One of the most important fall home maintenance tasks is gutter cleaning. They are probably the least glamorous part of a home’s exterior, but gutters protect everything that’s important to you. When a gutter system works as it should, you might not take any notice until there’s water in the basement or the flowerbed in the north corner of the house is waterlogged. A gutter system needs regular maintenance to keep them working perfectly. Here are some key signs it’s time to clean the gutters.
Constantly overflowing gutters are one of the key signs the gutters need cleaning. Debris builds up inside the gutter trough, forming clogs. When that happens, the water flows around the clog until the blockage grows too large. With no place else to travel, runoff spills over the top instead of toward the downspouts.
When gutters overflow near downspouts, it’s typically an indication that they are clogged. To stop the gutters from overflowing, the blockages inside the downpipes causing the trouble need to be removed.
The most probable cause of stained siding or peeling paint is overflowing gutters. If you notice stains, streaks, or large patches of flaking, get out the ladder to check if the gutters are filled with debris.
Stained siding can also be the result of damaged or worn seams. Standing water combined with the weight of debris puts pressure on the seams (where two gutter troughs are joined together), causing them to leak water onto the siding.
Sagging or Bulging Gutters
When clogs weigh the gutters down to such an extent that the gutter sections pull away from the fascia, the gutters sag. Sagging gutters don’t just detract from your curb appeal; they restrict the water from flowing unobstructed to the downpipes.
Clogs in the gutters sometimes push the runoff down and around a large obstruction, causing the gutter trough to bulge outward. You don’t need to break out the ladder for this sign that gutters need cleaning – bulging typically affects the bottom of the gutter channel and can be easily seen when standing underneath the eaves.
Wet Patches on the Roof
Water that remains on the roof for several days and then remains as wet patches that never seam to dry up is another sign that the gutters need cleaning. Runoff not properly guided toward the downspouts can back up onto the roof, soaking shingles near the roofline. When you spot standing water on your roof, do a thorough gutter cleaning, and have the roof inspected for damage that can be repaired. If extensive water damage has occurred, the roof might need replacing.
Plants Growing in the Gutters
When gutters aren’t regularly maintained, standing water mixed with silt, bits of organic debris and dirt encourage seedlings to grow. The right conditions create the ideal environment for plants, small shrubs, and even trees to make a home in your gutters. Vegetation growing in the gutter system for six months or more will develop root systems. Roots, especially ones that spread outward, can do enough damage to a gutter system that it might be beyond repair.
Animals or Birds Moving In
Birds and small animals such as rats, mice, and squirrels look for sheltered places to build their homes. And what better place for them to look than a gutter system where all of the building materials are already supplied? If you can’t see an actual nest, another sign your gutters need cleaning is if you hear small animals on the roof of your house or see birds flying back and forth to one particular area of the gutters, usually in one of the corners.
Out of sight, out of mind is not a game you want to play with your gutters. Gutter technicians recommend that gutters be cleaned at least twice a year, and once every season if there are a lot of trees in your neighbourhood or grow on your property. If you can’t remember the last time the gutters were cleaned, you probably can safely assume they need a gutter cleaning ASAP.