One of the most important fall home maintenance chores on your to-do list this season is gutter cleaning before winter arrives. The last thing you want to deal with is a flooded basement or a leaking roof during the holidays or just in time to welcome the New Year. Whether you plan on cleaning the gutters yourself or hiring a professional roof contractor to do it for you, cleaning the gutters can save you money in the long run.
It protects your roof from water damage.
Clogged gutters can damage your roof in two main ways. First, blocked gutters might stop rainwater and snowmelt from draining properly from off of the roof, leaving water to collect on the shingles. When runoff seeps into cracks and crevices, it can lead to damaged roof shingles, leaks, and wood rot in the roof deck. The second way blocked gutters cause damage is when water in the gutter troughs splashes upward into the soffit and fascia, resulting in compromised soffit panels and fascia boards.
It protects your gutters.
Regular gutter cleaning and good home maintenance habits will ensure that the gutters continue to function properly. Debris hanging around encourages clogs and blockages to form inside the gutters and downspouts. A dysfunctional gutter system can cause a number of issues including:
- Overflowing gutters
- Sagging gutter troughs
- Disconnected downspouts
- Damaged and/or leaking seams
- Mold or mildew growth
These common gutter problems are mostly preventable; cleaning the gutters at least twice a year – once in the fall and once in the spring – will help extend the life of your gutters and prevent you from having to replace them.
It protects your home’s exterior.
When runoff can’t flow freely through the gutter system and out of the downpipes because of debris buildup, water damage can occur. Moisture that seeps in behind the back of the gutters and into the fascia or stains siding panels makes your home’s exterior susceptible to wood rot, mold growth, and structural issues. The water from overflowing gutters can splash up into soffit and fascia or up into the roofline, damaging the roofing system. Water running down siding often gets into small gaps and cracks around doors and windows. Cleaning and maintaining the gutters will help prevent having to repair or replace windows, siding, soffit and fascia, and other finishing elements of your home exterior.
It protects the foundation.
A constantly overflowing gutter system that doesn’t drain properly can directly impact the foundation. When there’s too much water in the soil, the foundation can sink, shift, or develop fissure cracks that deepen over time. Foundation issues don’t appear out of the blue. Telltale signs your home might be heading for structural damage include:
- Doors with obvious gaps between the bottom of the door and the floor
- Doors (interior and entry) that stick
- Windows that won’t open or close easily
- Uneven floors
- Hairline cracks appearing on ceilings and interior walls
Any problems related to the house’s structure or its foundation can cost thousands of dollars to repair. Maintaining the gutters and extending the life of the gutter system through regular cleaning will prove cheaper in the long run.
It protects your basement from flooding.
Overflowing or blocked gutters send rainwater over the sides of the gutter trough, allowing water to pool underneath the downspouts or collect below the eaves parallel to the foundation. When too much water accumulates, it can flood the basement. Basement flooding from gutter-related problems is preventable.
It protects your home from pest infestations.
Gutters that aren’t well-maintained can be a little heaven here on earth for rodents such as mice, squirrels, chipmunks, and other rodents. A gutter system stuffed with bits of twigs, leaves, old blossoms, and seed pods can also be inviting to mosquitoes, bees, wasps, and birds. If they take up residence in the gutters, these pests can cause damage to the roof, siding, and the gutters that might be expensive to repair.