“Clean the gutters:” It’s one of those perennial to-do list items that never seem to get crossed off. One season runs into the next, and before you know it, winter has arrived and your gutters are still full of debris.
Unfortunately, that can wreak a lot of havoc on your house, from water and structural damage to pest problems and more. And those problems will bring repair and replacement costs that can easily be avoided.
Check out the 6 ways below that clogged gutters can imperil your home, and 6 tips at the bottom to get ahead of the problem.
Clogged gutters cause water run-off and overflow, which can collect around your home’s foundation. Over time, that water can cause cracks in your foundation, which leads to huge repair costs. When ice dams form, excess water can also seep through your roof.
Damage to Gutter Components
When fascia boards – the long, straight boards running along the lower edge of your roof – are exposed to excess water, they can crack, warp and start shedding paint. If your gutters are weighted down with debris and/or frozen water, they can begin sagging. This can result in tearing and pulling away from the exterior walls, or even coming loose completely.
Whether from ice dams or a clogged gutter that sends water running in all directions, your home interior is also at risk of damage. This can happen from water leaking underneath shingles and through the roof, affecting electrical systems, appliances, and furniture. Oftentimes, interior walls will show mold, leaks, and water stains, and cracks will appear on ceilings. Window and door frames can also warp and rot.
These are a main culprit behind all the issues above because they force excess water away from the proper exit route (down the downspout), leaving it up to chance and gravity for water finding its way downhill. In addition, they also cause icicles, which – although picturesque – can injure people and pets, as well as damage your deck and roof.
A gutter full of leaves can harbor infestations of all kinds. Rodents love just about any dark, cozy place and can quickly start nesting and breeding. Before long, they may try to enter your home through the walls, under the roof, etc. Besides rodents, insects will quickly make a home in the decaying matter stuck in your gutters. This means mosquitoes, cockroaches, flies, and termites, all of which can also make inroads into your home. Finally, mold, parasites, mildew, and spores flourish in a damp gutter, posing a health risk to you and your family.
If you decide to tackle the gutters after winter has already arrived, you may be putting yourself at risk in trying to clean them. Icy and cold conditions make for poor ladder safety and the chances of injury increase. If you spot any structural damage or hard-to-remove ice dams, you may be tempted to fix it yourself, but at that point hiring a professional is much safer.
Gutter Cleaning Quick Tips:
The best time to clean is during autumn, after most of the season’s leaves have fallen (many of which will find a home in your gutters!). Here are 6 tips to get you started.
- Use a safe and secure ladder, and practice ladder safety.
- Rake debris and leaves off the roof before attacking gutters (be sure to wear rubber-soled shoes).
- Wear safety eyewear and gloves.
- Use a plastic gutter scooping tool.
- Clear the downspouts.
- Watch out for power lines.
Once fall gives way to winter, your window of opportunity for safely cleaning gutters closes until spring. Best to start early, before damage – and related repair costs – happen.
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