Cleaning gutters is a task most of us hate doing. However, this chore cannot be ignored for a long stretch of time, as otherwise various problems could end up occurring. And in truth, these problems will be more difficult to tackle than cleaning the gutters and you will have wished to have done so without delay.
True, it is rather dirty work, but with the many dry leaves, twigs, small branches, and other debris that ends up accumulating in the gutters, it is a must to do it, particularly at certain times of the year.
What causes blocked gutters?
As autumn draws nearer, it should be a priority to give a good clean up to your house’s gutters. In this season, trees start to shed leaves, pine cones and needles, and twigs fall. These easily end up clogging gutters. If there is already plenty of debris and dust in them, clogging will be easier than ever. Ideally, before autumn begins, you should clean your gutters well.
However, do not stop there. Preferably, once the colder winter draws nearer, check out the gutters’ condition, especially to see if another clean-up is required from leaves and twigs that fell during the autumn season. While rain is common in autumn, it will be heavier in the winter months. So, it is a good idea to check your gutters whenever it rains heavily. Check if rainwater is running down the side of your house as that will mean that the gutters are blocked. Heavy rain will end up moving all sorts of residue into gutters too, so as soon as it stops raining, try to give a quick cleaning to the gutters so as to have them free from heavy debris for the next rainfall.
Moreover, it is worth pointing out that if the house is located in a downhill area, it will be easier for all sorts of debris to end up accumulating in the gutters. In such cases you should be more cautious and make it a point to check and clean the gutters more often.
How can you prevent blocked gutters?
To prevent blocked gutters you need to address the debris that can easily end up in them. So for starters, it is a good idea to invest in a gutter protection system which will significantly help in reducing the debris that gets into them. If however you have gutters on an office building and the amount of guttering is substantial, you may be better off hiring a property maintenance company to carry out regular checks and cleaning.
Secondly, you should make it a point to flush out the downspouts every once in a while. This is something that can be done quite quickly and easily and you will be reducing accumulated debris and dust greatly. It is also important to see that the gutters are aligned properly and that there are no areas with gaps that could easily end up being receptacles for debris.
What happens if you do not clean your gutters?
Debris, dust and all sorts of residue end up blocking gutters. At times we forget how easily they could get clogged as most people tend to focus more on cleaning indoors rather than outdoors. But if you come to think of it, if your house gets dirty indoors, how much more it is going to need cleaning when it comes to its exterior elements, including the gutters!
Most people tend to notice problems with their gutters when runoff water is not passing through them, and starts to spill over to the ground. The bigger the clog is, the bigger the problems can be especially if it rains heavily before you get the chance of unclogging and giving your gutters a good cleaning.
Common damage caused by blocked gutters
Here are some common problems you might need to solve if you neglect regular cleaning of your gutters:
- Stained siding and rotting fascia boards
- A damper house, which negatively affects your health
- Blockages in the downpipes
- Flooding in basements
- Possible problems and structural damages in the building’s foundation
Should you replace your gutters?
Unless there are serious problems with gutters and your roof, there is no need to go through the expense and the ordeal of replacing them. Regularly checking and cleaning them will prevent having to replace them, at least for a longer span of time. Replacing gutters may not even be required if there are certain minor damages that can be resolved quite easily.
This could be:
- Gutter joints that could be leaking either due to general wear and tear or as a result of a clog.
- Sagging gutters in cases when the weight of the debris along with the weight of the water that is caught up in it, cause the gutters to weigh down. Simply avoiding large accumulations will prevent this.
- Common wear and tear like faulty brackets and rusty screws should be seen to as they could compromise the integrity of the gutters.
- In case you do not have gutter guards it is a good idea to install them as they will greatly reduce the amount of debris accumulating in the gutters.
As a general rule of thumb, replacing gutters is something that should not be done in a long time, at least 15 to 20 years. This is especially the case with metal gutters which are sturdier. In case your house gutters are made from plastic or vinyl, you might need to be more cautious though as they are more easily damaged and thus might need to be replaced after a while. Having a roof specialist inspect your gutters every few years is a good idea as he will advise whether replacement is necessary now, or in the near future. However with regular inspections and cleaning you can avoid replacing gutters and increase their lifespan considerably.
How to effectively clean your gutters?
There are various ways in which you can clean your gutters.
Using a garden hose or pressure washer, you can easily flush the gutters clean.
The longer and more traditional method is to use a spade to scoop up debris from the gutters. This is a must in case the blockage is considerable. For best results in such a case it will be quite helpful to use a wire to break up the clog more easily and then move on to clear the debris. Finally, use a hose to flush it all away.
It is important to seal any areas where leaks are noticed with a high quality sealant. Where there is the presence of mold it is recommended that you use a solution of bleach and water. Gather the dirt in garbage bags. Wear proper protection including eyewear and gloves.
As discussed, there are various problems that could result from dirty and clogged gutters. Thus, cleaning them at least twice or three times a year is recommended. This will help prevent subsequent problems, as well as having to replace your gutters within a short period of time. At the end of the day you would be saving money too.