The Importance of Clean Gutters
Many people spend enormous amounts of time ensuring their home or business looks as good as possible but often, the gutters are neglected. Sometimes it’s difficult to see what’s going on inside the gutters and the “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy kicks in.
But if you took a good look at your gutters with an eye to what can be a problem, and then researched those problems in terms of financial impact, it becomes apparent very quickly that it makes good sense to keep those gutters cleaned.
Most folks consider gutters to be only a means of keeping water from falling on you as you walk under an eave or around the corner. That’s true, but it only scratches the surface regarding the importance of your gutters. In fact, keeping you dry is an ancillary benefit to having gutters – the real value is what they do to protect the building and, if you are a home owner or a business owner, that protection directly equates to monetary savings for you.
Here’s the deal – water causes damage. We all know that. Couple that knowledge with the understanding that gutters keep water away from the building and it make sense that gutters save you money. A good gutter system will divert water from the roof to specific points around the building where the landscaping or in-ground drainage is designed to pull the water away from the house. When gutters fail, the water runs onto the siding…sometimes under the siding…and can pool around the foundation. If there is a basement, this pooled water can often find it’s way into the basement.
Gutters do have a lifespan, but these days most newly installed gutters are good for 10, 15 20 years or more. However, if you live in an older home or run your business out of an older building, the gutters may need to be replaced. If seams are split, or if downspouts are loose, you’ll find water in places you don’t want it.
Even solid gutters, however, need maintenance and one of the most important is simply cleaning them out. Most homeowners know this but few do it as often as they should.
What can cause gutters to get clogged up?
- Leaves are the number one culprit. Autumn rolls around, the weather cools off, maybe you don’t want to spend too much time outside in the cold. But at the same time, those leaves that are falling onto your roof are, slowly but surely, finding their way into your gutters. Once you get a few leaves in there, they get wet when it rains and they form a little dam right inside your gutter. A few more leaves are added, maybe a little dirt from the roof and even grit from the tiles on the roof add to the problem and before long, what started out as a few dry innocent leaves has turned into an impassable water dam – you can tell because the water is spilling over the rim of the gutters instead of going through the downspout.
- Cabling can be another problem. Sometimes, a cable company or a phone company will actually run their wiring through the gutter systems. Makes no sense to anybody that understands what the gutters are for but that doesn’t seem to matter at times. If you ever witness this, be sure to put a stop to it. It’s a lazy practice by inexperienced installers and WILL cause your gutters to clog.
- Plants are a problem for gutters with a long history of neglect. Imagine the leaves and dirt collecting over a season or two. Plants eventually find their way there was well, sprout, take a hold in the gutters and you’ll see some interesting foliage coming out of the top of the gutters.
- Animals can be a problem. We’ve seen squirrels and rodents make homes in neglected gutters,
Obviously, with the above items in mind, it makes sense to either have somebody clean the gutters on a regular basis, or do it yourself.
- Calling a professional ensures the job will be done thoroughly and with no damage to building or gutters. It’ll also free up your weekend and keep you dry and clean. Gutter cleaning is dirty business – lots of water, usually a good bit of dirt and leaves, an occasional animal or insect. And heights – depending on how many stories, there’s the problem of heights. Combine heights with animals or insects and you have a potentially problematic situation. If any of these are issues for you or if it’s been a year or two since you’ve had it done, it’s highly recommended to call a professional.
Gutter Cleaning – Do It Yourself
- If the gutters “aren’t too bad”, and the height of the roof is acceptable, you may want to do this yourself. The tools you’ll need are either a garden hose and a small shovel or stick or, if the gutters are dry, you can try a high power leave blower. Either way, the process is the same. Get the leaves and gunk out by any means necessary. Usually you’ll want to start a short distance from a downspout and try to focus the water you’re using to wash out the gutter into the downspout to clean it out as well. This often causes additional clogs but work through it. Once that part is done, back up 10 feet or so and do the same, washing the next dirty section down towards the downspout. Work your way all around the building and don’t stop until you can see the bottoms of the gutters.
The benefits from clean gutters is, as we discussed, primarily based on what it does for the structural integrity of the building. Keeping water off the siding and away from the foundation protects and preserves the building. This is also the means to keep water from dripping on you as you walk around the building and clean gutters present very nice curb appeal – cleaning your gutters and keep them clean is a win/win/win scenario.