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Andy Alvarez
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The Inspector Newsletter
September 2016: Gutters and Drainage
Maintenance Matters
Cleaning Gutters

The gutters on your home are meant to divert rainwater away from the exterior and foundation, but they also collect debris, bugs, stick and leaves. It is important to clean them every six months. Heavier foliage near the home may necessitate more frequent cleaning.

Maintenance Matters

Before cleaning out gutters do the following:

  • Visually inspect gutters and downspouts for apparent damage from tree limbs or storms.
  • Check that all downspouts are directed away from the home’s foundation and splash blocks are in place.
  • Check fasteners on downspouts and gutters to insure proper connections are in place.

If you choose to do this project yourself, grab a ladder and position it next to the gutter. Follow ladder safety rules and use caution near power lines.

  • Cut a two-liter soda bottle in half and use as a scoop.
  • Use barbecue tongs to pick up debris.
  • Lay a tarp on the ground to collect sticks and leaves. Roll up at the end and empty it into the garbage.
  • Hang a bucket on the ladder with an elastic cord to free up your hands.
  • Remove debris from gutters as often as needed to prevent dams and overflow.
  • Depending on location, and the type of nearby trees, gutters may need to be cleaned twice a year or weekly to prevent debris from clogging drains.

After you have removed the large debris from the gutters, take your garden hose and blast out the remaining waste. Don’t forget to wash out hard-to-reach areas such as the drain spout.

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The Making of Gutters

In England, the Norman Invasion in 1066 resulted in the first use of Gargoyles, an early, ornate answer to the problem of moving water away from a structure. By the time English colonists settled in America, lead pipe and cast iron were being used in gutters, but only on more expensive homes.

Wood was perhaps the most commonly used material for gutters and downspouts in the 18th Century United States. These were formed by placing the long side of boards together in a V-shape, or by hollowing out logs. Downspouts were also made of wood and most ended in a cistern or rain barrel. Lead-lined gutters followed, only to be replaced by copper and other metals during the Revolutionary War when lead was needed for bullets.

During the Industrial Revolution, catalogues introduced seven different styles of hanging gutters made of terne, copper, iron, steel, morel, aluminum and vinyl. Plastics gained popularity following World War II.

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September 9 is national Grandparent’s Day

It’s a good time to consider some of the amenities needed by people looking for a home to shelter them in their retirement years. According to the National Association of Home Builders, these are some of the items that can help make a home safe and comfortable for many years:

  • A master bedroom and bathroom on the first floor.
  • A low or no-threshold entrance with an overhang.
  • No level changes on the first floor.
  • Bright lighting throughout the home.
  • Non-slip flooring throughout the home.
  • A low-maintenance exterior.

Safety conditions and concerns are part of any NPI home inspection.

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What word comes from the middle French term for "dead pledge"?

Be the first to answer correctly and win a $10 Starbuck's gift card. Submit your answer to your local NPI inspector to find out if you’ve won.

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