Now that spring is in full swing, it’s the perfect time for homeowners to begin thinking about taking steps to inspect and clean gutters to help ensure your home is safe from water damage this season. While fall is usually considered the best time for gutter cleaning, it’s important to keep your gutters clean year-round not only to prevent damage to the gutters themselves, but also to avoid situations that can lead to costly damage to other areas of your home.
How Can Gutters Cause Damage to Your Home?
If gutters are not routinely cleaned, damage can occur including:
Water spilling over from the gutters and down the exterior wall of the home can cause wood to rot. Wood near the top of your home (soffit and fascia) can rot and can spread to the roof and attic.
When water spills out of the gutters and down the side of your home, it can lead to foundation damage as it spills into the soil next to the house and eventually into the concrete foundation.
When the water does not flow through the gutter because it is filled with leaves and other debris, it can spill onto the ground below and seep into the basement or lower levels of a home and cause moisture inside. The excess moisture can lead to black mold, water damage and even mildew smells and basement flooding that can cause expensive damage to the home.
When gutters are too full to drain water, that water can pool at the edge of the roof where it can cause wood rotting as well as water that will seep into the roof itself and into the home below. During the winter, snow and ice can pool onto the roof and cause damage that can become costly to repair. The ice buildup and leak into the attic and these roof leaks can cause mold to grow inside the attic and walls of the home –– ultimately causing major damage to the home.
Preventing Roof Damage When Cleaning Gutters
For some owners, such as those who are afraid of heights or have difficulty climbing ladders, hiring a professional might be the best route to safely cleaning gutters. However, this spring and fall maintenance project can easily be handled by homeowners if they’re willing to put in a little work.
A few things to consider when cleaning gutters:
Before you decide to clean gutters on your own, grab a good pair of rugged gloves to prevent cuts and scrapes while pulling debris from the gutters. You will also want to wear comfortable clothing as well as shoes with good grip on the bottom to help prevent a fall off the ladder.
Before you climb up the ladder, make sure it is set on a level area and is sturdy. Be sure the ladder is one with good grip and that it is placed in a location that will not allow it to slip as you climb. When placing the ladder onto the gutters, be sure it’s not adding too much pressure and crushing the gutter. Fiberglass ladders are sturdy, but they are heavy. Aluminum ladders are sturdy as well as lighter weight than fiberglass.
Instead of using your hands to pry everything out of the gutter, grab a high-pressure hose and spray everything out instead. You will want to make sure all the larger pieces of debris have been removed so they don’t get stuck in the downspout or blow onto the roof before you use the hose.
Check for Debris on The Roof
While cleaning the gutters, be sure to take time to check the roof for debris as well. Remove any debris that you can reach.
Look for Potential Repairs
While working your way around the home to clean the gutters, also spot check for necessary repairs. Are the shingles aging or loose? Are all gutters still properly attached to your home? Do all downspouts drain in an appropriate spot and unclogged of debris?
Avoid Standing on Roof
To help prevent damage, avoid climbing onto the roof when possible. Climbing onto the roof can increase the risk of your project and unncessary pressure can damage your roof if you step on the wrong spot.
For best results with keeping gutters clean and preventing roof damage, it’s a good idea to have screens installed on top of the gutters. This will allow rainwater and melted snow to enter the gutter but will keep the leaves and debris out. You will still need to clean the gutters to make sure small debris is washed out, but screen guards can certainly make cleaning easier.
While our team doesn’t perform gutter cleaners, we can help if your home has experienced roofing and water damage as a result of poor maintenance!