Cleaning and Maintaining Gutters

Cleaning your gutters is a task that often gets easily pushed off, but it's one that you should be doing regularly. As an essential part of your home, gutters need attention and care, which includes regular cleaning and maintenance. Here is are some helpful tips on how to care for and maintain your gutters.

Why Gutters Are Important

First, understand why gutters require maintenance and care. Gutters direct water away from your roof, protecting your house from water and foundation damage, which can be costly. By carefully maintaining your roof's draining system, you help prevent water damage to your home and can extend the life of your roof.

Gutters can easily get clogged with debris, such as leaves or seeds from trees, over time, leading to sagging, mold, mildew, water damage, and more, so it's important to clean them regularly. Fortunately, it's not difficult to prevent clogged gutters and dirty gutters.

How Often to Clean Gutters

Experts say gutters should be cleaned at least once or twice each year. However, your gutters may need more cleaning if you live in an area with more tree coverage because plant material and animal nests can easily gum up the works, leading to clogged gutters.

Seasonal cleans are best. After the fall and spring seasons are the best times to clean your gutters because that's when more pollen and seeds are typically dropping from plants. To prevent buildup, it's important to clean your gutters around those times. Not to mention, the weather is usually ideal for doing the yard work and any maintenance you may have been putting off.

How to Clean Dirty Gutters

As for the actual cleaning, cleaning with water or gutter wash, or even a handheld electric air blower, will do the trick in many cases. You can also use a gutter scoop to dig out any buildup. Start with the downspouts and work your way up. In cases of severe buildup, it may take a power wash or a plumbing snake to dislodge bigger clogs and buildups.

Signs You Need to Clean Your Gutters

Besides regular and seasonal cleaning, there are a few signs your gutters may need a good cleaning:

  • If you can see debris over the edges of your gutters without pulling out your ladder, you likely have a buildup.

  • If water is overflowing from your gutters.

  • If you see dripping and leakage from your gutters.

  • If plants are sprouting. 

  • If water isn't coming out of the downspout (this may mean there is a clog or freeze in the downspout that is affecting the water flow).

  • If pests or animals are starting to live in your gutters.

  • If your gutter spikes are damaged.

  • If downspout rivets are loose or have fallen out.

  • If you see rust, which indicates that water has damaged the paint and/or sturdiness of your gutters.

Maintenance: Solutions Beyond Cleaning

In addition to seasonal cleaning, there are some things you can do to prevent buildup and other damage in your gutters. 

While cleaning your gutters, check for cracks and damage that may be causing subtle leaks. Use a hose to run some water while you're up there and check for holes and damage. Then you can seal any damage with silicon sealing or caulk to prevent further issues.

You can also use gutter helmets, a.k.a. gutter screens or guards. These are covers that keep debris and objects from clogging and building up in your gutters. Easy to install, they snap onto the gutter and act as a strainer, allowing water to pass through but blocking larger debris. You could also consider installing a downspout extension or irrigation pipe to further divert water away from your house.

If cleaning and patching aren't fixing your problems, it may be time to replace or repair your gutter. Larger cracks and splits, as well as pools of water and mold, may mean a whole section needs replacing. Sagging gutters are the ultimate sign that your gutters are in need of replacement. At that point, they're not doing their job.

A functioning gutter is a clean gutter. It's important to keep up regular maintenance of your gutters to prevent damage to your home and costly repairs. To learn more about caring for your gutters and fixing problems when they do arise, get in touch today.

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