Avoid headache, clean gutters again

Home Work

April 18, 1999|By Karol V. Menzie and Ron Nodine

APRIL showers, welcome as they are to gardeners, can also bring homeowners a major headache.

This is when you find out what kind of gunk built up in your gutters over the winter. Yeah, yeah, we can hear the collective groan from here. Clean the gutters? Most people would rather have a root canal.

But, if you don't clean a clogged gutter, a number of bad things can happen to your house: leaking water can peel paint, rot wood and lead to water in the basement.

Here are some tips from 84 Lumber on maintaining your gutters:

* For ideal drainage, your gutter should be 4 to 5 inches wide, and should drop 1/2 to 1 inch for each 20 feet of length. It should also hang about a half-inch lower in the front than in the back. The gutter should be about three-quarters inch below the roof edge at its highest point.

* Gutters should be cleaned twice a year: Once in the spring after trees bud out, and once in the fall, after the leaves have fallen -- even if you have some type of gutter guard.

* Check the gutters for signs of standing water. Pooling water can cause rust and leaks in galvanized gutters. Aluminum gutters don't rust, but they can leak and stain the gutter and the house. Look for lines on the inside of the gutter that indicate where water has stood.

* Check downspouts for loose joints. Leaks in joints can channel water right into your basement. Be sure the downspouts are routing runoff well away from the foundation. You may need to use downspout extenders that can channel water 5 to 10 feet from the foundation.

Spring also seems to be the time when a lot of thoughts turn to home improvements.

At least that's what a new report from American Express says: More than a third of 800 households surveyed are planning some kind of home improvement project this year, and 62 percent of those people will start the work between May and June.

Whatever the project, consumers will spend an average of $2,747, American Express says. Favored projects are interior decorating, renovation, landscaping, exterior decorating and maintenance. Sixty-seven percent of households plan to do the work themselves.

However, if money were no object, what consumers would like to do is to add a room, completely remodel a room, buy a new house, completely remodel their house, and landscape.

New jigsaw

Black & Decker Corp. has introduced a new line of jigsaws with a channel down the front that makes it easier to see what you're cutting. In addition, the front and sides of the new "Sightline Channel" saws are tapered and angled to improve the view of the blade and the cutting line.

The saws, which also have a tool-free blade-changing system, come in two sizes: one with a 3.5-amp motor, for $44.99, and the other with a 3.2-amp motor, for $34.99. The jigsaws are available at home improvement centers and hardware stores.

Ron Nodine is owner of American Renovator Inc., a Baltimore design-build remodeling firm, and past president of the Remodelors Council of the Home Builders Association of Maryland. Karol Menzie is a feature writer for The Sun.

If you have questions, tips or experiences to share about working on houses, e-mail Ron at hw@renovator.net or Karol at karol.menzie@baltsun.com. Or write c/o HOME WORK, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. Questions of general interest will be answered in the column; comments, tips and experiences will be reported in occasional columns.

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