Not many people pay enough attention to their gutters because many people do not consider them to be part of the roofing system. But this is a mistake because the gutters are essential to your roof’s performance and the protection of your building. Debris can easily collect in the gutters, especially with sloped roofing. In reality, not cleaning your gutters shouldn’t even be an option. Not regularly cleaning out your gutters can result in several serious problems.
How to Clean Your Gutters and What Happens if You Don’t
- Mold and Mildew: Mold and mildew love eating away at organic material such as dead and decaying leaves that are collected in the gutter. Any moisture that gets added to this will only speed up the process of mold and mildew growth. Mold can grow and damage other organic materials in the building such as wood that is in your roofing substrate and building structure.
- Water Damage: Seams along the building perimeter allow water infiltration. When lower floors or basements get flooded, the most common cause is a clogged gutter. The leaves clog the drainage channels, causing the water to dam up and eventually overflow. The result can cause thousands of dollars of damage.
- Wasted Landscape Material: This one is more of an annoyance than anything else but it can also cost you a lot of money if you’ve invested in your landscaping. Heavy rains can easily overflow clogged drains, forcing all that excess water to wash away your sod and begin to erode the topsoil.
- Freezing Water: Rain, clogged drains, and low temperatures are a recipe for disaster. The collected water stays in your gutter lines and can freeze up in cold weather. Water dams are problematic as they can cause your gutters to become overloaded and collapse under the additional weight. Freezing and thawing water can push and expand the gutter material, causing cracks and other damage as well.
- Cosmetic Damage: Flossing water or freezing water can ruin your soffits and fascia. This will cause cosmetic damage to the roofline and affect your ventilation and heating and cooling costs. That’s because your soffits and fascia can help ventilate your basement depending on the type you have installed and having to replace these can be very expensive.
- Rodent and Insect Infestation: When you ignore your gutters, the dirt and debris build-up. Any rain makes these clogs worse. It can also lead to insect and rodent infestation. The standing water that can’t drain away from a clogged gutter is an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes and other insects that gather around stagnant water attract rodents and the presence of these creatures on your property can be a nuisance at best and a health hazard.
Keeping Your Gutters Clean
It may be hard to consider regular gutter cleaning, especially since your gutters aren’t exactly in plain view every day. But, you have to check your gutters and have them cleaned regularly to prevent the serious complications mentioned above.
Step 1: Clear Debris From the Gutters
- Have one bucket for the debris that you remove and a second bucket to hold the tools you need.
- Begin cleaning near a downspout.
- Place your ladder squarely on level ground before you climb it.
- Remove and clean the downspout strainer.
- Clear large debris such as leaves and twigs by hand.
- Use a trowel or gutter scoop for any compacted debris.
Step 2: Flush the Gutters
After most of the debris is removed, flush the remaining bits and dirt from the gutter with a garden hose. Simply fit your garden house with a spray nozzle and flush out the gutter with water, starting at the far end and moving toward the downspout. There are specialty gutter cleaning attachments for your garden hose that can make the job easier
Step 3: Check the Downspouts
Once the gutters are clean, the water used for flushing should be draining quickly. If not, check the downspout for clogs and any lodged debris. Turn the hose on and spray down the spout. If the amount of water coming out is less than what is going in, there is a blockage. You can remove the blockage by feeding the hose up the downspout from the ground. Turn the hose on at full pressure to try to dislodge the clog. If this does not work, you can use a plumber’s snake to break up the blockage.
Step 4: Check for Gutter Drainage and Slope
When the downspout is clog-free, flush the gutters a second time. Check for proper water flow and drainage. Also, look for any leaks at the seams. Make sure all the gutters are secure and firmly attached and inspect each gutter section and the downspout for damage.
Step 5: Complete the Gutter Cleaning
Seal any leaking seams and joints with gutter sealant, and use a pressure washer to remove any mildew and dirt. If you have any questions about gutter maintenance, reach out to us today. We can help you with the right tools and techniques. Or we can take off your regular gutter cleaning for you.