There are some outdoor chores that are always on the list of homeowners, such as mowing the lawn, weeding, sweeping and cleaning the driveway. Cleaning the gutters often is not. And it is not surprising as you rarely look into your gutters, so it’s not something that will immediately strike you as something that has to be done, out of sight, out of mind. However, not cleaning out your gutters regularly can lead to long-lasting problems.
In this blog, we will shine a light on gutters, what they are, what can happen if you don’t clean your gutters and more.
What are gutters and why are they important?
Gutters are long hollow devices, often made from aluminum, attached to the edges of the roof of your house. A functioning gutter system is very important to protect your home. Its main purpose is to collect rainwater that is coming off the roof and direct it away from your house and foundation. This will avoid water seeping into your foundation or, even worse, into your basement, causing structural damage to your home, so it is of utmost importance to ensure that the system is free of obstructions.
What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Gutters?
Leaving your gutters unchecked can lead to long-lasting problems and damage. One of the main causes of clogged gutters is leaves and other debris. Especially if you or your neighbours have trees on your property, it does not take much for leaves to fall or get blown onto your roof and your gutters and when it rains, the runoff can sweep it from the roof into the gutters. Unfortunately, if you leave checking and cleaning your gutters too long, then it can lead to a whole slew of issues for your home.
Leaves, debris and other things that can get blown up there can clog the gutters and downspouts, leading to water not being able to flow off anymore and cause for the gutters to overflow. Now, instead of getting directed away from your home and foundation, the water will end up right next to your house and potentially damage the foundation of your home. The force of the water hitting the ground can also lead to soil erosion and expose the roots of plants and trees.
If the water that has leaked from your gutters seeps into your foundation, it can cause cracks and potentially destabilize your house’s support. Especially if this happens during a time when frost can occur, the water can freeze and cause even bigger damage. But it also can cause damage to the side of your house, such as brickwork or wood.
Your foundation is not the only part of your home that could get damaged. A blocked gutter can lead to rainwater soaking into your shingles and from there into your home. Damaged shingles can then also cause rainwater to directly leak into the house, even if the gutters are cleaned. It can also lead to the beams of your roof to start rotting and turn into a very expensive roof replacement.
Mould and mildew
If left unattended for too long, the leaves and other organic matter stuck in your gutter can begin to decompose and rot. If you live in a humid climate, it can also lead to mould and mildew growing, which can not only make your gutters look filthy but even enter your house and cause a lot of health problems. And once mould has found its way into a house, it can be very expensive and inconvenient to get rid of it.
Bugs, Insects, and Pests
Birds, bugs, mice and other pests can make themselves comfortable in the leaves and debris in your gutters and from there could also enter your home.
Similar to your foundation, if standing water enters your driveway it can erode the soil underneath the concrete and during winter the water in cracks can freeze and break your driveway apart.
Another consequence could be that the excess and overflow water can freeze during the winter months, turning your driveway and paths along the house into dangerous skating rinks that could cause slips and falls.
Signs that indicate your gutters need cleaning
Rainwater overflowing from gutters
If you notice water overflowing from your gutters, it’s usually a sign that they are clogged with leaves and debris. Instead of being funnelled away from your home, so it can drain away, it can flow into your roofing or hit the side of your house, potentially entering your foundation or basement.
Standing water near the foundation of your home
If you find stagnant pools of water near the foundation of your home, it can be a sign that your gutters are not funnelling the water away from your house anymore. This standing water can penetrate your home’s foundation and cause severe damage, even more so during the winter months when the water that infiltrated your house can freeze and make the situation even worse.
When your gutters are clogged with leaves and debris, the water buildup can also damage your gutters through its sheer weight. It can put additional stress and cause it to bend and deform or, in the worst case, even fall off. Especially during winter when the standing water can freeze, this can lead to additional damage.
Increased critter activity
Squirrels and mice are common critters in most communities, but if you notice increased activity in your gutters, it might be a sign that they are making a home in built-up leaves in your gutters.
Water spilling over the edge of your clogged gutters can cause debris and dirt to flow down the side of your house, leading to some unsightly staining.
Plants are growing in your gutters
Built-up organic matter can be an ideal breeding ground for plants to sprout up. The shape of the gutter is similar to a planter, so it can easily retain moisture, which can help create a fertile soil for plants to grow.
How often you should clean your gutters?
While most homeowners will automatically think about autumn when it comes to the gutters as leaves are the main culprit for clogged gutters, it generally is recommended to inspect and clean your gutters twice a year, once in the fall and once in late spring. Of course, this also strongly depends on some other factors.
If you have a lot of trees on or near your property, you might have to check your gutters once every three months or so to make sure that you don’t have leaves building up. The same goes for pine trees which shed needles throughout the year and can contribute to clogging up your gutters.
Another time when it is advised to check your gutters is after severe storms, which could be responsible for additional debris and leaves getting blown onto your roof and into the gutters.
What is the best way to clean out gutters?
There are two ways to go to clean gutters: Do it yourself or hire professional cleaners.
If you want to do it yourself, there some things to be aware of for your own safety. You have to be comfortable getting high up on a ladder in the first place, but it is advised to have a friend to secure the ladder. Also prepare to get dirty, wear gloves and goggles and also have equipment ready, such as a hose, a snake tool and sealant to clear and then seal up your gutters. It can also be a quite time-consuming task.
The alternative is hiring a professional cleaning service, which comes with several distinct advantages. They have the experience to safely conduct the cleaning and also the required professional equipment to do the job properly. This also means that they generally are able to perform the service a lot faster than you could do it yourself. They also can suggest and install products such as gutter guards to prevent future clogs and help you cut down on future maintenance cost. Professional cleaners also will be able to spot any potential damage or other issues while they are cleaning, which can help prevent more problems down the road.
How to Find Gutter Cleaners in Toronto, Canada?
You can check the Yellowpages or just do a simple Google search of “cleaning roof gutters near me” or “cleaning eavestroughs near me”, which will bring up some of the top professional gutter cleaning companies.
Make sure to check out reviews to read actual customers’ experiences with the company’s services and take advantage of the free estimates most reputable companies offer. It is recommended to get at least three estimates to get a good idea of the cost and services provided. If an estimate is significantly lower than the average, beware that it could be a sign that the company might be willing to cut corners in terms of quality and potentially safety to outprice the competition.
Conclusion and key takeaways
Gutters are a critical part of your house that often gets neglected. They are responsible for funnelling and draining away water from your house to avoid water entering your home and causing damage to the roof, siding or foundation of the house. A clogged gutter can cause many problems, both physically and aesthetically and simple, regular maintenance can prevent these clogs and their often dire consequences from happening.
Silverlight Windows and Eaves is a professional cleaning company serving the Greater Toronto Area with window cleaning, eavestrough cleaning, gutter guard installation, pressure washing, and other services. Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to providing the highest level of customer service possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often do I need to clean my gutters?
It is generally recommended to inspect and clean your gutters at least twice a year, in the fall and in spring. However, if you have a lot of trees on or near your property, you might have to check them more often.
How long does it take to clean gutters?
There is no clear timeframe, as it depends on the length and number of gutters, the number of levels to your home and, of course, how dirty or even clogged the gutters and downspouts are.
What happens if I decide not to clean my clogged gutters?
Not cleaning up clogged gutters can lead to water overflowing and spilling from your gutters, which can cause damage to the wood of your roofing, the siding and foundation of your house and damage landscaping. This can also lead to damaging or breaking your gutters. It can also lead to critters and pests taking up home in your gutters.
How can I avoid cleaning rain gutters altogether?
One good way to avoid leaves and debris accumulating and clogging your gutters and downspouts is the installation of gutter guards, which will allow water to flow through but prevent leaves from getting in.