As homeowners, keeping our gutters clear and functioning properly should never be out of mind. Our gutters play a crucial role in protecting our home and foundation from water damage. When gutters become clogged with leaves, debris, and sediment, it can lead to some serious issues. Read our handy guide to understand why cleaning out your gutters is so important.
Protecting Your Home from Water Damage
Gutters are designed to catch and divert rainwater runoff from the roof away from your home and its foundation. By channeling this water into downspouts and drainage pipes, a properly functioning gutter system prevents excess water from pooling around and penetrating your home.
However, when gutters accumulate debris such as leaves, twigs, and other matter, the flow of rainwater can be severely obstructed. Clogged gutters can overflow, allowing water to drip down fascia boards in walls. This moisture seepage causes wood rot, erodes mortar between bricks, damages siding, and leaks into your home’s basement or crawlspace.
By routinely cleaning out your gutters, you ensure rainwater and melting snow from roof and gutter systems gets directed away from your home properly. This preventative maintenance keeps the structural integrity of your house intact over the long term and protects your investment from expensive water damage repairs.
Prevent Flooding in Your Basement
In addition to protecting siding and foundations, unclogged gutters also safeguard your basement from flooding during heavy rains. When gutters are clearing working, they divert thousands of gallons of water through downspouts and lateral pipes that dump into drains, retention ponds or splash blocks positioned many feet away from your home’s walls and basement entryways.
However, clogged gutters can cause all this drainage water to end up flooding right next to your house. Hydrostatic pressure buildup can then push moisture right through basement walls and floors, ruining possessions stored below ground and requiring costly professional drying-out repairs.
By taking care of your gutters through periodic cleaning, you ensure heavy spring rains and summer thunderstorms don’t end up flooding your basement. It’s a simple routine maintenance task that saves considerable headache down the road!
Prevent Pest Infestations
Clogged gutters don’t just lead to water issues—they can result in pest infestations as well. Leaves, sticks, acorns and other debris accumulate over time, which can attract rodents, carpenter ants, termites, stinging insects and other unwanted critters right next to your home.
Gutters blocked with soggy decaying organic matter are ripe for colonization. These pests nest and breed in dry areas above the clogs, then chew through wood fascia and soffit overhangs, infest roof rafters in the attic, and find ways into interior walls as well. Left unchecked, serious structural damage from these infiltrators can occur.
By cleaning out gutters regularly, you deprive these nuisance pests of needed nesting habitats near your home. Eliminate their access, keep them at bay, and avoid major pest control issues down the road.
Prolong the Lifespan of Your Gutters
Routinely cleaning out your gutters doesn’t just offer protective benefits—it extends the lifespan of your entire gutter system as well. When gutters are clogged for an extended period, excess weight from debris-filled water causes strain, warps the shape of the gutters, and pulls mounting brackets off fascia boards. The overflowing water also increases erosion and corrosion.
By removing muck and debris buildup through periodic gutter cleanings, you prevent cumbersome damage and keep everything balanced and secure. Your gutters will last considerably longer before needing repairs or replacement—saving you money over time.
How Often to Clean Your Gutters
So how often should responsible homeowners plan to clean out their gutters? While some recommend quick cleanings after every harsh storm, most experts advise thoroughly cleaning gutters at least twice a year—in spring and fall. Clear winter debris in early spring before the rains arrive, then tackle leaves and needles in late fall at the end of tree shedding season.
Some additional factors that might necessitate more frequent gutter cleaning include:
- Nearby deciduous trees like maple, oak, cottonwood, etc.
- Older gutters with more sags, cracks and holes
- A steeply pitched roof
- Multi-story homes which collect more runoff
- Monsoon or hurricane seasons if you live in wet climates
Pay attention after stormy weather and make sure your gutters aren’t restricting too much water flow. Leaks, drips and overflows mean it’s definitely time for another cleaning.
What’s the Best Way to Clean Gutters?
When tackling a gutter cleaning, safety should always come first. Use sturdy ladders and secure footing when working off the ground. Never lean ladders directly against gutters, which risks bending them out of shape.
In terms of clearing out debris, here are some effective options:
- Use a shop-vac on a long extension pole to vacuum out debris. This avoids climbing up and down a ladder repeatedly.
- Try manual cleaning tools like gutter trowels or scoops to scrape out debris and sludge by hand.
- Use pressure washers carefully to break up clogs and soften stuck-on gunk to aid manual removal.
- Rent power gutter vacuum systems, which provide strong suction through hand wands to vacuum debris.
- Install permanent gutter guards, like foam filters or mesh screens, to reduce debris entry in the first place. Just be sure to monitor their effectiveness.
Most professional gutter cleaning companies have powerful wet/dry vacuums mounted on trucks—making fast work of even heavily clogged systems caked with years of grunge! Always ask for proof of liability insurance before hiring any company to clean gutters or perform work on ladders at your home.
For tall multi-story homes, or in cases of illness or physical limitations, hiring professional gutter cleaners to maintain your home’s system is highly recommended. They have the right safety gear and latest vacuum equipment to access and thoroughly clean gutters in less time, while keeping your property safe.
Why Clean Out Gutters: Keep Your Gutters Flowing Freely
By understanding why routine gutter cleaning truly matters for your home’s health and safety, hopefully we impress upon you the importance of staying on top of this necessary maintenance task. Keep leaves, sediment and other debris from accumulating over time. Inspect and clean gutters seasonally, plus after harsh storms. Doing so ensures rainwater and snowmelt moves freely through your drainage system keeping moisture, pests, and structural issues at bay. It also reduces any risk of bodily injury from climbing gutters yourself to contend with preventable clogs all the time. Protect your most valuable asset and keep your gutters clean!