How often should you clean out your gutters?

How often should you clean out your gutters?

Posted by: Amanda White, Jan, 18, 2019

It’s dirty work, but everybody has to do it. Your gutters need to be kept clean and free of dead leaves, birds’ nests, and other debris. It’s just a fact of life when it comes to owning a home.  Dry leaves, tree branches, and other material can accumulate in your gutters during the dry summer and you won’t notice until your gutters start overflowing during the first big rain of the season. Or worse, you won’t notice at all. Today I’ll answer a few questions many homeowners have about cleaning their gutters, including why it’s necessary, how often it’s necessary, and most importantly how to clean your gutters.

What can happen if you do not clean out your gutters?

Leaky Gutters & Mold

If you don’t clean your gutters, the first problem to crop up will be clogged gutters and downspouts leading to standing water collecting in your gutters and overflowing. As dead leaves decompose, the water in your gutters will become filthy and mold will start growing.

In our wet climate, mold is common and can cause a host of health problems if it gets inside your house. And it’s tricky (and expensive) to thoroughly clean, so it’s best to stop mold before it starts.

Leaking Roofs & Basements

Replacing your roof is a major undertaking– even if you put a new roof on top of your existing roof. The best strategy is to get the most out of your current roof by protecting it from the elements.

If you put off cleaning your gutters, your roof can and will leak. Water that doesn’t drain to the ground can accumulate on the roof, soaking through shingles and causing significant damage.

The same goes for your basement. If your gutter’s downspouts are clogged, don’t drain far enough away from the house

Bugs & Other Critters
Gutters are a magnet for insects, squirrels, birds, mice and other animals. Warm moist decomposing leaves are a rich source of food for many pests and once they’ve settled into your gutters, their next stop will be inside your house.

If you discover birds or other wildlife, call your local animal control center for advice.

, or are disconnected from your gutters, water can seep into your basement.

This can cause damage to anything you have stored in your basement, as well as to your foundation itself. You might also damage your furnace, circuit breakers, and other utilities in your basement.

Cracked Foundations

A cracked foundation is a major headache for any homeowner. Repairs can be very costly. But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By extending your downspouts away from your home (and making sure water is flowing through them), you’ll protect your foundation from cracks. Foundation cracks are caused by water damage and by expanding ice during the coldest part of the winter.

Bugs & Other Critters

Gutters are a magnet for insects, squirrels, birds, mice and other animals. Warm moist decomposing leaves are a rich source of food for many pests and once they’ve settled into your gutters, their next stop will be inside your house.

If you discover birds or other wildlife, call your

Bugs & Other Critters
Gutters are a magnet for insects, squirrels, birds, mice and other animals. Warm moist decomposing leaves are a rich source of food for many pests and once they’ve settled into your gutters, their next stop will be inside your house.

If you discover birds or other wildlife, call your local animal control center for advice.

Driveway & Yard Damage

When it comes to your lawn and plants, too much water is just as bad as not enough. If your gutters aren’t draining water properly, water can pool up (even underground) killing delicate plants.

Too much water that isn’t draining properly can cause slick mold to grow on your driveway, or freeze into slippery ice during the winter. Both of these problems can lead to falls and potentially serious injuries, especially to kids and older adults.

How Can You Spot Damage From Unclean Gutters?

The best way to spot damage from unclean gutters is before it starts. A visual inspection of your gutters during the fall (before it starts raining) is a great place to start. If you’re not sure what to look for, or aren’t comfortable up on a ladder, a professional inspection can help.

Once the weather turns, here are a few warning signs you can look for inside of your house and in your yard:

*Wear proper protection. Wear proper protection. Wear work gloves and eye protection for your safety.
Don’t just toss the gunk in your gutters on the ground! Put it in a garbage can or bag to be composted. Leaving it on the ground can attract insects.

*Seal any leaks you find. Use a high-quality sealant and make sure you give it enough time to cure.
Pay extra attention to mold. A diluted solution of bleach and water in a spray bottle can be used to clean any mold you come across.
Be safe. Whenever you’re working on a ladder or on your roof, there’s a chance of injury. Have someone help you, don’t overdo, and don’t do anything where you feel unsafe.for your safety.

*Don’t just toss the gunk in your gutters on the ground! Put it in a garbage can or bag to be composted. Leaving it on the ground can attract insects.

*Seal any leaks you find. Use a high-quality sealant and make sure you give it enough time to cure.

*Pay extra attention to mold. A diluted solution of bleach and water in a spray bottle can be used to clean any mold you come across.

*Be safe. Whenever you’re working on a ladder or on your roof, there’s a chance of injury. Have someone help you, don’t overdo, and don’t do anything where you feel unsafe.

How Often Should You Clean Your Gutters?

Like many other questions, the answer is, “it depends!” Many experts recommend cleaning your gutters at least twice a year– once in the late spring and once in the late summer/early fall. But there are a few factors that might make you reconsider.

If you have pine trees growing above your house, consider inspecting your gutters every 3 months. The reason for this is because pine trees shed needles year-round (and they have a lot of needles to shed).

If you’re at a higher elevation, ice is your biggest worry. Making sure your gutters are clean throughout the winter is a bit of a headache, but damage to your roof caused by ice is a real pain. Better to catch it before it starts.

Do You Need to Replace Your Gutters?

Maybe. Depending on the type of gutters you have installed, you should be able to get at least 20 years out of them, assuming they’re properly installed and maintained.

Metal gutters last the longest– hopefully longer than 20 years. Cheaper, plastic or vinyl gutters won’t last as long and may need to be replaced sooner, especially if they get damaged.

Like many other questions, the answer is, “it depends!” Many experts recommend cleaning your gutters at least twice a year– once in the late spring and once in the late summer/early fall. But there are a few factors that might make you reconsider.

If you have pine trees growing above your house, consider inspecting your gutters every 3 months. The reason for this is because pine trees shed needles year-round (and they have a lot of needles to shed).

If you’re at a higher elevation, ice is your biggest worry. Making sure your gutters are clean throughout the winter is a bit of a headache, but damage to your roof caused by ice is a real pain. Better to catch it before it starts.

 

 

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