Preparing for Fall: Keeping Rain Gutters Clear to Avoid Water Damage

Gutters are an integral piece of your building’s well-being; they control the water flow around your building, to protect your roof, walls, foundation, and landscape.  A gutter clogged with leaves, sticks, and other debris can cause a leaky roof or water damage to the interior or exterior of your facility. Additionally, contractors say that gunked-up gutters also make nice homes for pests, rodents, mold, and honeycombs from bee infestations. By following simple gutter cleaning tips, you can help avoid major and expensive building repairs.

  • Gutter Cleaning Tips
    • The frequency of which you should clean your gutters depends mainly on how many trees surround your building, but a best practice is to clean them out in the spring and fall.
    • If you choose to handle the gutter cleaning yourself, be sure to practice ladder safety.
      • Ladder should be placed on a level, hard surface
      • Do not lean ladder against gutters, which could cause them to collapse
      • Be sure ladder is in good condition
    • Hiring a professional may be the best option, and they can also do a great job of cleaning out your downspouts, removing soil from your roof, and checking for and repairing any loose gutter spikes.
      • Be sure the professional you hire carries liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance, to protect you against any possible injury.
    • Install gutter covers
      • After cleaning out your gutters, consider inserting leaf guards/screens which can stretch out the need for you to clean them from every 6 months to every 1-3 years. These guards keep out 80-85% of debris, but some can still get in, so be sure to check them at least twice a year to see if they need to be cleaned.
  • Risks of Clogged Gutters
    • Basement Leaking: Clogged gutters are the number one cause of basement water problems. When gutters are clogged, roof water overflows and accumulates around the foundation. If this happens, basement leaks may be moments away.
    • Cracked Foundations: Clogged gutters can cause excess water against the foundation wall to weaken the footing and lead to foundation wall cracks. This is particularly true in the colder months when built-up water at the foundation freezes can cause severe cracks to foundation walls.
    • Rotten Wood: Water backing up from clogged gutters will cause moisture damage to the wood fascia around the building. The rotted area will quickly get worse if the leak is not eliminated by cleaning the gutters.
    • Leaking Roofs: In winter, ice dams can form on top of clogged gutters. Snow then builds up across the top of the clogged gutter and freezes. During the next thaw, water running off the roof is blocked by the frozen snow and backs up into the building. This can lead to major wall and ceiling damage.
    • Slippery Sidewalks in Winter: Overflowing gutters can deposit water on walks and driveways where it can freeze and cause a slipping hazard. Avoid this problem by keeping gutters clean and the spouts extended away from any traffic areas.
    • Cracked Driveways: Misdirected and clogged gutter spouts often cause driveways and walks to sag and crack.
    • Wood Destroying Insects: Bugs love moisture. Keeping gutters free of clogs and keeping the soil dry around the foundation perimeter can force bugs to go elsewhere for a tasty snack.