Many homeowners take their gutters for granted. They think that if they ignore the fact that they are clogged with leaves and other debris, the problem will eventually go away. But of course it doesn’t work that way. It only gets worse, and could eventually lead to sagging gutters, flooded basements or even foundation problems. Gutters do an important job, directing water away from the perimeter of your house. Regular maintenance may keep your gutters in tip-top shape, helping prevent water damage and keep your home looking nice.
Clogged gutters may cause all kinds of issues with your home:
Water Damage – properly functioning gutters and downspouts direct water away from the structure of your home. Clogged gutters and downspouts may potentially cause water to collect around your foundation and, as a result, get into your basement.
Loosened Gutters – the weight of water, twigs, and other debris may help loosen gutters and cause them to pull away from their attachments. This may lead to damage to your siding or trim.
Ice Dams – if you live in an area where freezing temperatures are a common occurrence during winter, your clogged gutters may cause ice dams. An ice dam is when water flows over the edges of a clogged gutter and then freezes, potentially forcing water into your home. Ice dams can also become so heavy they may rip the gutter right off your home, resulting in costly repair bills.
Vermin – clogged, damp gutters may also be an inviting home to carpenter ants, mosquitoes and even rodents. And, if these pests are living in your gutters, there’s a chance they might make their way into your home.
How often you should clean your gutters:
Twice a year is a recommended, once in the spring and once in the fall. It may also be a good idea to periodically chem them for debris during the year. If your house is surrounded by trees, it may be a good idea to clean your gutters three or four times a year. And if in the winter you notice any ice dams, consider contacting a professional to come remove them as it may be too dangerous to attempt yourself.
Since cleaning your gutters requires you to get on a ladder, it’s always safest to leave this job to a professional. However, if you decide to clean your gutters yourself, always remember to put safety first:
Gloves – hand protection is critical due to the possibility of sharp objects in the gutter.
Dust mask – dried, clogged gutters can be very dusty, and a dust mask can help prevent you from breathing in this dust.
Safety goggles – debris may fly back at your when cleaning, so wearing safety goggles to help protect your eyes is a must.
Ladder and spotter – you should always have someone nearby to hold the ladder for you.
Garden trowel – it can be used to scoop the debris out of the gutter.
Bucket – use a bucket to collect the debris you’re cleaning out of the gutter.
Some debris may be stuck, and it may take some effort to remove it. Be careful not to damage the gutter. After the large debris is removed, use a garden hose to wash out the remaining dirt.
Taking some time to focus on cleaning out your gutters may help keep water out and prevent damage to your home. Proper gutter maintenance can be vital to defending your property from water. And remember, always use good judgement to decide what’s appropriate for your situation and what is safe.