Having a reliable and properly functioning gutter system is one of the most overlooked aspects of home maintenance. However, clogged gutters can cause extensive and expensive damage to your home if left unchecked. Learning why regular Gutter Cleaning is essential can help homeowners prioritize this task.
Prevent Water Damage to Your Home’s Exterior
When gutters become clogged with leaves, debris, and sediment, they can no longer effectively divert rainwater runoff away from your home. The excess water can saturate the soil around your home’s foundation, causing it to expand or settle unevenly. This soil movement exerts pressure on foundation walls and footings, leading to cracking and structural damage.
Water overflow can also cause exterior wood rot as moisture seeps into siding, window frames, fascia boards, trim, and decking. The constant dampness accelerates the deterioration and decay of the wood. Even masonry is at risk, as moisture trapped behind siding and where it meets masonry can cause cracks as water repeatedly freezes and thaws.
Uncontrolled roof runoff also accelerates erosion and washing away of soil around the perimeter of your home. This can further undermine the stability of foundation walls.
Prevent Exterior and Interior Paint Damage
When gutters leak, the excess water cascades down exterior walls, eventually causing paint blisters, cracks, and peeling. Painted surfaces take the brunt of damage, requiring extensive prep work, priming, and repainting to restore.
Likewise, moisture penetrating exterior walls from overflowing gutters can also cause interior paint to peel and crack. Water stains on interior walls and ceilings from saturated exterior walls can be challenging to remove and often require sanding priming, and repainting of the damaged areas.
Prevent the Growth of Mold, Mildew, and Fungus
Gutters blocked with debris hold moisture against your home’s exterior, creating the perfect conditions for mould, mildew, and fungus growth. These organisms can discolour and degrade exterior surfaces.
Worse still, moisture ingress can allow mould spores to take hold inside your home, where you and your family are constantly exposed. Mold is associated with upper respiratory issues, asthma attacks, and allergic reactions. Extensive mould growth requires professional remediation.
Avoid Flooding of Basements and Crawl Spaces
When gutters fail to redirect rainwater, the excess moisture has to go somewhere. Often, this is in low-lying areas like basements and crawl spaces through foundation cracks and perforations. Significant flooding requires extraction equipment to dry out the space and extensive repairs to fix water damage.
Even minor seepage over time can lead to microbial growth and damage in enclosed foundation spaces. Wooden structural components can quickly decay, while masonry foundations develop cracks as water repeatedly freezes and thaws in the enclosed space.
Prevent Damage to Landscaping and Property
Improperly functioning gutters lead to erosion and washout of topsoil, damage vegetation and landscaping, and undermine trees. Valuable trees near your home’s foundation can be weakened and destabilized without adequate root support and proper drainage.
In addition, flooded basements and crawl spaces breed termites, carpenter ants, and other wood-destroying insects. This infestation can spread to other structural wooden components of your home over time, leading to extensive damage.
Keep Your Family Safe
Your home should be a haven for your family. But decaying exterior surfaces, accumulated moisture, and mould growth create hazards for your loved ones. Rotting wooden deck and porch surfaces can become weakened and unstable over time. Sections of loose, peeling exterior paint can fail altogether and cause injuries. Mould spore inhalation poses respiratory risks.
Making gutter cleaning a regular maintenance task helps preserve your home’s structural integrity and appearance. More importantly, it protects your family by preventing hazardous situations that result from neglecting your gutters. Investing a little time each season into proper gutter maintenance pays off exponentially in keeping your family safe and avoiding thousands of damage costs.
How Often Should Gutters Be Cleaned?
The frequency of gutter cleaning needed depends on several factors:
– **Trees and foliage** – Homes surrounded by or near trees require more frequent cleaning. Leaf litter from deciduous trees can quickly fill gutters. Evergreen needles and twigs are also problematic.
– **Weather and precipitation** – Areas with frequent rain, thunderstorms, and heavy snow need gutters cleaned more often. More runoff means faster gutter clogging.
– **Roof size and pitch** – Larger and steeper roofs deposit more debris into gutters than smaller, shallower ones. Multi-level homes also require cleaning more frequently than a single story.
– **Geographic region** – Climate impacts gutter maintenance needs. Dry regions may need only annual cleaning. Wetter areas need biannual or quarterly cleanings. Coastal zones require the most frequent cleaning.
Generally, gutters should be cleaned each spring and fall at a minimum. During peak foliage seasons, monthly cleanings are ideal to prevent blockages. If you notice overflow or leakage, have them cleaned immediately.
FAQs About Gutter Cleaning
What are the signs I need my gutters cleaned?
– Visible debris, leaves, or sediment in gutters
– Water overflowing during rain events
– Leaks along seams and corners of gutters
– Rainwater dripping from edges and not flowing through downspouts
– Ground erosion or flooded areas around the foundation
What damages can I expect if I don’t clean my gutters regularly?
Neglecting gutter cleaning can lead to wood rot, mould growth, foundation damage, flooded basements, peeling exterior paint, damaged landscaping, overflow into window wells, damage to fascia boards, soil erosion, mosquito breeding grounds, and more.
How can I safely clean gutters myself?
– Use a sturdy ladder and secure it properly.
– Wear protective eyewear and gloves.
– Remove debris with a trowel, scoop, or gloved hands.
– Rinse gutters with garden hose using a nozzle brush attachment.
– Make sure the ladder base is secure and consider having someone hold it.
– Never lean too far to the side as a ladder can tip.
How can I make gutter cleaning more accessible and faster?
– Use gutter guards to filter out debris and sediment.
– Install gutter screens to keep out leaves and pine needles.
– Consider professional gutter cleaning services.
– Use a shop vac with a hose attachment to vacuum debris.
– Rinse gutters immediately after tree foliage falls.
How much does gutter cleaning cost?
If hiring a professional, costs typically range from $80 – $250 for a small home to $700+ for a large multi-level house. DIY cleaning costs very little but requires more physical effort and time.
Refrain from regular gutter cleaning and maintenance spells trouble for any homeowner. Clogged gutters lead to thousands in costly exterior and interior damage over time. More importantly, deteriorating conditions put your family at risk physically and from health hazards like mould. Investing a little time and effort into preventative gutter cleaning protects your home investment and keeps loved ones safe. Most homes need gutters cleaned at least twice yearly to prevent problems.