Rain gutters and downspouts comprise one of the simplest and most reliable household systems. They work solely by the force of gravity and almost never wear out. When they do fail, it’s for the same reason, probably 99 percent of the time: we fail to clean them. The only systematic failure they suffer from, apart from outright damage, is improper sloping—that is, when the gutter sags and doesn’t slope down toward the downspout. Therefore, the best way to keep your gutters doing their job is to get up there and clean them, at least a few times a year. Even if you install screens or other devices to keep debris out of your gutters, you need to inspect them regularly to make sure there’s no blockage.
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