial. Remembering to clean out your gutters could be the difference between a safe, structurally sound roof and one that only lasts for a few years.

Keeping Gutters and Drains Clean

The Importance of Clean Gutters and Drains

Gutters are an important part of your roof’s functionality. They are one of your building’s first defense systems. Why? Because your gutters catch all the water pouring down off your roof and guide it safely away from your building and its foundations.

Having clean gutters is important for any residential and commercial property, but especially for flat roofs. Over time, leaves degrade and become heavy. Moisture gets trapped and becomes a gooky pile of compost. It is the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. Properly maintaining gutters and drains helps prevent this build up.

Gutters are easy to maintain, which is great because they are the reason that your roof doesn’t buckle under the weight of accumulated water and debris.

To keep your gutters and drains in tip-top shape, all you need to do is clean them. Debris, leaves, sticks, Frisbees that were never retrieved, and whatever else was tossed up and long forgotten can prevent gutters from being able to do their job.

While cleaning your gutters may not your favorite task, it’s certainly an important one. You should clean your gutters out multiple times throughout the year.

A clogged gutter can’t do its job. This means your home or commercial building’s shingles, siding, soffits, and more are vulnerable to damage from backed up water and debris. When your roof becomes vulnerable, it’s more likely that severe damage will occur from preventable instances. That’s why it’s important to keep gutters clean.

Tips to Keep Gutters Clean

The best way to have properly working gutters is to be proactive with your maintenance. You can either decide to clean your gutters yourself or hire a gutter cleaning service.

If you do decide to clean them yourself, here are the materials you should gather before you get started:

  • Long-sleeve shirt
  • Rubber gloves
  • Quality extendable ladder
  • Standoff stabilizers (ladder “horns”) to keep the ladder from damaging the gutter
  • Small plastic scoop to remove gunk (you can buy a gutter scoop at a hardware or a child’s sand shovel will work in a pinch)
  • Plastic tarp for easier cleanup when collecting debris
  • Garden hose to flush the gutters and downspouts

To get started, take your sturdy ladder and clean out all the visible debris from your property’s gutters.

Follow any and all safety recommendations for being on your ladder and for cleaning your gutters. Make sure you alert passersby of what you’re doing. You do not want anyone to accidentally get hit with debris.

Once you’ve cleaned out the debris, you’ll want to focus on your downspouts because this is what actually takes water away from your building. You can clean out the gutter as much as you want, but if your downspouts are clogged, it’ll be for nothing.

To clean your downspouts, use a hose or a plumber’s snake for the best results. If these tools do not get the job done, most downspouts can be taken apart for cleaning and reassembled when done.


Any time you clean your gutters and drains, you should also give your roof an inspection. You are already up on your ladder, so you might as well get the most from your time.

Typically, commercial roofs are more flat than residential roofs, so they are more prone to damage. The lack of angle means that things don’t just slide off as easily as they do in residential homes.

Regardless of whether you own a commercial or residential property, it’s still important to conduct visual checks of your roof.

Water is heavy when it accumulates. Standing water can quickly lead to a compromise in your roof’s integrity. During your inspection, search out the areas on your roof where water can accumulate and make sure to clean those spaces as well when you are up cleaning your gutters.

Taking preventative action is much better than waiting until there’s a problem.

If you are hiring a maintenance crew to clean your gutters, make sure they know exactly what you need. Make your expectations clear and ask that they clean the gutters, downspouts and any residual water areas on your roof. Additionally, let them know you’d like to know of any damages they see when they are working.

If you don’t have a crew, you should know what to look for when inspecting your roof. Keep an eye out for standing water, blocked drains, and any buildups of leaves or debris.

If have a roof with shingles, you need to pay special attention to them during your inspection. Shingles are essentially the first line of defense on your roof. Most commercial buildings don’t have shingles, but if yours does, don’t ignore them.

When inspecting shingles, the first thing to look for is if any of your shingles are missing. If your roof is missing a shingle it means that you have a weak spot. Secondly, take a peek to see if any of your shingles are curling, blistering, buckling or stained. All of these are indications that there is a bigger problem that needs to be addressed.

If you find any problems with your shingles, it’s time to call a professional roofing company to do a proper inspection. You want to make sure that there are not any additional problems underneath the damaged shingles.

Here are the biggest takeaways from inspection and preventative basics:

  • Roofing inspections should be done at least twice a year.
  • Clean out gutters and drains during each inspection.
  • Remove any loose items on the roof.
  • Check for any standing water or blockages.
  • Maintain a good landscape and keep long trees trimmed so they don’t spill over onto your roof.
  • Make sure your downspouts and drains don’t lead to a place where water will accumulate near your building’s foundation.
  • If you have shingles, make sure to inspect them too since they are the first line of defense for your roof.
  • Replace any broken or damaged pieces of your gutter and drain system as soon as possible.
  • Keep everything anchored down for the best protection.
  • Reattach and tighten any pieces you removed during cleaning.

How to Determine if It’s Time to Replace Your Gutters

Regular maintenance will help your gutters last longer, but it’s important to know the warning signs of worn-down gutters.

Look for the following issues to determine if your gutters need an upgrade:

Cracks or splits

Cracks allow water to seep into the fascia boards behind your gutters, the shingles above your gutters and the foundation below. Even small cracks will grow, allowing water to seep into the fascia boards behind the gutters, the shingles above the gutters and the foundation underneath. If you see any crack or split in your gutter, you should replace it. Small cracks become big cracks, which equals big problems.

Paint damage and rust

The paint used on gutters is weather resistant, helping to protect your gutters from rain and snow. If your paint starts peeling or rusting, it means that water is continually present on the surface. You should replace or touch up the paint on the damaged section of the gutter (depending on the severity of the damage).

Pools of water and mold

Standing water or mildew near the foundation can indicate that your gutters are clogged or have a defect somewhere in your gutter system. Search for the clog and remove it. If it becomes a repeated problem, you should replace that section of the gutter and downspout.

Water damage or water marks

Inspections for water damage or water marks should be conducted on a dry, sunny day for best results. If you see water damage underneath the gutter, it’s possible your gutters are leaking or overflowing with water. Search for possible blockages in the area. If you do not find a blockage, look for a section with a crack or a leak and repair as needed.

Sagging gutters

If you see any gutter sag while inspecting your gutters, it’s a definite sign it’s time for a replacement. Gutters should never sag or pull away from the house. Sagging gutters cannot drain properly and need to be replaced.

Determining if you need new gutters is an important step toward keeping your roof maintained, but it’s not the last one.

What Comes Next

Once you tackle the exterior of your property, you should expand your search. Ultimately, you’ll want to check your roof from the inside out. This step is often overlooked, which can have disastrous and costly results.

To start your indoor inspection, go to the attic or top floor of your building and simply look up.

Then answer the following questions:

  • What do you see?
  • Are there any areas where water may be leaking through?
  • Are there any sources of light sneaking in?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes” then you probably have a leak or a hole that needs repaired. Call a professional to get a proper inspection to learn more details about what is happening in your house or commercial building and how to fix the issue.

It is crucial that you do not ignore or push off any leaks or holes you find because they will not go away. It’ll only grow and you’ll only find yourself in deeper waters—literally.

The last step of your indoor inspection is searching for any signs of mold or mildew. When you catch these problems early enough, they’re usually easy to fix without undergoing any major construction. However, if ignored, mold and mildew can seep into the foundation of your roof and cause a much bigger, more expensive problem.

If you find mold or mildew, you can opt for at-home remedies or head to your home improvement store and find something more powerful to tackle the mold. If it looks like the mold or mildew has already overtaken a large area of your roof, it’s best to call the professionals for an inspection. That way, you won’t overlook any structural problems that may go unseen to the untrained eye.

Calling in the Professionals

When it comes to your roof, it’s best to be proactive and inspect your roof regularly so that you keep your roof and gutters maintained. However, there comes a time when every roof needs to be seen by a professional.

If a particularly strong storm has blown through, or if you’ve never done your own commercial roof maintenance, make sure to call the professionals. It is always going to be better to get a professional opinion on your roof and take out the guesswork. The earlier you find out what’s truly wrong with your roof, the better it will be. You can save time, money and energy when you know what you’re dealing with from the beginning.

If you don’t have any major problems, it’s still recommended to get an annual inspection regardless of the weather. Having a professional come in will speed up the entire process and save you money in the long run. Plus, routine inspections are the key to preventative maintenance—both of which will greatly extend the life of your roof.

The professionals at Advocate Construction have the experience and expertise that you want in a detailed roofing inspection. During their inspection, if you have any commercial roofing damage, they’ll be able to provide you with an immediate estimate and make any necessary recommendations.

If anything is wrong after the inspection, the experienced roofing contractors from Advocate Construction will make sure your job is done efficiently and with complete transparency. We pride ourselves on working with integrity and longevity in mind. To contact an experienced roofing contractor from Advocate Construction, give us a call today at 833-409-ROOF (7663)