How Often Should You Clean Your Gutters?

Monday, September 28 2015 4:45 PM

Fall is a common time of year to clean the gutters because of all the leaves falling from the trees, but is once a year enough? According to most experts, it’s not.

What’s the best time of year to clean gutters?

To keep water flowing freely through your home’s gutters and downspouts, it’s a good idea to clean them at least twice a year. In addition to a spring and fall cleaning, check your gutters for debris after big storms, when tree limbs, trees and small branches could have blown onto the roof. If you have trees near your home, you’ll also want to clear out any accumulated leaves and pine needles in early and mid-summer.

What do gutters do?

An important part of your home’s roofing system, gutters direct water from rain and melting snow down and away from the foundation.

Why is it important to keep them clean?

If your gutters are clogged, they’ll overflow with water. This can cause damage to the roof and fascia that leads to mold and mildew growth and attracts insects like termites and carpenter ants. Water dripping around your home’s perimeter can wash out the soil around the foundation and even cause flooding in your basement or crawl space.

The weight of these clogged gutters can cause them to loosen and pull away from the house, which can also damage the roof and siding. In the winter, ice dams can develop when water from partially-melted snow freezes on top of clogged gutters, weighing them down and causing water to build up under the roof and seep into your home.

How do I clean my home’s gutters?

If live in a single-story home, you may be able to clean your gutters yourself without too much trouble. Some common methods include using a hose and spray nozzle to flush out debris, vacuuming it out with a shop vac, or simply scooping it out with a garden trowel. Whatever method you choose, be careful not to damage the gutters, and make sure to have someone hold the ladder steady for you. It’s also a good idea to wear gloves, safety goggles and a dust mask to protect against small, sharp debris that could fly back at you. As a last step before you’re finished, use a garden hose to flush any remaining dirt out of the downspouts and make sure the water flows freely.

While you’re cleaning, check your gutters for leaks, rust, and other signs of damage that may mean it’s time to repair or replace them. Properly installed and maintained aluminum gutters can last as much as 30 or 40 years, but if you notice problems or you’re not comfortable climbing up to clean them, contact a roofing professional.

Prevent clogged gutters

Consider installing gutter guards or covers to prevent debris from accumulating in the channels and reduce the need for cleaning.

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