Four Reasons to Keep Gutters Clear

Clearing your gutters may be a chore you keep putting off. However, neglecting your gutters can actually cause expensive damage to your property.

After all, the whole purpose of a gutter system is to allow water to run off of your roof, so it does not harm your home. If you leave your gutters to clog up, over time you could experience problems like mold, rot, roof leaks and even damage to your home’s foundation.

Therefore, it is crucial to regularly clear the debris stuck in your gutters. Additionally, you want to look out for broken hangers, sagging or other issues with your gutter system, and fix the problem as soon as you spot it. Neglect can lead to your whole gutter system requiring replacement. If you are not yet convinced of the importance of clearing your gutters, discover four major reasons why you need to keep your gutters free of debris below.

1.     Foundational Damage

The main job of a gutter system is to guide water off the roof to the ground, and direct it away from the foundation of your home. Unfortunately, a blockage can easily occur if you do not clean your gutters. This causes the water to pour over the sides of the gutters and form a pool around the foundation, rather than away. Pools of water near the foundation create two major issues, as follows:

  • Pooling water makes the soil near your home’s foundation significantly saturated. This expanding soil puts a huge amount of pressure on to the side of your property. Over time, pressure causes your basement and the lower walls of your home to warp inward and crack.
  • The soil could erode once the water drains away. Without the soil there for support, the foundation can begin to settle, resulting in cracks in walls and uneven floors.

In both of these situations, water creates serious damage to the foundation. In a worst-case-scenario, the foundation could collapse. Removing debris from your gutters regularly can help to ensure that water is properly directed away from your home.

2.     Formation of Ice Dams

Ice dams are ridges of ice that form on gutters and the lower edges of rooflines. They prevent snow from draining off the roof, which means the water can pool there and eventually seep into your home. Ice dams can also pull the gutters off of your home. If this happens, it can lead to internal flooding and structural damage. Water damage to your home can create a number of other problems as well, including mold growth.

While ice dams can form on roofs even with clear gutter systems, clogged gutters certainly increase this possibility. By keeping your gutters clear, you are able to help lower the changes of ice dams forming on your house. Removing ice dams by yourself can potentially be very dangerous.  If you need to remove ice dams, it is best to hire a professional roofing contractor. Many gutter cleaning firms also offer an ice dam removal service.

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Along with regularly cleaning and clearing your gutters, avoid ice dams by properly ventilating and insulating your attic. Overly-warm attics are the main cause of ice dams forming. In addition, do not install water heaters and other mechanical equipment in attics.

3.     Damage to Fascia Boards and Siding

Gutter systems are held into position with wooden fascia boards. If your gutters begin to flood and spill over due to debris, it can damage these boards. In particular, the fascia boards begin to deteriorate and rot with excess water. Although fascia boards are fairly inexpensive to replace, it is much easier to clear your gutters so the problem does not happen in the first place.

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Other water damage due to unclear gutters can be more serious. If your home’s siding is constructed of wood and you have not cleared your gutters for a long time, you could be in trouble. Clogged gutters can cause water to overflow and run down this wood siding. This creates rot, mold and other problems that are often expensive to fix.

4.     Negative Impacts on Your Garden

Water damage from overflowing gutters does not only cause damage to your house, it is also a problem for your garden. If excessive water lands on small trees, flowerbeds and shrubs that surround the base of your home, it can have negative impacts on these plants.

Even though plant roots are underneath the soil, they still require air. Drenched soil can become compacted, which means there is little air to reach these roots. Seedlings especially need fluffy soil in order to continue to grow and survive. In addition, flooding waters can cause certain plants to become uprooted if the surrounding soil is dislodged.

How often should gutters be cleared?

How often you need to clear your gutters depends on the climate and landscape in which you live. Leaves and twigs are the main reason gutters get clogged up, so homes in areas with lots of foliage require cleaning more often.

For example, if your house is in the Arizona desert, you might be able to go years without needing to clean your gutters. If you live in a heavily wooded area, it may be necessary to clear your gutter system three or four times a year. However, for most people it is recommended to clear gutters at least twice a year, especially during:

  • Late fall. This is the most important time to clear your gutter system, when most trees have dropped their dead leaves for winter.
  • In springtime, flower petals, maple “helicopters” and seeds can easily build up in your gutters. The majority of deciduous trees drop debris during the spring as well.

When clearing your gutters, remember to clean the vertical channels, as well as the horizontals. You also want to ensure that the downspouts are not clogged as well. All parts of the gutter system need to be cleared if you want to avoid water damage to your home and property.

If you hate clearing gutters, or you are unable to do so by yourself, you can hire a professional to do it for you. The cost of using a gutter cleaning service depends on the type of gutters, as well as their length and height. The majority of firms charge a flat rate per foot of gutter, although prices can increase depending on the complexity of the work involved. For an average-sized home, prices range between $75 and $225. In the end, the investment of a small amount of money is worth spending in comparison to the larger bill when damage occurs.

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