11 Reasons You Should Clean Your Gutters

A man on a ladder cleaning debris from gutters

Clean gutters look good and save you money on repairs down the line. Plus, taking care of your gutters prevents a number of safety hazards. Experts say there are at least 11 good reasons you should clean your gutters regularly.

11 Reasons You Should Clean Your Gutters

Prevent Water Damage in Your Walls

Exterior wall damaged by water leakage
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One of the biggest issues with backed-up gutters is the possible damage to your home. When debris such as leaves, twigs, and dirt gets stuck in your gutters, rainwater has nowhere to go and may seep through your walls and roof, causing damage and even creating mold and mildew.

Eventually, the damage can even extend to your foundation, basement, and other parts of your home. Plus, if you have wooden siding, there’s a risk that it may rot, and repairs may be costly.

Protect Your Foundation

As mentioned above, gutters keep water away from your home, which is vital to protecting it. Without gutters, water can:

  • Run down your walls and infiltrate your foundation
  • Pool around your foundation and eventually erode the soil underneath
  • Compromise your foundation, causing it to shift and crack

Who would have thought that debris in your gutters could lead to a series of problems? That’s why it’s important to clean your gutters regularly. You may also want to consider adding extensions to your downspouts to direct water further away from your home’s foundation.

Prevent Basement Flooding

Flooded basement
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Overflowing water from sagging or blocked gutters can also flood your basement, creating yet another safety hazard. This is obviously a problem for a number of reasons:

  • It’s a serious safety hazard
  • It can damage your property, furniture, and personal items
  • It can cause mold

There you go, yet another reason to invest in taking care of your gutters.

Prevent Roof Damage

Roof with damaged shingles
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Another place that tends to suffer from water damage is your roof. If water is forced to go under shingles or seep through cracks, here’s what can happen:

  • It can cause considerable deterioration to your roof and fascia
  • Your roof can also become moldy, which can significantly shorten its lifespan if you don’t deal with it immediately
  • If you have wooden fascia boards, they can rot

Even minor leakages can cause big problems. Other than taking good care of your gutters, make sure your roof is in good condition and replace any damaged shingles or tiles. Roofs that are in good shape can last years, depending on the type. The National Roofing Contractors Association recommends getting a roof inspection at least twice a year.

Prevent Mold and Mildew

Mold on a wall and window
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We’ve mentioned mold and mildew above already, but they deserve a deeper explanation because they can cause serious health problems and be a nuisance to deal with for a number of reasons. 

Mold and mildew can appear anywhere in your home where there’s moisture. So if your gutters are clogged and causing leakages into any part of your home, mold and mildew can quickly become a problem. 

Reduce Fire Hazards

Fire on a roof
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U.S. fire departments reported an average of 343,100 home fires per year between 2016 and 2020 (NFPA). These fires had various causes, of course.

But leaves, twigs, sticks, and other debris in your gutters (or anywhere on your property, for that matter) can dry out and ignite from lightning, embers from a grill, or a nearby brush fire. Regularly cleaning your gutters helps reduce the risk of a fire starting on your property.

Fires are a serious safety hazard and can cause extensive damage to your home. That gives you another reason to be sure to remove all debris and stagnant water from your gutters regularly.

Keep Your Gutters Functioning Properly

Water flowing out of a downsprout
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Of course, a mass of debris and stagnant water in your gutters can become heavy and affect their condition as well. Gutters need to be pitched slightly to allow water to flow toward downspouts and away from your house. But excessive debris in your gutter system can:

  • Make it sag, making it less effective at directing water away from your home
  • Cause rainwater trenches, which are essentially pools of excess water that can leak into your foundation and basement
  • Make your gutters fall off

Regular cleaning can prevent this and keep your gutters functioning properly. Where the damage isn’t severe, you may be able to replace your gutters in part. However, if the damage is extensive, it may be necessary to replace the entire system.

With proper maintenance and the right material, gutters can last for as long as 20 to 50 years. Be sure to regularly clean your gutters and inspect them for any signs of damage to ensure they stay robust. However, whether you need someone to help you clean your gutters or replace them, be sure to check out our list of gutter pros in your area.

Keep Unwanted Guests Away

Stagnant water, leaves, and other debris in clogged gutters invite insects, birds, squirrels, and other animals to nest and find shelter. This can damage your home’s exterior and create health hazards. Regular maintenance of your gutters helps keep unwanted guests away and protect your home. 

Protect Your Landscaping

Flooded lawn
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Blocked water can flow out of your gutter and onto your landscaping, causing:

  • Soil erosion
  • Damage to your lawn
  • Damage to your flower beds, shrubs, and trees

So even if you’ve been working hard to keep that yard of yours looking beautiful, neglecting your gutters could undo all your hard work. Properly functioning gutters will direct water away from your landscaping and prevent damage. 

Don’t Make Ice Dams Worse

Ice dams
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Homeowners in places with cold winters have another reason to avoid clogged gutters. If melted snow gets into the gutters, it can freeze again and create damaging ice dams. Ice dams can stress your gutters with their weight and cause moisture to seep into your roof, fascia, and soffits. And clogged gutters can make them worse.

When you get ready for the cold season, don’t forget to check your gutters for debris, blockages, and damage. Once snow arrives, keep the amount of it in your room to a minimum.

Keep Your Home Looking Great

While there are more serious reasons you need to keep your gutters clean, we can’t leave out the aesthetic appeal of a well-maintained home. Clogged gutters pose aesthetic issues that may decrease your home’s value and curb appeal, such as:

  • Looking messy due to debris
  • Possible water damage and unsightly stains on your home’s exterior

Get rid of the buildup of leaves, debris, and other materials in your gutters to prevent potential damage and maintain the overall appearance of your home.

FAQ

How often should you clean gutters?

In general, you should clean your gutters at least twice a year. However, this number depends on a variety of factors, such as how many trees you have in your area. Check your gutters regularly and clean them as needed.

What’s a gutter downspout?

A gutter downspout is a vertical pipe that carries water from the gutters to the ground or a drainage system. It is important to ensure that the downspouts are also clear of debris to prevent water damage to your home’s foundation and basement.

Can I clean my gutters myself?

Unless the clogging is severe, you may be able to clean your gutters yourself. But be sure to take the necessary safety precautions. You must be comfortable working on a ladder; it’s best to have another person help you.

However, calling a pro to clean your gutters is the safer option and can prevent further damage should something go wrong.

If you still want to look into cleaning your gutters yourself, here’s a helpful DIY video:

Final Thoughts

In summary, the reasons to keep your gutters clean and functioning are safety, money, and curb appeal. If you avoid dealing with clogged gutters, you risk encountering serious safety hazards and expensive home repairs. Plus, they don’t exactly look nice, either.

Gutter cleaning should become a part of your regular home maintenance because it can prevent these issues and keep your home in top condition. But it can be a challenging job to do it safely and efficiently.

If you need some help taking care of your gutter system, don’t hesitate to look into professional gutter cleaning services in your area.

Main Photo Credit: Nathan / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Judith Gallova