Fall Gutter Care

Sep 17, 2013

If you’ve ever gone through a door in the rain on a house without gutters, you can appreciate how nice it is to have gutters.  Besides the personal convenience they provide of not having to walk through a waterfall to get inside or outside, gutters provide an important function for your home.  They direct water away from your foundation to help avoid potentially costly repairs to your foundation.

It’s easy to overlook gutter maintenance since they’re  up high and unless you have a dormer, you can’t look at them without a ladder.  Unfortunately, gutters like to collect more than water.  Leaves, twigs and other debris will collect in the gutter and downspout, especially during the fall.  This can lead to major problems.

The most obvious issue with clogged gutters is with the gutters themselves.  The build-up of leaves and other material will hold water instead of shedding it away.  This standing water with the decomposing organic material could cause corrosion of the gutters and fasteners.  Also, if the gutters are clogged and full of water, they are heavier and may start to pull away from the house and roof.  At the least, this will allow water to run behind the gutter and down the house siding.  Worse, the gutters could completely rip away from the house and damage the house or injure someone walking below. 

Remember, the primary purpose of your gutters is to carry water away from the base of your house. If clogged, this can’t happen.  Water can spill over with enough force to dig holes in flower beds and gardens. It can also lead to excess water around your home’s foundation causing cracks and leaks weakening your foundation over time.  Gutters fall of debris and water easily freeze over and can be a starting place for ice dams to form.  These ice dams can back up under shingles and cause major damage both inside and outside of your home. 

All of these issues can be prevented with a minimum of maintenance. Whether you clear them by hand or with a hose wand or leaf blower attachment, getting rid of the debris is the first step to gutter maintenance.  While you’re up there, inspect the seams and fasteners to make sure everything is tight. For a few dollars of sealant, you can recaulk the seams to keep everything watertight.  Even better while you’re up there cleaning them, install gutter guards to direct the leaves and debris off of the gutters in the first place and never have to clean your gutters again.