Every year, 1 in 50 homeowners file insurance claims for water damage. The culprit in at least a portion of these claims is clogged gutter systems.
If you’ve never given much thought to your gutters, there’s no time like the present.
We’ve put together a quick guide to the importance of gutter cleaning. It will take a few minutes to read now but could save hours of frustration (and your wallet) later.
What Is the Big Deal about Gutters Anyway?
Gutters are the most overlooked home, but they are vital. Rainwater and snowmelt collect in gutters. If the gutter system works properly, that water drains down into downspouts.
From there, it’s transported away from your home’s foundation.
The big deal about gutters is the amount of water they need to handle. You likely think in terms of raindrops. Gutter manufacturers design gutters based on how many gallons of water potentially flow through them during a rainstorm.
If you have a 1000 square foot roof and one inch of rain falls on it, your gutters will need to accommodate a flow of about 620 gallons of water. On average, a residential roof is 1700 square feet. During a heavy rainstorm, an inch of water can fall in one hour.
That’s a sobering thought, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve cleaned your gutters.
Why Gutter Maintenance Matters
Clogged gutters can result in a disaster for your home. When gutters become clogged, the overflow must go against your house or pool at the foundation.
In extreme situations, water may back up on the roof. While that might not seem like a huge issue, a roof can only bear so much weight. Even 48 hours of water standing on a rooftop can put the roof at risk of structural damage.
In addition to potential structural damage, standing water on a roof can also lead to wood rot over time.
While a flat roof is more susceptible to standing or ponding water, clogged gutters make sloped roofs vulnerable as well.
We’ve all seen those one or two homes in the neighborhood with “trees” growing in the gutters. This is a direct result of years of neglect.
While tree growth in a gutter may be extreme, gutters full of leaves and other debris are common when homeowners ignore gutter cleaning for several years.
Routine gutter maintenance helps eliminate the issues we’ve mentioned so far. If you’ve not already done so, consider installing gutter guards as well. Another problem caused by a lack of gutter care is the leaky gutter.
What Happens When Gutters Leak
We’ve covered what happens when gutters become clogged. What you may not realize is not only can gutters get backed up, but they can also develop leaks.
Another task taken care of during gutter maintenance is checking the various components of your gutter system for holes.
Leaky gutters result in:
- Water pooling near the foundation
- Worn gutters
- Soil erosion
- Damaged siding
- Wood rot on decks or porches
When water stands against your foundation, it’s a set-up for a cracked foundation. Worn gutters eventually fall off, which can damage your soffit and fascia. Soil erosion could allow your home to shift, and damage to siding or decks will drain your wallet.
Ice Dams and Mosquito Invasions
It’s hard to imagine that these two phenomena have anything in common. One typically only happens during the winter, and the other occurs primarily during warm weather.
The common thread here is the lack of gutter cleaning and maintenance.
Clogged gutters increase the risk of ice dam formation. An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms on the roof’s ridge. It cannot drain when you have snowmelt and instead backs up on the roof.
Eventually, the water can leak through the ceiling of your home, causing significant damage. Gutter guards can help prevent ice dams by eliminating backups of debris.
A clogged gutter makes an ideal habitat for mosquitoes. They love standing water and use it as a breeding ground. Clogged gutters also attract other pests, including ants.
Most roofing experts advise gutter cleaning after the leaves drop in the fall. Depending on where you live and the age of your gutter system, you may need to perform maintenance more often.
Is Gutter Cleaning a Good DIY Project?
Whether you’re a home maintenance fanatic or you simply enjoy DIY projects, you’re likely wondering if you should be the one to take care of routine home care for your gutter system.
Our gut instinct is to recommend calling a professional to inspect and clean your gutters. There are many reasons for this, the first being safety.
Even if you live in a one-story home, you’ll need to get up on a ladder to complete maintenance on your gutter system. If you don’t have a sturdy extension ladder, or if you don’t feel steady on a ladder, it’s best to hire someone to do the job.
Next, do you have the best tools available for maintaining your gutters? The project doesn’t require fancy tools, but you will need a tarp, a scoop, bucket, or gutter bag.
Professionals may use some of the same tools, but they also use blowers and, sometimes, roof rakes. Professional contractors show up with the right tools on the first round, saving you money and time.
Clean Gutters May Add Value to Your Home
Perhaps you’ve heard that new gutters or at least clean gutters add to your home’s value. If you’re considering selling your home, you’re likely hoping it’s a true statement.
The good news is that while maintaining your gutters may not increase your home’s selling price. This home maintenance task will add perceived value.
That means that both the prospective buyer and the lender will expect a working gutter system on the home. Some lenders won’t finance a home without functional gutters and downspouts. Buyers expect working gutters and may hesitate to put an offer in on a home without them.
Schedule Routine Inspections
As mentioned above, it is crucial to inspect your gutters regularly. Inspections are an easy way to detect problems with your gutters early on before they develop leaks or other issues.
Anything found on inspection should be addressed as soon as possible. Be especially diligent about repairing leaks.
While you can, if you feel safe doing so, get up on a ladder and visualize your gutters, why not have a licensed professional come out and do it for you? You’ll remain safe with your feet on the ground, and the contractor can make an on-the-spot assessment with a quote for any work you need to have done.
Ready to Schedule Gutter Service?
There’s never a wrong time to schedule gutter cleaning. In this part of the country, neither rain, snow, nor freezing temperatures will stop our team from ensuring your gutters are free and clear of debris. We can also make repairs if necessary.
Contact us today and schedule a gutter inspection or a free estimate!