Believe it or not, gutters that are dirty with debris can do more damage to your house than you think. It can cause anything from water damage to a whole leaky roof.
This is because gutters are made to manage the rainwater flow around your house and lot. It will give the rainwater a path throughout your house’s foundation, landscape, walls, and roof. Without it, your house may just fall apart before its due time.
A neglected gutter can get as bad as having no gutter at all. Debris such as sticks, leaves, and dirt will cause the water to accumulate in all the wrong places. That water will damage your home in no time, in the form of a leaky roof or something worse, both in the exterior and interior of the house. Even worse, gutters that have accumulated debris and water make your house prime property for pests. These include bee honeycombs, mold, and even rodents.
From Toledo Gutter Cleaning, Thomas Singleton, advises us: “If you don’t clean your gutter well enough and thoroughly enough, you may spend hundreds -- even thousands -- of dollars just fixing it.”
“Gutters that are unattended to will end up being a melting pot of pests and insects, right at the top of your home,” he said.
So how often are you meant to clean them?
Several factors determine this, such as your location and how full of trees your yard is. It’s advisable to clean gutters every spring and fall.
Why spring and fall? For homeowners with maple trees, spring gets maple trees dropping their debris and landing them in the gutter. For fall, however, that will be when the leaves of every other tree are falling. So that would be a great time to do some gutter maintenance.
For cleaning the downspouts, TGC recommends having a professional do it. Leaving a downspout accidentally clogged will have an adverse effect on the rest of the gutter. Rain will have a hard time flowing downwards and will reverse its flow to fill up the gutter. If that gutter overflows, it will damage your house.
Determine a personalized gutter cleaning schedule according to the pattern of your debris fall during the seasons. Everyone has a different yard and home, so this will vary from person to person.
However, a standard schedule for cleaning the gutter would be three times a year, or every four months. But if where you live experiences a lot of leaf fall throughout the entire year, you may want to clean more often than that.
Keeping your gutter free of debris at least twice a year should be enough to prevent water damage.
Reducing debris with gutter covers
There are such things as leaf guards. These are meant to, as its name suggests, guard your gutter against leaves. Although this may reduce how often your gutter needs maintenance, that does not mean you should neglect it completely.
With a gutter cover, your thrice-a-year cleaning can be reduced to up to just one cleaning in three years. Again, this may not be exact depending on how good your cover is and, again, how full of trees your yard is.
But even with gutter covers, you should still check up on your gutter at least once a year. Unforeseen debris may get past your covers.
While covers reduce the debris that enters your gutter, it will not keep everything out. About 20 percent of your overall debris can still end up in your gutter. When checking and cleaning, you will also have temporarily take out the gutter cover. This can easily be done by a professional.
Of course, high-quality screens and covers will help your gutter maintenance by a larger margin. The better the quality, the longer you can go without doing your gutter cleaning.
To determine the best screen or cover for you, evaluate the type of trees and debris that are most likely to fall into your gutter. Your chosen cover should be strong enough to withstand that.
Most gutter covers begin at $1500 but can go up to $2500 if your house is particularly large and has a longer gutter.
Is it better to hire a professional or do it yourself?
Plenty of homeowners opt to do their gutter cleaning. However, some do find it to be dangerous. The Consumer Products Safety Commission reported a statistic in 2009 that around 240,000 Americans were sent to the hospital that year just from falling from ladders while cleaning.
Since cleaning on a ladder can be dangerous business, make sure it is sturdy. Also, check the steps of your ladder. You can check that your ladder is on level ground by feeling it out on the first two steps. If your ladder is on sinking ground, for example, you will feel the difference. If you have no hard, level ground under your gutter, get plywood and put it under your ladder. Do not lean your ladder against the gutter either, as your gutter may collapse from the weight.
Safety is a must when cleaning your gutter. People have even broken both hips just from falling from their ladder. So if safety is important to you, another option would be to simply hire a professional. Although it is more costly, the potential injuries from a ladder accident could cost you much more.
A professional cleaner has several tasks in the job: first, they will remove the sticks, leaves, and dirt from the roof. Then they will remove debris from the gutter itself as well as the downspouts. While doing this, they will check for loose spikes in your system and will offer a gutter repair if necessary. If gutters have fallen too far into disrepair, a new gutter installation may be necessary.
Keeping your gutters in tip-top shape will give you peace of mind knowing your system is properly diverting water away from your home structure and foundation – all of which helps to maintain the integrity and value of your home.