As a homeowner, you know that many gutter professionals recommend that you clean the gutters twice a year. You might ask yourself, do the gutters really need to be cleaned at all if there are no trees growing close to the house and just a total of three on the entire property? Don’t underestimate the power of the elements. Perhaps you won’t have a lot of tree-related debris to warrant cleaning the gutters every six months, but things can still land in a gutter system that will need to be removed in order keep it functional and protecting your home 24/7.
Your House is in a Neighbourhood
While you might not have a lot of trees to worry about, your house is part of a neighbourhood where there are trees growing in yards, on a boulevard, or in a nearby park. A good windy day, with or without rain, can carry debris some distance before depositing it into the gutters. When enough leaves, dirt, and twigs have built up, they can form clogs at the gutter outlet, reducing the amount of water allowed to exit the gutter system. Blockages can also form in the inside the downspouts if bits of debris become snagged on exposed screws or metal edges.
Pine Trees have Needles
If you have pine trees growing nearby, it can be easy to dismiss their needles as too small to bother about. However, unlike deciduous trees that shed their leaves essentially all at once, conifers can shed needles over a period of several weeks or if stressed they have been known to drop their needles continuously throughout the year. Needles are flexible when they first drop and can float around in the gutter channel until they catch on a seam, metal protrusions inside downspouts, or collect in a clump. When they land in a gutter system, pine needles can accumulate quickly, forming blockages that can wreak serious havoc on a home’s exterior.
A Little Bit of Moisture
The gutters might be totally clear of debris but there are still places in your gutter system that are in a sheltered areas that don’t get direct sunlight or airflow. It only takes a little bit of moisture hanging around to create sludge when it combines with dust, grime, or dirt. The wet film produced can be corrosive to aluminum gutters and to the finish of other types of gutter materials.
Seeds and spores can be airborne on the wind and rain. When sludge or a layer of muck forms in the bottom of gutter channels, it is the ideal environment for weeds, moss, plants, and even trees to take root. Moss growth is insidious – it can easily spread to the roof, siding, and soffit.
Birds and Pests
Even gutters free of debris are inviting to birds and other pests looking for a home. Gutters provide a sheltered place to raise their young. Cleaning the gutters regularly or conducting periodic inspections will alert you to unwanted guests.
Toys and other Surprises
Almost everyone has experienced the power of a windy day – it can throw you of course when walking; break branches and blow them on to the roof; or deposit strange treasures into your gutters. Balls, Frisbees, dolls, and even small items left on patios can be thrown into a gutter system or land there compliments of the wind. If they are small enough to be airborne, they are small enough to cause blockages.
Cleaning the Gutters
Even if you don’t have trees growing near the house or on the property, using a gutter cleaning service or doing a DIY gutter cleaning helps prevent things that can go wrong with a gutter system. But cleaning the gutters doesn’t just clean the gutters. A lot can happen to your home’s exterior, especially after storms or extended periods of rainfall or snow. Regular gutter cleanings will alert you to other problems such as loose brackets, missing gutter sections, roofing shingles lodged in the gutter channel, or downspouts that have become disconnected from the gutter outlet.