5 Ways to Prevent Clogged Gutters and Downspouts

leaves stuck in a gutter

Rain gutters and downspouts are an important part of your house. If they get clogged, they can’t do their job. As a result, issues like water damage and foundation or basement problems can occur. By keeping your gutters free of clogs, you can prevent having to go through costly, intensive repairs. Below are 5 ways to prevent gutter clogs, saving you a lot of time and headache.

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5 Ways to Prevent Clogged Gutters

leaves stuck in a gutter downspout
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1. Keep Up With Gutter Cleaning

One of the best ways homeowners can keep clogs from forming in their gutters is cleaning and maintenance. In order to avoid clogs and continue functioning, gutters require regular cleaning to remove the debris that builds up over time. Cleaning will also keep standing water from forming, which can rust your gutters and cause other problems.

As a rule of thumb, you should clean gutters twice a year. However, if your area gets frequent storms, you’ll likely need to do it more often. The same can be said if you have a lot of trees in your yard, especially if their branches overhang your roof or if they’re certain species that create a lot of litter.

Cleaning also extends to your roof and shingles. By cleaning your roof and keeping it in good condition, you’ll lessen the amount of debris that can fall into your gutters, which in turn will keep you from having to clean them so often. Even just using a garden hose or leaf blower to get the debris off your roof can make a difference.

2. Consider Gutter Guards

installing a leaf gutter guard
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If you want to keep your gutters from getting blockages, you can install gutter guards to prevent debris from getting in in the first place. Gutter guards are screens that go over your gutters and protect them from debris, like leaves, while letting water pass through. There are a few different types of gutter guards, such as micro mesh and reverse-curve, each with their own pros and cons, so make sure you choose the one that’s right for you.

Keep in mind that gutter guards, also known as gutter covers, will not eliminate the need for gutter cleaning altogether. You still need to keep up with regular gutter cleaning and maintenance, but gutter screens should hopefully make clogs less frequent and cleaning less of a hassle.

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3. Trim Your Trees

If you have trees on your property, trimming them will reduce the amount of debris you have to scoop out of your gutters. Trim any tree branches that overhang your roof so that they don’t drop leaves or other litter into the gutters. Even if they’re not close to your roof, however, you should still trim away any dead leaves on a regular basis so that the wind doesn’t blow them in.

Some species of trees are particularly bad offenders when it comes to leaf litter. Pines, for example, drop a lot of pine needles that can clog your gutters. Certain pear, chestnut, and walnut species also create a lot of litter. If you have any of these trees, you’ll have to trim more and clean your gutters more often.

4. Keep Your Gutters Aligned

A workman carefully installing a gutter, keeping in regard the pitch
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Another part of preventing your gutters from clogging is to make sure they’re aligned right. If the pitch is off, water flow will be slower and can’t move through the gutter system as effectively, which means that debris and leaves aren’t getting carried away with it. Improper alignment will also create standing water, which causes other gutter problems, such as rust.

If you live in an area with cold winters, gutter alignment is especially important to prevent ice dams. When standing water in your gutters freezes, it creates a blockage of ice that prevents any water flow. The elbows of downspouts are particularly susceptible to ice dams, so keep a close eye on them.

5. Hire a Professional

If you want to keep your gutters in good condition, but don’t want to put in the work yourself, you can always hire someone to do it for you. Professionals can clean and maintain your gutters so that you don’t have to worry about it. 

FAQ About Gutters

How do I keep my gutters in good condition?

Regular maintenance is the key to keeping your gutter system in working order. Clean your gutters regularly and make sure they’re draining right. In addition, address any rust, mildew, or other problems in order to prevent something small from deteriorating your rain gutters.

Why are my gutters overflowing, even though they’re clean and don’t have clogs?

If your gutters overflow during a rain shower even without clogs, it’s likely they’re not big or strong enough for the amount of rainfall your area gets. In that case, you’ll want to get them replaced with larger gutters that can handle the extra water.

Are seamless gutters easier to clean?

Yes. One way that clogs can form is debris getting caught in the gutters’ seams and building up over time. Seamless gutters have no such seams, so they’re less likely to develop buildup. Keep in mind, however, that this does not mean that seamless gutters don’t need to be cleaned. Seamless gutters still need regular cleaning and maintenance just like standard ones.

What is a fascia board?

The fascia board is the part of your roof that your gutters attach to. Together with the soffit, it holds your gutters in place. It’s very important to keep your fascia in good condition–– as it starts to deteriorate, your entire gutter system can collapse.

Clear Out the Clogs

To recap, the best way to prevent your gutters from clogging is regular cleaning and maintenance. Keeping up with your gutters’ maintenance will go a long way towards extending their lifespan and preventing issues that will lead to much more serious problems down the line.

If you’re having troubles with your gutters, contact a local gutter professional. Plenty of gutter experts are ready to help you with your outdoor and home care needs.

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Austin Geiger

Austin Geiger is a writer who's passionate about home care. He enjoys writing about home maintenance practices, as well as projects to turn an outdoor space into a backyard paradise.