While not the most glamorous component of your home, the gutters play a pretty big role in helping to keep the entire structure in great shape. They require very little maintenance, and depending on the material used, can be very long lasting. You can expect aluminum gutters to last 20-25 years, for example.
The benefits of having a gutter system on your home have to do with preventing damage that can be caused by uncontrolled moisture and runoff. Here are the main benefits:
- Stabilizes the soil around the house
- Prevents many foundation problems
- Prevents flooding under houses and in basements
- Preserves landscaping and turf
- Lessens settling and cracking in sidewalks, patios, and driveways
- Prevents water damage to siding
- Prevents water staining on brick and stone masonry
- Preserves exterior and garage doors
As with any feature of your home, a gutter system does require some upkeep in order for these benefits to continue. If a system is not maintained, these are some of the expensive damages that you can expect:
- Water can dam up in the gutters and cause damage to eaves
- Water can leak into the house and cause damage to walls and flooring
- During dry seasons, leaves in the gutters can be a fire hazard
- Mosquitoes can breed in the standing water
- Leaks will hasten deterioration of the entire system
So, obviously there are some strong arguments for the importance of gutter maintenance, and you’re reading this article, so maybe we’re preaching to the choir. Let’s get down to the basic steps for gutter maintenance.
As you can imagine, there are several factors that dictate how often gutters need to be cleaned, including whether there are trees close by and even what type of trees they are (evergreen vs. deciduous). You’ll also find that a roof that has a low slope requires more attention than steeply pitched roofs.
Most experts recommend thoroughly cleaning your gutters at least twice a year – late summer and early spring. For homes with a lot of trees, it can be necessary to do a couple of cleanings in the fall, when leaves and other debris are their heaviest.
To do their job, gutters and downspouts must be clear of leaves and debris. If they aren’t, drain outlets will dam up and rainwater will fill the gutters, overflow, and eventually pull the gutters loose. Water that pools in troughs will rot wood gutters and rust sheet-metal ones, and further damage can be done to the roof itself when gutters fail.
Steps for Cleaning
You can hire someone to clean your gutters, but many homeowners take care of this task themselves. If you’re confident with working on a roof or ladder, you may save $100-$300. If your roof is higher than a single story, you’re probably better off hiring a gutter cleaning professional.