HomeownerEducational: A-M

Gutter Cleaning

Gutter Cleaning Educational Content

Poor maintenance can cause your gutters to sag, leak, or overflow. If you notice any of those problems, your gutters are in need of a good cleaning. Lack of gutter maintenance can increase the chances of a host of problems, including water damage inside and outside your house.

Sagging gutters. Clogged gutters get heavy. If the gutters get heavy enough, they can sag or pull away from your house. Gutters may also pull away when the surrounding wood rots. Pulling and sagging can also happen when the gutter hangers get damaged or bent. This problem can usually be fixed by adjusting or fixing the hangers causing the problem. If the gutters are in serious disrepair, however, replacing the gutters altogether might be the best option.

Leaking gutters. Leaks happen when there are loose seams, corroded areas, or holes or cracks in the gutter material. These spots are hard to see in dry weather. Instead, watch your gutters the next time it rains. Leaves and other debris caught under a seam is a sign of a leak in that spot. Leaky seams can be taken apart, cleaned, and then rejoined with a bead of fresh sealant. Holes are usually caused by corrosion and rust. To patch a hole, cover it with a piece of metal flashing glued down with roofing cement.

Overflowing gutters. Gutters can overflow for several reasons. Sometimes, the gutter troughs are too narrow. Gutters clogged with debris will overflow. Gutters installed with the wrong degree of slope will also overflow. Ideally, gutters should slope downward toward a downspout at about a half inch for every twenty feet.

Gutter debris. Through the seasons, gutters collect debris. This can include everything from leaves and pine needles to seeds and shingle granules. In fact, seeds that fall into the gutter trough can grow there if they aren’t cleaned out.

Clogged downspouts. Downspouts are the pipes that lead water out of your gutters and away from your house. They can get clogged with leaves, pine straw, or other debris, causing your gutters to overflow.

There are several methods professional gutter cleaners can use to clean your gutters. Some companies use a vacuum system to remove the leaves and other debris. Others use a high-powered pressure washing system. Other companies clean the debris out of the gutters by hand, then blow or flush out the downspouts.

Before any work starts, ask the contractor about their plan for debris removal. Some companies will haul away the material removed from the gutters. Others don’t offer debris removal or will do so for a fee.

When to clean. Gutter cleaning should be done a minimum of twice a year. The general rule of thumb is to have the gutters cleaned in the late spring and late fall. If you have lots of trees around your house, you may need to have your gutters cleaned on a quarterly basis. It’s a good idea to check your gutters regularly all year to ensure water is flowing properly.

Safety. The heights involved make gutter cleaning dangerous. Professionals have special safety training as well as the right equipment, like ladders with levelers. Any company working at your home should be fully insured. This is especially true for gutter cleaners, since damage to property is always a possibility. Ask for proof of both workers’ compensation insurance and liability insurance.

Debris removal. Some companies haul away the debris removed from gutters, but some don’t. Debris removal typically increases the cost of the service. When you compare rates, make note of how each company will handle the debris.

Additional costs. When you hire a gutter cleaning contractor, keep in mind that some factors can increase the cost of the job. An especially large house or very high or steep roof may add to the price.

Gutter covers can reduce the amount of debris that collects in your gutters through the seasons. A gutter cover is a smooth piece of curved, painted metal. The cover goes over the top of the gutter to keep out leaves and other debris. When it rains, water flows down the roof onto the cover. The design draws the water around and underneath the cover and into the gutter. Leaves and other debris fall to the ground.

There are lots of gutter covers are on the market, and they all operate on the same basic principle. Gutter protection systems can cost more than conventional gutters. Many products, however, come with extended warranties. These extended warranties cover the system if it breaks or clogs, so they can save you money in the long run.

Gutter covers are sometimes less effective where there are steep valleys on the roof. The large amount of water that comes down the roof at these spots can still overshoot the gutters. For the best performance, you’ll need to have diverters installed. Keep in mind that adding a gutter cover system to your home doesn’t mean that your gutters are now completely maintenance-free. Your gutters should still be inspected periodically. Have the pros make sure that the gutters and downspouts are clear and free from damage.

Before you sign a contract or any work begins, discuss the details of the job with your contractor. Make sure you understand which cleaning method they plan to use. Also ask how long they estimate the job will take and what they will do with the debris afterward.

Gutters can be installed almost year-round, but they should be cleaned at key points during the year. For this reason, it is important to plan ahead when it comes to gutter maintenance services. Do your best to schedule your gutter cleaning service appointments well in advance. This helps prevent debris from accumulating for months on end.