Spring Cleaning: cleaning out the rain gutters

(I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.)

One big job I’ve wanted to tackle since moving in is cleaning out the rain gutters. For some reason, presumably leaves and debris, they overflow when it rains yet hardly any water actually exits the downspout.

I finally got up the energy and drug the ladder out to see what’s the deal with the gutters…

Holy guacamole, they were crammed to the hilt with copious amounts of leaves and sludge.

The previous owners apparently tried to remedy the leaves situation by installing some leaf guard mesh stuff. I’m sure at one point it worked great, but after years of rotting in the gutters, it had caved in on itself and leaves filled up on top of it – pretty much defeats the purpose of the leaf guard.

I grabbed a small shovel trowel (I totally had to google that. I’m obviously not a gardener!) and got to work digging the built up sludge. It was mainly leaves, but also a sludgy material on the bottom consisting of decomposing leaves, dirt, and lots of gravel-looking stuff that came off the shingles.

Once the bulk of the gross stuff was cleaned out I figured the best way to clean out the rest of the gunk was to just wash it out with the garden hose. It worked perfectly, probably considering the gutters were made for, well, water. Dur.

Enter True Value Hardware. I found all sorts of awesome goodies for rain gutters (am I the only person that geeks out over cool gadgets and gizmos for rain gutters? Yes? Thought so.) on their website and placed my order. (If you ship the items to your closest store and pick it up there they don’t charge you any shipping. Woot woot!)

I snagged a boat load of Snap-In Gutter Screens and several Decorative Splash Blocks.

My goal with the Gutter Screens is to block all leaves AND SQUIRRELS from getting in the gutters. Random side story: Ben’s grandma used to live in Arizona, and she was obsessed with squirrels. She said they didn’t have any where she lived. I used to laugh when she would come visit and flip out over squirrels because we have TOO MANY squirrels here and they are a nuisance. Squirrels and deer, oh my word.

The weather finally got nicer and the clouds parted and it was time to install the Gutter Screens. I was a tad naive in my excitement. I installed the first one and got a big ol’ womp-womp. They were too big.

Oops. I guess not all gutters are created equally. Should have measured before buying! Lesson learned.

Never one to take no for an answer, I decided to cut them to size. Seemed like a logical option.

Worked like a charm. It’s almost like it was meant to be. Except the edge looked terrible.

So I just tucked it under the lip of the gutter. To be perfectly honest, I like my way of installing them even better. They are suppose to sit on top of the gutter, but they seemed so floppy that way – like they might fall off, and tucking them under really wedges them in and makes them feel very secure.

After the first guard was installed and cut while in place, I wised up and realized it’s much easier to cut them before installing them. If you ever install these in your gutters, cut them first, then install.

Okay, so lets talk about the installation process. The Gutter Screens have a clip-like edge on one side that clips snugly around the flashing under the shingles.

What is flashing? I’m so glad you asked! Flashing is sheet metal installed at any break in a shingled roofline to prevent leaks. I found this nifty diagram that shows you exactly where your flashing is located.

Here’s a close-up of the Gutter Screen attached to the flashing under the shingles. It took a little maneuvering around the shingles to get the guards on, but once in place they fit like a glove.

The corners were a little bit more tricky, but honestly, they ended up being my favorite part of the installation because they broke up the monotony of installing guard after guard. I just cut the guard at a 45 degree angle (totally eye-balled it) and popped it in.

One side done…

And a perfect 90 degree angle right there folks.

Here they are, all installed and looking fly.

Is it weird that I get giddy-excited and proud when I look at the corners? Ya, it’s probably weird. Just pretend like I didn’t say that. Ahem. Oh, check out the Decorative Splash Block below the corner. I totally got both items in the same photo.

Speaking of the Splash Blocks, not only are they “decorative”, they also are functional and help direct water away from your foundation. Had the gutter down spouts not been totally clogged with gross leaves before I cleaned them all out, water would have been drowning our foundation which is apparently not good for it. I figured if I was going to clean out the gutters I better direct all the future rain away from the foundation a la these handy splash blocks.

I think we have some weeding in the not so distant future…

Are you ready for outdoor Spring Cleaning? How often do you clean out your gutters? Ever? This is the first house I’ve ever owned that had gutters, so this was a new experience for me. Hopefully the new gutter guards will keep all the gunk out of the gutters so I don’t have to clean them out again any time soon!


The master bathroom is looking a lot less fishy

Hey! Do you remember my master bathroom?

Ya, totally not my favorite color in the world. It reminds me of salmon. No thanks. Well, I shared a post today over at True Value’s blog, Start Right, Start Here (this link only works from a computer, not a device ie: phone, tablet, etc), about how paint can totally transform a room. And guess what room got a new paint makeover?

This guy.

Click on through (this link only works from a computer, not a device ie: phone, tablet, etc) to see the new paint color. Now it’s time to bring in the decor and make this place really shine!


Recycling when you don’t have curbside pick up

(I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.)

Our old house had curbside recycling. They would pick it up in a separate garbage can along with the garbage. It was so easy and I never thought much about it. We didn’t even have to sort it! Recycling for so many years got me into the habit, and now I cringe if I toss something recyclable into the garbage.

Fast forward to our new house. This new house does not have curbside recycling. At first I didn’t really know what to do with my recyclable material, so I just threw it away, which drove me nuts. I hate throwing away a perfectly good piece of plastic, metal, or cardboard when it can be recycled instead. Our earth has finite resources so recycling is a very easy way you can help make the earth a better place for future generations.

One day my daughter came home from school and started working on a craft. She asked me for a large box and some markers. I happily gave her the supplies she wanted and about an hour later she surprised us with our very own recycling container.

Apparently she had learned about recycling at school, and the child is very impressionable, so naturally she came home and immediately did what she could to help us be better at saving the planet. We started to fill the box, and once it was almost full I figured I’d better figure out where to drop off the items for recycling. A quick google search showed me several recycling facilities in the area. After a few phone calls I found out that each center is unique. Some take glass, some don’t. Some take plastics #1 – #7, some only take up to #3 or so. Some charge you to drop off your collected items, some actually PAY YOU for your recyclable material. Obviously we will be driving to the one that pays us. :)

However, all the centers I called want all the items sorted before you bring them in. Our old neighborhood just let you toss all of it together into a bin, so this sorting business is new for us. Yes, it is slightly more inconvenient to collect, sort, and drop off the material, but it makes us feel better about all the trash we consume and throw away, and the kids are very motivated because I told them they can split the money earned from dropping off the materials each month.

To help us streamline the production I headed to True Value to pick up a few supplies.

I already had the green container (the previous owners left it), but I needed a few more containers so we could sort the materials as we collected them. I purchased two garbage cans (these exact ones aren’t on the True Value website, but here are a variety of other options) and I also picked up a very cool Feed & Eject Can Crusher for all the soda cans. If you crush them you can fit a ton more in your bag before it’s full.

As you can see, we are partial to Diet Dr Pepper over here. In Texas they start you young on the Dr Pepper. ;)

I bought 2 garbage cans from True Value: One of plastics and one for metal.

The green container I am using for paper, magazines, and cardboard. As the bin fills up I will tie each stack of paper into a little bundle. Collecting the paper for recycling also helps me feel less guilty about my magazine addiction (I get Us Weekly and BHG each month plus an obscene amount of catalogs).

Once each container is full I just start a new bag and save the full ones for when I make the trip to the recycling center to drop everything off.

I don’t have one for glass yet because our local center won’t take glass. The closest place that takes glass is about 45 minutes from my house. I’m already feeling quite guilty about tossing the glass, so I’m sure I’ll add a 3rd garbage can to the mix soon enough.

Does your city or neighborhood have recycling? If so, I am jealous! Do you recycle? What tips and tricks do you have that make it easier for you? I would love to have a few more ideas for streamlining my system and making it even better!

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