6 Signs You Have Clogged Gutters

a baseball in a clogged gutter

The Universe has long been thought to send ambiguous signals, warnings, and other messages to people here on earth. But when it comes to the signs your clogged gutters are giving, you don’t have to be intuitive to decipher them. Just use your eyes; they’ll tell you everything you need to know. From gutter spillage and sagging to stains on your siding, standing water around your foundation, and more, here are six signs you have clogged gutters.

1. Water is Spilling Over the Sides of Your Gutters

water overflowing from a roof gutter
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Probably the most obvious sign of all, when you see water pouring over the sides of your gutters, there’s definitely a clog. This means the next time it rains, stormwater runoff won’t be able to be channeled through the downspouts and into a proper drain away from your home. This overflow potentially leads to structural issues, erosion, flooding, and water pollution.

One such structural issue can involve your roof. Water flow with nowhere to go will pool on top of it, eventually causing leaks inside your home. Easy to miss until serious damage has already been done, leaks may first form in your attic, within your walls after infiltrating damaged bricks and mortar, or between your siding and drywall, particularly at the fascia boards (where your siding meets your roof).

2. You Notice Your Gutters Are Sagging

Another telltale sign? Sagging gutters. Just as a bookshelf or pantry shelf will sag under the weight of a collection of good reads or bulk grocery buys, your gutters will start to sag if they accumulate an excessive amount of leaves, sticks, dirt, and other debris over time. If not remedied quickly, sagging can result in a full-on gutter fracture, removing the option to repair in favor of a more costly complete replacement.

3. There Are Stains on Your Siding

Stains on the siding of your home are a sure sign of gutter blockage, too. As runoff from rainstorms (or snowstorms) consistently overflow down your home’s exterior, it can seep through the wood, leaving behind dark water stains. Additional discoloration from water damage can be caused by resulting mold, mildew, and rust. 

Beyond disrupting the aesthetics of your home’s facade, the growth of mold and mildew can lead to potential health problems if left untreated. Further, this type of water damage can also end up destroying your gutter system completely.

4. Plus, Other Things Are Growing in Your Gutters

gutter clogged with leaves
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Gutter gardens are cool and all — when repurposed as decorative, budget-friendly containers for herbs, flowers, fruits, and veggies. But when standing water combined with dirt and debris collects in and around gutters you’re actually using, it can create the perfect environment for wayward seeds to root and grow. These growing seeds obstruct your gutters even further — think sprouting tree seeds, weeds, moss, and grasses.

With a whole new ecosystem comes more signs of life, as in wildlife, which brings us to our next point.

5. Your Gutters Are Harboring Birds and Pests

A high location pre-filled with nesting materials like leaves, twigs, and dirt is all that will matter to birds when they scope out your gutters as a potential spot to build their home. Additionally, any standing water will attract pests, including mosquitos, ants, roaches, and termites. Mosquitos use standing water to lay their eggs. Other pests also like to nest near water, as it provides hydration and may indicate food is in close proximity.

Other signs of life drawn to standing water in clogged gutters include mold, bacteria, viruses, and parasites, all of which can ultimately infiltrate a homeowner’s water system and spread disease. If severe, mold can also eat away at a home’s structure, weakening it and causing parts of it to completely collapse.

6. There’s Standing Water Around Your Foundation

When water continuously spills over the sides of your clogged gutters, it can also pool around your home’s foundation. As the ground won’t be able to keep up with the rate of absorption needed, you’ll probably start to notice basement flooding and other leaks inside your home. 

Besides leaks and flooding, the same dangers of standing water discussed earlier hold true in this case, as well.

FAQ About Clogged Gutters

How can you unclog a gutter?

Fortunately, clearing clogged gutters is an easy DIY job for most homeowners. All you need is a ladder, work gloves, and a bucket or trash bag. 

Once you’ve gathered those materials, climb the ladder (ensuring, first, that it’s secure), scoop the buildup into the waiting receptacle, and dispose of it in a compost bin or naturalized wooded area of your yard. 

Another option is to use a gutter cleaning vacuum, which allows you to work from the ground. It also cleans the gutter more efficiently. 

Of course, if you’d rather not do any of that — or if you’re physically unable — call up a local pro to handle things for you.

Why do gutters get clogged in the first place?

Simply put, they get clogged because things fall into them, restricting the movement of water. A major culprit? The gorgeous canopy of trees surrounding your home. If close enough to your roof and gutters, dropped twigs, leaves, and dirt can easily end up in your gutters, collecting over time. Other causes of clogged gutters include:

Faulty gutter design/drainage system
Heavy snow
Insufficient regular cleaning
Lack of gutter guards

What can happen if gutters are clogged for a long time?

Thinking clogged gutters are no big deal is a mistake that can lead to super expensive repairs. As we mentioned in the section about water spilling over the sides of your gutters, clogs can cause severe structural damage, including roof damage, wall damage, and foundation damage. It can also worsen erosion in your yard and pose health hazards from mold, mildew, and mosquito-borne illnesses.

By the time you finally address these problems, you’ll have racked up a host of expensive repair needs. For example, water leakage from a damaged roof not only means you’ll need to replace your roof, but you may also need to repair your electrical wiring. And, if water is allowed to puddle by your home’s foundation for an extended period, you’ll need to repair that, too, so your home doesn’t ultimately collapse on itself. 

When to Hire a Professional

As stated earlier, you can clear most clogged gutters by yourself, no problem. If your gutter blockage is critical and you’ve started to notice structural damage to your home, you’ll want to hire a local gutter professional. These experts may also be able to assess any harm done to your landscaping, too, such as erosion and flooding, and come up with a plan to remedy that, as well.

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Andréa Butler

Andréa Butler is a writer and editor. And while she hasn't been blessed with DIY skills herself, she is adept at writing and enjoys sharing home improvement tips and pool care guides for the true DIYers out there.