How to Avoid Back Injuries When Choosing to DIY Roof Maintenance

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How to Avoid Back Injuries When Choosing to DIY Roof Maintenance

Does a tired and aching back after being hunched over working on your roof all day sound familiar?

Back pain is a common complaint with 8 out of 10 Australians experiencing it at some stage.

Here are some physiotherapist-approved tips to alleviate lower back strain. It may sound like common sense, but a large proportion of us do not bend correctly.  Most of us bend over with our pelvis or waist while keeping our legs straight. Unfortunately, this is a guaranteed way to place unnecessary pressure on your back. Health professionals recommend bending your knees first to lower your body to a squat like position while keeping your back straight.  Allow the large muscles in your legs to help lift instead of your back primarily bearing the burden.  If you are lifting a heavy object, keep it as close to your body as possible and lift with your legs. Exercise caution when carrying a bucket bag as a leaf holder. Stay mindful of the weight and how you carry the load, particularly while carrying it on a ladder.

Cooler temperatures during these winter months tend to constrict our arterial system, especially as we get older. This can decrease blood flow and reduce joint mobility. Gentle daily physical motion and correct posture are excellent remedies.

So, what is the best posture to adopt when doing roof maintenance?

Sitting on your roof to clean instead of excessively reaching from a ladder may allow for a better posture. The less bending from the waist the better! Avoid a stiff neck and shoulders by trying to keep a level head instead of looking down for long periods of time. Refrain from looking up too often as well! Many DIYers stay below the roofline and reach up and over, which is aggravating for your back. Before undertaking any physical exertion such as climbing your ladder or cleaning your gutters, stretching is also a great way to protect your health and prevent unnecessary injury. The Australian Pain Management Association lists the following 16 exercises to relieve lower back pain.  If performing that many exercises seems daunting at first, try gentle standing back arches before and after the task.  It is always important to check with your GP prior to starting any new exercise regime.

It is also imperative to gather the right tools for the trade. Supportive, non-slip shoes are a must-have. Although it is the Australian way to sport thongs all year round, it is not the most practical for your feet especially when undertaking labour-intensive tasks. Thongs can be a slip hazard and do not keep your feet in a neutral, supportive position. This leads to an unsupported spine.

Another necessity is a sturdy, height appropriate ladder. Read our blog here about the alarmingly high number of fatalities caused by falls from ladders and roofs. A multipurpose ladder with an extension function is always handy.  This capability may lessen the need to lift and move the ladder around to get to the perfect angle to clean out your gutter. Ensure the ground underneath the ladder is level before you climb at a height. Additionally, it is a good idea to get gloved up to prevent lacerations from potentially sharp cut off roof and gutter edges.

Although it is always best to seek professional advice regarding back problems there are strategies to lessen the complaint. It has been proven that cleaning your gutters yourself can be a dangerous task. Gutter-Vac has got your back however! We have unmatched expertise and we are skilled in working at heights with correct manual handling techniques. Please do not hesitate to ask our technicians for further information on how we can help you enhance your home.  

Finding the Right Gutter For your Roof

Think one size fits all when it comes to gutters? Think again! There are a variety of gutter types and materials used in houses across Australia. We’ve outlined some of the most commonly used styles to explain what they do, and which one is best for you!

Eave gutters

Eave gutters are the type that usually spring to mind when someone mentions the word ‘gutter’. They are fixed to a fascia or an eave and are prevalent in residential designs. They can be constructed from an array of material such as aluminum, copper and galvanised steel.  So, let’s look at the characteristics of each. Aluminum is usually the leader of the pack with affordability and ease of installation on its side. It is a light metal that is rust resistant and can be painted hassle-free. Copper is notoriously corrosion resistant and has origins tracing back to ancient Egypt when copper pipe was used for plumbing.  The fact that there are still relics of this intact, demonstrates the durability of copper. Though very long lasting and beautiful in form, copper gutters can be challenging on the budget. They are usually used on luxury homes, or heritage restoration projects. Steel gutters are heavier, paint-friendly, and also have rust-resistant qualities. They are strong and less prone to dents in comparison to aluminum gutters. However, because they are weighty, there are harder for the DIYer to install.

Box gutters

If the gutter framework isn’t apparent from the outside of the building on the ground, chances are you have a box gutter. Named after their ‘boxy’ shape, box gutters are commonly utilised on commercial buildings. In recent times though, they have become popular in architecturally designed residential homes as they are ‘hidden’. They can be pricey, but they create a streamlined effect, showcasing the design of the house.

Box gutters are a pertinent topic particularly now in the winter months as rainfall can be higher. Make sure to get the right box gutter sorted for your roof. They are often situated above a room or space in a building, thus there is an increased risk of overflow water damage to the building. If you encounter a leak, it is critical to get onto it straight away. A great deal of rain in a short period of time can be problematic if your box gutter is not tended to regularly. When water pools in an area with incorrect pitch or fall, this is known as ponding. Ponding is definitely not ideal, as it will invite rust to gnaw away at your gutters. When box gutters break down prematurely it can cause mayhem for tenants, landlords and precious equipment housed in industrial properties. Most box gutters are made from metal but they can also be crafted from concrete, and in some cases, asbestos.

Sometimes box gutters can also be implemented to solve complex roofing problems. For example, extensions on the roof can collect more water than standard gutters can cope with. This may also be the case if you have a very large roof area. Standard gutters will be overwhelmed. Depending on your circumstances, a customised box gutter can alleviate troublesome water overflow.

A valley gutter is another style of gutter that may be present on your roof. This style is situated in the valley of the roof and is open and exposed.

Before you commit to a gutter design, it is best to research your options to know exactly what to expect. A blend of attractive form and functionality is ideal. Whatever your gutter cleaning requirements, we are happy to provide individual assessments and customise our service to suit your needs. We are also able to provide a roof inspection report.

4 Reasons Why Your Gutters Might Be Leaking.

“Beware of great expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.” – Benjamin Franklin.

Benjamin Franklin’s quote rings true not just for sailors, but for homeowners too!

It can be very frustrating to discover a leak in your home, and very unnerving trying to figure out the source!

Wouldn’t it be nice to avoid the mad scurry to find buckets every time it rains? And not have to worry about unnecessary water damage to your building foundations, outside furniture and deck area?

We’ve outlined below the most common causes of gutter leakage, and some ways to solve it before it gets out of hand.

Age

Ah old age – it is inevitable for all of us. Unfortunately, the turns of time can also wear down your gutters. Sometimes, gutter leaks can occur regardless if they have been emptied or not. This may be to do with their age. Over a period of time, gutters can loosen. Following this diagnosis, you may need to have tighter fastenings installed. But it’s not all bad news – regular roof maintenance will undeniably enhance longevity.

Gaps and Cracks

Gaps can occur if the gutters have been neglected over time.

Without care and regular inspection, the connections joining your gutters can wear out from exposure to the elements. Spotting washed out soil underneath the gutter connection may indicate water is leaking through.

Grit and debris can potentially get into the seal itself which may cause erosion.

The simplest way to protect your connections is to ensure the gutters are cleaned on a regular basis to minimise debris rot.

Professional advice is recommended as damaged gutters can quickly lead to serious water damage.

Gutter Slope Problem

If your gutter is sagging, it is a sure sign to take action. Mounting brackets can also sag or become damaged, which can cause an incorrect gutter slope.

Ideally, your gutter should have a slight gradient to gently channel water to the downspout. However, as time marches on, or if the gutters have been weighed down by heavy debris, this slope system can sag too much. This may lead to excess water lying in the gutter, which can cause rust. Rust can then eat away at your gutters, creating holes. Left untreated, water pooling in the gutter can also attract mosquitoes and other unwanted pests.

Blockages

A blocked gutter can lead to many associated issues. For instance, a clogged gutter can cause fascia damage. If your fascia board is timber, it can easily rot if exposed to increased moisture from an inefficient gutter system. Without regular upkeep, excess debris from your gutter can even clog the downpipes, which will overload them. This means the water will then naturally travel back up to the highest point – your gutters. Subsequently, your gutters may overflow causing leakage into ceiling cavities or other surrounding areas.

If you have a big blockage in your down pipes you would need to call out a plumber, which might end up being an expensive experience. Stubborn blockages may mean the use of a water jetter, and CCTV cameras to effectively identify the location of the obstruction – all of which may incur an added cost.

It’s tricky to identify the source of a leak yourself, so it’s always best to enlist the help of a professional. The tell-tale signs of water damage may not manifest themselves until well after the fact. Regular checks and maintenance help prevent potential issues before they become a problem.

We continue to support you during this time and would like you to know we can provide a safe, no contact service during this period of social distancing.

Rest assured – we always prioritise the safety of our employees and customers.

Your Seasonal Guide to Home Maintenance

Now that you may be spending a little more time at home, it’s the perfect opportunity to get your home projects sorted. Whatever the weather, here is a step-by-step guide to keep your home in tip-top condition.

Autumn

With the weather cooling down, now is a good time to spend time in the garden and lap up the lovely autumnal afternoons.

If you are into gardening, or just looking for an excuse to get some fresh air, it’s an excellent time to plant some bulbs for spring. Mulch your garden beds to help the soil retain heat. Do some pruning for the coming winter months.

It may also be a time when your trees drop most of their leaves before they go into their winter slumber. Book in for a gutter clean before the leaves decay and cause havoc.

To protect your home, your gutters ideally should be cleaned in preparation for increased rainfall in winter.

Winter

We are fortunate enough in Queensland to have relatively mild winters. Sometimes we experience a few cold snaps though. If you have a fireplace, you will know there is something special about basking in its warm cozy glow during chilly evenings.

Did you know Gutter-Vac also cleans chimneys? A clean chimney means the air in your home is safe and fresh. Aim to book in at least once a year. With our Gutter-Vac technology, your space will be left immaculate and tidy during the process. Check window and door seals around your home to prevent heat escaping. Consider giving surrounding trees a trim to let more winter light permeate your home. This is also an important step to fire-proof your property.

Brisbane City Council outlines August through to December as the fire season. They recommend taking preventative bush fire measures before the season starts, so winter is ideal to get fire-resistant. Leaves in your gutter are definitely a fire hazard. It is important to clear combustible material such as dry grass and tree branches that are low-lying or hang over the property. The gutter guard we recommend, Gutter-Flow, is a V0 rating fire retardant. It does not continue to burn without a flame, and does not dispel burning droplets of material if alight.  

Spring

The arrival of spring signals the start of ‘spring cleaning’ and de-cluttering around the home. Flowers are blooming and baby birds are chirping. Sometimes though, birds will take up residence in your gutter. This is important to monitor, as clean gutters will probably be less enticing for them to make nests than soft, leafy ones. Not to mention, snakes are easily drawn to this environment. Get in touch if you would like to learn more about our bird proofing solutions. Also, after harsh winter conditions, it’s a good plan show your deck and outdoor areas some TLC with a water pressure clean and re-seal.

Summer

Along with outdoor BBQ’s and balmy afternoons, summer can also bring extreme heat and wild weather. Your roof will bear the brunt of hail and heavy rain during our Queensland summer storms. If you have a tiled roof, make sure it is secure as loose tiles and high winds are a dangerous combination.

During summer, a great deal of dust and debris becomes airborne which lands on the outside of your home. Our pressure cleaning service is ideal to refresh your exterior.

The hot and humid summer conditions can also entice pests to breed. Don’t give them an opportunity to forge a home in your gutters as they can quickly infest the interior.

Gutter-Vac can help you keep your home feeling fresh and inviting all year round. Sit back and relax while we get to work on your home beautification.

How you can use your gutters to collect rainwater.

Thinking of your water bill with dread? There is a simple and free alternative.

Especially if you are in area where water shortages are on the rise, it is always good to have a back up plan.

Why not invest in rainwater? It is possible to be self-sufficient, eco-friendly, and reduce your mains water bills by 100%.

The easiest way to harvest rainwater is by installing a water tank.

The initial outlay of a tank may be a tad expensive, but it pays off in the long term. After all, we use water everyday, and every little bit can make a difference. Rainwater has a multitude of uses. It can be used for the garden, laundry, and home cleaning.

Garden lovers rejoice

Have you ever noticed how lush and green the garden is after a good drenching of rain? Natural rainwater isn’t chlorinated, and is higher in nitrogen than regular tap water. These factors are great to boost your buds, according to leading green thumbs. Your indoor plants will love it too.

Cut costs

The comforting sound of rain pattering on your roof can also be music to your budget.

The quality of water flowing from the gutter can affect filtration costs. Filtration technology is largely simple and easy to maintain. Yet, when rainwater flows down into the tank – the dirtier the water, the quicker the filtration system needs to be changed. It all starts with a good gutter! 

Have you checked out Gutter Guard yet? It keeps leaves and debris out of the rainwater collection system. If there is a lot of organic matter going into the rainwater tank, it will break down, and cause smelly rancid water.

Another budget-friendly benefit is that rainwater is naturally ‘softer’ than tap water, which may lesson the need for fabric softener when washing clothes. However, you need to make sure the harvested rainwater is suitably filtered to prevent discolouration on laundry items.

Is it safe to drink?

With the right filtration system, rainwater can be used for drinking. Some say it is even tastier than tap water.

There are options when it comes to choosing a filter system. For instance, some people opt for a “first flush” device to divert the initial few litres to the garden to eliminate any coarse debris. Not to mention, a well-maintained roof is key to optimise water purification.

Refer to the Australian Environmental Health Committee for further advice on water quality and testing.

Most filter canisters should be changed every six months or so, depending upon the amount of sediment they collect. If you notice the water pressure dropping in your system, it is a sign that your filter needs changing.

How to choose a tank

If you have decided to install a rainwater tank, the next step is to find one that best suits your needs.  

Firstly, estimate how much rainfall is expected in your area. Search the Bureau of Meteorology to get an idea. The tank size will also vary depending on where you live. You may want a larger tank for more security in scarce rainfall areas.

Consider what purpose you are using the water for. A large garden irrigation project will obviously need more water for example.

Next, calculate how much water your roof can harvest. Multiply your rainfall (mm) by roof surface area (m2). Here is a handy calculator by Tankulator.

Depending upon the size of your backyard, you may want to consider whether an underground tank, or above ground tank is best.

Once you have established this, it is important to stay within council guidelines to prevent flooding issues, and correctly manage overflow.

Did you know Gutter-Vac also offers a tank cleaning service to leave your water crystal clear, and ready to go? Get in touch for a free quote.

How mould in your home can be a health risk

It is no secret mould thrives in damp environments, and Queensland has been experiencing a high level of rainfall in the last couple of months. However, did you know hidden mould may be posing a potential health threat to you and your family?

There are a number of ways this unsightly, unwanted visitor can creep its way into your home, and it all starts with damp, ill-ventilated areas.

If your house has insufficient roof drainage, it is quite common to find a coating of mould on roof tiles.  This can then weaken the structure, and may make your roof more vulnerable to leaks.

Also, left untreated, mould on the roof has the potential to spread to other areas in your home. Mould spores produced outside can easily transpire into the home through the air.

Walls and ceilings are prone to mould growth due to poor insulation or rainwater leaking through the roof.

Mould in your home has associated health problems such as asthma, even if you do not have a pre-existing allergy. Pregnant women, children, and those with pre-existing allergies, respiratory conditions, or immune disorders are most susceptible.

The Australian Allergy Centre recommends cleaning your gutters on a regular basis to minimise mould risk.  They highlight the importance of keeping your house structures dry by ensuring adequate roof drainage. 

Symptoms of mould allergy include:

  • Sneezing, coughing
  • Eye irritation
  • Itchy eyes, nose and throat
  • In some cases, fatigue
  • Asthma
  • Eczema
  • Dry skin

You can identify mould by tell tale splotches, spots, streaks, or ‘fuzz’. It can be a variety of colours such as grey, black, brown, green or white. It is also often accompanied by a musty odour.

It should be removed as soon as it is noticed to prevent further structural damage and minimise potential health risks.

It is recommended to get your roof inspected and gutters cleaned at least once a year to stop the problem before it starts. Mould feeds on organic matter such as decaying leaves, and dust. Damp matter lying around in the gutter is a smorgasbord for mould.

Other ways to prevent interior mould include making sure damp areas such as the kitchen and bathroom are well ventilated by opening windows regularly and maintaining general cleanliness. Repair leaking plumbing as soon as the problem presents. Also, make use of exhaust fans if applicable. A natural vinegar solution works quite well to clean areas inside. Pop some vinegar in a spray bottle and spray onto mouldy areas. Wipe off with warm water after an hour. Exercise caution when using commercial bleaching solutions as this may cause tiles to become more porous, which in turn can make them more prone to mould.  Also, sometimes bleach just changes the colour of the mould, without eradicating it.

Externally, if the mould problem is covering a large area, or if members of the household are sensitive to mould, it is best to call in the professionals.

Mould overgrowth on your driveway or other concreted areas can be a serious slip hazard. However, this is easily resolved through pressure cleaning, which is a service we also offer.

Get in touch if you would also like to learn more about EnviroClean, which is a safe and environmentally friendly strategy for exterior surfaces.  It is fantastic for roofs, paths, driveways and walls. Best of all, it reactivates every time it rains so you can keep mould off your mind.

Don’t DIY…

Recently Phil arrived to do a single-story house clean for a lovely fellow who mentioned that his previous gutter cleaner was 62 years old and had suffered a heart attack while on the roof. Luckily the ambulance arrived in time and rushed him to the hospital – the poor man needed a triple bypass two days later. Turns out the ‘gutter cleaner’ was the customer himself!

This is why he now uses the excellent services of Phil and the team here at Gutter-Vac Brisbane North East. Our proprietary vacuuming system is convenient, safe, and offers superior value. All our operators take safety very seriously, are trained in working at heights and carry a minimum of $10,000,000 in public liability insurance.

So, don’t risk your personal safety – contact us on 1300 654 253 for an obligation free quote.

Gutter-Vac National Multi-Unit Franchisee of the Year 2013

Phil and Leanne Valencour were awarded the top gong for Multi-Unit National Franchisee of the Year 2013 at the recent Gutter-Vac National Conference.

Phil and Leanne own and operate four Gutter-Vac franchises:

Congratulations Phil and Leanne on a fantastic result!