Frequently Asked Questions
If you have any additional questions, please reach out.
DO YOU EVER GET TO DO ANYTHING REALLY COOL?
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I ACCEPT MY ESTIMATE? WHEN WILL MY SERVICE BE SCHEDULED?
After you accept your estimate online you will receive a confirmation email and we will contact you as quickly as possible to schedule, usually within one to two business days. Our appointment availability varies from a day or two out to a couple of weeks out during our busiest seasons.
DO I NEED TO BE HOME WHILE YOU ARE PERFORMING SERVICES?
For all of our exterior maintenance services (i.e., moss removal and treatment, gutter cleaning, pressure washing), you do not need to be home while the service is being completed. Just make sure all gates are accessible, windows are closed, and there are no pets outside. For interior window cleaning, we will need access to the interior of your home.
WHEN AND HOW DO I PAY?
IS THIS INSURANCE AND LICENSING THING REALLY A BIG DEAL?
Yes. Here is the key: the law is really clear that if you hire someone to work for you and they do damage, or if they get hurt, you are liable. That means you have to pay for it. It is really that simple.
So if you hire a couple of guys off Craigslist, or that knock on your door, and they don’t have both liability and workers comp insurance, you are liable for whatever happens. Because the law says they are your employees.
If they run over the neighbor’s child or pet, if they drop a ladder on a neighbor’s car and cause personal or property damage, you are liable. If they fall off the roof and get hurt (or say they fell off the roof—stranger things have happened) you are liable for their medical expenses. The few dollars you might save by hiring unlicensed, uninsured people could mean that you end up spending $20,000 or $30,000 in medical expenses. Likely? No. Possible? Absolutely. Is it worth the risk? You decide.
Because we are licensed General Contractors, proof of our insurance is posted on the CCB website. You are covered.
HOW IMPORTANT IS SAFETY TO YOU?
Very important. Working on a ladder and on a roof is a dangerous job. We are serious about the safety of all of our employees. Taking safety seriously often takes more time, which increases costs, but it’s the right thing to do. We follow all OSHA requirements.
Read more about why we take safety seriously, and why we recommend you stay off your roof and ladders: May You Live Long and Prosper.
HOW DO YOU PRICE YOUR ROOF AND GUTTER CLEANING SERVICES? WINDOW CLEANING?
We do the best job at the fairest price that we can. Our roof cleaning and gutter cleaning services are priced based on a combination of the length of your gutters, the pitch of your roof, the size of your roof, the type of your roof, ladder access, and the type of ladder needed. All of these factors contribute to the difficulty of and cost associated with your services.
Window cleaning is almost always priced on a per window basis, with adjustments for type of window, and how high we have to go on ladders to clean. Storm windows cost more, because they are a lot more work. True divided lights cost more, for the same reason.
We do have minimum prices, since there is always a certain cost just to get a crew to your job.
ARE YOUR PRICES SET ONCE QUOTED?
Our estimates are based on normal labor required for any given service when appropriate routine maintenance has been performed on a property. If routine maintenance has not been performed, please inform us during the estimating process so your estimate reflects the actual work required. If our crew arrives on site and assesses abnormal conditions, including, but not limited to, severely compacted gutters/downspouts or heavy or resistant moss, then there will be additional charges for the labor required to complete the service.
Window cleaning estimates provided using an approximate window count will have a window count performed at the time of service and will be invoiced according to the onsite window count.
WHY DO I NEED TO CLEAN MY GUTTERS?
It helps to understand why you have gutters. The gutters collect rain from your roof and prevent the rain from falling off the edge of your roof next to your foundation. Clogged gutters may lead to water against your foundation, water in your basement or crawl space, water in your ceiling or in your attic, all of these cause dry rot, water damage, and mold growth, among other things. Simply keeping your gutters clean can prevent 95% of all water intrusion!
The water from the gutters passes out a pre-manufactured hole in your gutter and through a piece of hardware called an outlet, then down the downspout. These outlets can be of varied sizes, which directly impacts how much water can flow through the outlet to exit the gutter at any one time.
The function of the downspout is to funnel the water that the gutter has collected and released through the outlet to a drain system (or water barrel or location) that carries the water away from your foundation. It may lead to a storm drain system or the downspout may empty on the ground several feet away from your foundation.
The critical part in all this is that the water stays away from your foundation, siding, roof, and landscaping. So you clean your gutters to prevent mold, mildew, dry rot, flooding, and property damage that results from having water intrusion in your house. It is a health issue (mold and mildew), a structural issue (dry rot and foundation) and a financial issue (flood restoration, mold remediation and rebuilding). These are all expensive, and all can be prevented by investing in the routine maintenance of cleaning your gutters a couple times a year.
MY GUTTERS SEEM CLEAN, WHY ARE THEY OVERFLOWING?
Several things can cause gutters to overflow, even if they look clean. Your downspout may be clogged; your in-ground drain system might be clogged; your roof configuration may cause the water to shoot past the gutters in heavy rains; your outlets might be too small. Sometimes, not often, it just rains so hard that your perfectly functional gutter system can’t handle the volume of water.
HOW MANY TIMES PER YEAR SHOULD MY GUTTERS BE CLEANED?
If you don’t have any trees around your house or within a few hundred feet of your house, you should still plan to clean your gutters; we recommend about every other year. This makes sure that roof gravel or other debris is not building up in your gutters. Otherwise, the roof gravel will eventually clog your drain system.
Deciduous Trees–twice (maybe three times) a year:
If you have deciduous trees around or near your house (that means the leaves fall off in the fall and re-grow in the spring), you should clean your gutters twice a year.
First in the spring/summer after all the leaves and blossoms are done blooming. This will get the debris that comes from the growing leaves and blossoms out of your gutters, leaving them clear for when the first fall rains come, but the leaves haven’t fallen off the trees yet.
If you don’t do the spring/summer cleaning, all that debris will be up there, and cause your downspouts to clog and require service before the leaves fall off, leaving you frustrated that you have to get your gutters cleaned twice in quick succession.
Second cleaning should be in the fall/winter to get most of the fallen leaves out of the gutters, and you will be good until the spring/summer cleaning. When you do the spring/summer cleaning, you can usually wait for most of the leaves to fall off in the fall before you clean your gutters. You don’t have to wait for the last leaf to fall in order to get the most value. It’s not the last 10% or 15% of the leaves that usually cause the problem, it’s the first 85%!
If trees surround your house, you may need to clean three times a year: spring, fall, and winter.
Coniferous Trees–three times a year:
If you have coniferous (evergreen) trees around your house, you may need to have your gutters cleaned three times a year. If you have Douglas Fir trees around your house, experience teaches that the best times to clean are November, February and May. That will keep the needles and berries sufficiently out of your gutter system to protect your home.
If you have several Douglas Firs, you may want to ask us about the most effective downspout filters to install. The idea is to keep the needles and berries out of your downspouts and drain system. Conifers basically shed needles all year long, with peak needle sheds coming when the weather changes. The needles must be kept away from your drain system so that it can continue to move the water away from your foundation.
SHOULD I HAVE MY GUTTERS FLUSHED?
We have learned over time that flushing the gutters, that is, cleaning them first, and then running water down the gutters and downspouts, is simply not necessary. If your gutters are properly cleaned, and your downspouts checked and manually unclogged when necessary, there is simply no need to flush them. The goal of gutter cleaning is to make sure your downspouts don’t clog, not to make your gutters clean enough to eat out of—as if you would! So flushing isn’t part of our Signature Service.
However, if you want your gutters and downspouts flushed, we are glad to do it. There is simply a charge for the extra work that it takes.
Some companies clean your gutters by just washing everything in the gutters down your downspouts without removing debris first and then hoping for the best. Since the idea is to not allow anything down your downspouts that would clog your in-ground drain system, we think that washing all your gutter debris down the downspout is a really bad idea. But it is fast, and therefore these companies may charge less money. However, you will spend more on a drain service to clear your underground drains than you will ever save on gutter cleaning.
WHICH STYLE OF GUTTER IS BEST?
It’s partly aesthetics, but–size matters. Gutters come in 3 basic styles: Fascia, 5k, and 6k. We recommend 6k when possible, for the simple reason that it looks great, and holds more water per linear foot than the other two styles.
We were recently called by a property management company to solve a problem: a gutter was overflowing, even though they knew the gutter and the downspout were clean.
It didn’t take much to figure out the problem: too much roof, too little gutter.
The architect had designed a roof that dumped the water from 1,600 square feet of roof into a 7-foot length of fascia style gutter. Every inch of rain that falls on that roof means that there are 1,000 gallons of water to be moved off the roof.
The solution: remove the fascia style gutter and install 6k style gutter, along with a 3×4-inch outlet and a 3×4-inch downspout. Here is why: 6k gutter holds about 44% more water per linear foot than fascia style gutter, and the larger outlet and downspout allows much more water to exit the gutter more quickly The increased capacity of the gutter and the increased through-put of the system solved the problem.
Fascia style is what you probably have if your home was built in the 70’s or later. It was generally made of steel, so it will rust out eventually, and the downspouts were also steel 2×3-inch plain square.
If you have overflows in heavy rains, or if you are seeing rust spots or streaks on your gutters, it may be time to think about replacement with larger capacity aluminum gutters and downspouts.
WHICH STYLE OF DOWNSPOUT IS BEST?
It does matter: Plain-square downspouts look sleek and modern, but they tend to catch debris in the sharp angles that are cut in the metal. Also the cut metal isn’t painted, so it tends to rust over time. Corrugated downspouts are curved instead of angled, with less chance of catching debris in the curves. There is no exposed metal to rust. And they have a larger capacity for water to run down. Altogether corrugated downspouts are a better choice, even though they may look clunky to some eyes.
WHAT ARE OUTLETS AND WHY ARE OUTLETS IMPORTANT?
The outlet is the manufactured hole that connects your gutter to the downspout. It determines the amount of water that can get from the gutter into the downspout. If it is too small, not enough water can flow through the outlet, and the gutters, even though completely clean, can back up and overflow. Think about it this way: if you run water into your bathtub faster than it can drain out, your bathtub will overflow. So will your gutters.
Let’s do some math: remember the old formula for the area of a circle? It’s Area=pi (3.14) times the radius of the circle (r) times itself, or r squared. If you have a standard 1 inch round outlet, the radius is .5 inches, so the formula says the area is .5 x .5 = .25 times pi (3.14) or .785 square inches. That’s the actual size of the hole the water goes through.
If you have 1.5 inch round outlet, the surface area is 1.76 square inches, which means more than twice as much water can flow through it at the same time. Half as much likelihood of your gutters overflowing.
If you have a 2 inch diameter outlet (which is practically about as big as you can get without reengineering your downspout), the formulas say the surface area is over 3.14 square inches, again, almost double the 1.5 inch outlet, and over 4 times the surface area of the 1 inch outlet!
So if your gutters overflow in really heavy rains for no apparent reason, the first place to look is whether or not your outlets are too small. It may be (and probably is) that simple.
SHOULD I INSTALL GUTTER COVERS (GUTTER SCREENS)?
No, we don’t think so.
4 reasons why we don’t like gutter covers:
1. The gutter covers that have wide enough openings to let water in usually have to be cleaned about half as often, but because the gutter covers have to be removed and then put back in place, which increases labor time, it costs twice as much to clean them. So there really isn’t a cost savings for maintenance.
2. Gutter covers that don’t let any debris into the gutters tend to accumulate the debris on top of the screen, forming a mat that the water runs over and directly down to the foundation, defeating the purpose of the gutter, which is to keep the water away from your foundation, siding, basement, etc.
3. Gutter covers promote mold, algae, and moss growth underneath the cover and in the gutters. This not only impedes drainage from the gutters, but also is smelly and unhealthy.
4. Gutter covers promote moisture and moss growth at the edge of your roof, where your roof is the most vulnerable.
You can see photos of gutter covers that led to roof damage and water intrusion on our Facebook page here or read more about gutter covers on our blog here.
IF I DON’T USE GUTTER COVERS, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Routine gutter cleaning. Since the real goal is to keep your downspouts clear, we often recommend a strainer or filter directly over the outlet to keep debris out of the downspout and let water pass through. What type depends largely on what kind of trees are around your house.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD MY ROOF BE TREATED FOR MOSS?
Any time you see green moss growing, it is past time to treat. It is important for the life and integrity of your roof that you not let moss grow on it. So if you can see moss, you waited too long.
For preventative maintenance, how often you treat your roof depends on architecture and environment.
Plan to treat every three years if your roof gets plenty of light and air, and has a fairly flat, regular pitch.
You will probably need to treat at least every other year if your roof is steep, or has a complicated roof line (which creates shaded areas on the roof), whether or not you have a lot of trees.
You will likely need treatment every one to two years if your roof is shaded by trees, or you have a north-facing roof surface, depending on the density of your tree coverage.
You may well need to treat every year if your roof is surrounded by trees, particularly on the south, east, or west sides of your home.
Again, light and air on the roof helps prevent moss infestation. It is important to keep branches at least three feet off your roof. You may need an arborist to trim your trees back. Whatever it costs, it is cheaper than a new roof years before you should need one.
The insurance industry is realizing the effect of moss growing on your roof. Many companies now require removal and treatment of moss before they will issue or renew a homeowners policy. Why? Because allowing moss to grow on your roof can cut the useful life of your roof in half and cause significant damage. That new 30-year roof will last about 15 years if you allow heavy moss growth to infest and remain on your roof.
WHAT HAPPENS TO A ROOF WITH MOSS?
Moss grows into your shingles and eats away at your roof. On composition roofs, moss separates the roof gravel from the shingle (roof gravel inhibits UV rays from deteriorating the underlying roofing material).
Moss lifts your shingles allowing water to blow up under your shingles.
Moss soaks up and holds water on your roof and under your shingles leading to rot, mold and decay.
Moss deforms your shingles, making the edges curved, instead of straight. This makes your roof much more susceptible to wind damage and having shingles blown off.
WHY IS HIRING A LICENSED COMMERCIAL PESTICIDE OPERATOR IMPORTANT?
ORS Chapter 634 requires that any company advertising or applying pesticides (moss treatment) have a Commercial Pesticide Operator License, issued by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) after a licensing exam. Their employees applying the treatment must also be licensed. They must use only products with labels showing EPA approval for the use of the product.
Advertising or applying pesticides (including moss treatment) without the ODA license, or applying unlabeled products, subjects the person doing so to both civil and criminal penalties. A person knowingly hiring an unlicensed person or company may also be liable.
To protect yourself and the public from illicit business operations, we recommend that when seeking bids for pesticide (moss treatment) application you require any bidder to demonstrate proof of proper licensing by providing the Certified Pesticide Operator License number issued by the ODA.
Action Northwest’s Commercial Pesticide Operator License number is AG-L 1004234CPO.
IS MOSS KILLER PESTICIDE SAFE FOR ME AND/OR FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?
Yes, provided that it is properly applied in the proper amounts. That’s another reason that it is important to have properly licensed Pesticide Applicators do your work. How much and how to apply the moss treatment is part of what we have to know to be licensed.
That being said, you, your pets, and your children should be indoors when moss killer is being applied. We make sure your plants are safe during application. If you have special plants that need extra care, please let us know during the quoting process so that we can plan for that.
HOW DOES THE WEATHER IMPACT MY SERVICE?
It is usually a bad idea to clean windows in the rain, unless you have large overhanging eaves. Best to reschedule.
We prefer not to treat moss in the rain. If the roof is not too steep, and the rain is not too hard, we can do a moss treatment in the rain.
We clean gutters in the rain all the time. However, even gutter cleaning takes longer and is more difficult in the rain. So if you are the second or third appointment on any given rainy day, we may take longer to get there than we originally planned.
We stay home. You should, too.
Same as snow. None of the services that we provide can be done efficiently in freezing weather. It’s too dangerous to walk on roofs. Frozen gutters are very difficult, if not impossible to clean without risk of damage to the gutters. So we wait for the ice to thaw out.
When the weather is hot, we cannot clean exterior windows, especially if they are in direct sunlight. The glass gets too hot and evaporates the glass cleaning solution before we can squeegee it off, leaving streaks on the windows.
In direct sunlight a dark colored roof can be over 20 degrees hotter than the air. When it gets so hot that our moss treatment evaporates in the heat before, or as, it hits the roof, we have to quit. And when it gets that hot, walking on your roof can cause damage to the shingles. So we stay off your roof when it gets too hot.
High winds make ladder work dangerous. So does lightning. So when these conditions occur, our crews are instructed to get off the roofs and get the ladders on the ground.
Even mild winds can make it unsafe to treat moss, due to drift of the moss killer. Our crews are licensed and trained to make that determination.
Bottom line: severe weather may or will cause your work to be postponed and rescheduled. During severe weather conditions we will do our best to communicate the situation to you so that you can know what to expect.