I spent a few hours on Saturday playing in the mud and getting wet. Was I gardening? No, I was cleaning the gutters around our house. It had been 9 years since they had been cleaned (Okay, we moved into the house 9 years ago), and I figured it was time for them to have a bath. Naturally, I had to pick a cold, misty day to do this. (I have yet to do anything outside this Fall on a nice day. Those usually come the next day). Anyway, I saw a bunch of eaves sticking out from above the edge of the gutter and I figured they should be cleaned.
Okay, 15-20 minutes tops to scoop-out the leaves and then back to my football game. You see, it was halftime and I wanted to get back in time to see the rest of the game. Two and a half hours later, I come back into the house wet and muddy. What started as a home improvement activity to keep me away from the refrigerator for 30 minutes, turned out to be a major undertaking that kept me from seeing the end of my football game. Here's what happened...
I grab the ladder and the trash bag-lined pail and climb up to grab my first handful of leaves. What I got was a handful of leaves and sludge. Yup, the entire 16-foot length of the gutter was coated with a 1/4"-1/2" layer of sludge. So, starting from the end nearest the downspout I began to scoop the sludge and leaves, slowly working my way down to the other end. Once completed and to make sure that everything was sparkly and shiny, I grabbed the hose and washed down the gutter and then sprayed the water down the downspout to unclog anything that may have been stuck there. I then did the same thing to the two other gutters that surround our abode. Sure enough, they each had a layer of mud or sludge coating the bottom.
The moral of this story is: you may have more than leaves in your gutters. The layer of sludge not only slows down the flow of water to the downspout, but it also adds an enormous amount of weight to the gutter. Please be sure and check your gutters and make sure that you have a clean and unrestricted flow of water to and through your downspout (make sure that the water drains away from your foundation). An overflowing gutter can create a source of ice dams (in colder climates) and can contribute to, among other things, leaky roofs and rotting wood.
Oh, I missed the rest of the game, but my team won!