Have you ever seen what happens if you don’t clean your gutters? Those living in colder climates are likely already familiar with clogged and damaged gutters in the winter season.
Too many people are unaware of the damage that neglecting your gutters can cause. In this article, we’ll help you identify the importance of cleaning your gutters, the early signs of clogged gutters, and even some tips on cleaning them.
Why are gutters important?
Gutters are considerably more vital to your home’s structural integrity than you may think. They protect your house’s walls, foundation, and roof by redirecting rainwater, snow, and debris away from fragile or vulnerable areas.
Without gutters, excessive water, snow, debris, and even animals gnawing away at your roof can lead to spilling, pooling, and runoff all over your house. In addition to eroding the land around your home’s foundation, runoff can deteriorate your siding, allowing the wood and drywall underneath to rot.
Water and snow dams
Poorly flowing or clogged gutters can cause ice and snow buildup. Typically, flowing water within gutters prevents the runoff from freezing. However, if your gutters are filled with water or stagnant, they freeze over.
Once your gutters freeze, the ice expands, forcing the seams and sections of your gutters out. Additionally, the weight of piled-up snow and ice causes gutters to sag, brackets to break, and can even cause entire gutter systems to rupture. All that, and we haven’t even mentioned the damage to your home’s property value.
These notorious buildups of ice and snow are called ice dams. Even if you don’t live in cold climates, water can also cause the same damage without freezing.
If homeowners neglect the risk that water, debris, and snow pose to their house, gutters, and safety, costly damage is right around the corner.
You may be thinking, “why should I bother cleaning gutters when I can buy gutter guards?” While a great solution, you must be wary when buying and installing them. Some gutter protection systems cause ice dams rather than prevent them.
Do gutter guards cause ice dams?
The main reason gutter guards may be counterproductive is that they may lack durability. Just one cubic foot of ice weighs over 60 lbs. If your gutter guards are not rated for this weight, they will crack like cheap plastic under the weight of snow, water, and ice.
Aluminum gutter guard covers are a considerably better choice. As ice and snow build-up, they are easier to clean and come in various styles for different gutter systems. These guards can also come with mesh screens that allow water to flow, preventing the system from icing up constantly.
Heated gutter guards
Heated gutters guards are one of the best ways to protect your gutters and home. These gutter guards come with heat cables that briskly melt any ice or snow that may threaten your gutters.
While heated gutter guards cost more than traditional gutter protection, they can save you thousands of dollars in damages in frequently cold regions. Although, consider having a professional install them.
Certified roofers, gutter specialists, and licensed contractors know their way around roofs and gutter deicing cable installations. They know how to use gutter heating cables and implement them into your house safely.
You should also consider certified professionals to remove gutters, clean shingle granules from your gutter systems, and clean your gutter downspout. This way, if anything goes wrong, or your home is particularly vulnerable, you are insured and in good hands.
Usually, it is best to seek out gutter care specialists to service, maintain, and repair gutters. Today, affordable gutter cleaning isn’t out of most people’s reach.
How to clean gutters to prevent damage
If you want to learn the basics to keep your gutters in good shape without damaging or modifying your home, here are some tips:
The best times of year to clean and rid your gutters of debris are in spring, before heavy rain, and in late fall, just after the trees shed their leaves.
You don’t want to be cleaning gutters in winter. it’s best to clear them out as soon as possible before they clog and become extremely difficult to clean.
Grab a ladder, gloves, a small shovel, and a bucket. Your hands are often the most efficient way to clean gutters, but you can use leaf blowers, hoses, and other tools as well.
Empty the gutter channels of leaves, pinecones, branches, or anything else that may be congested there. Gutter cleaning and leaf removal are simple yet effective ways to prevent future damage.
Get rid of any mold, algae, or other buildup that may live in your gutters. The moist, small channels in gutters are ideal for bacteria and organic matter inhabitants.
While you’re on top of your roof, remove any dust, loose rust, and twigs that may be up there as well. We recommend using scouring pads, rust cleaner, or light chemical solutions to remove rust safely. If sections of your gutters have rusted away or are beyond repair, call a professional, as you may have to replace your gutters.
Lastly, ensure your gutters are working and clean. Take your garden hose and fill the gutters with water. The downspouts should flow smoothly and flush out small impurities.
Carefully examine the section breaks and seams along the gutters. We recommend using bright, water-resistant tape to mark leaks. From there, seal off any spills and ensure water doesn’t pool anywhere.
Once you’ve crossed everything off the checklist, you’re done! A best practice is to check your patches and clean out small leaves and organic matter periodically to prevent snow and water dams later in the year.
Many underestimate how valuable learning how to clean your gutter shutters and channels is. Even something as simple as keeping leaves and dirt out of your gutters can prevent severe damage as winter arrives