Raising a ladder to dig mud and leaves from your gutters never sounds like a fun job. But if you’re a homeowner, it’s worth the hassle. That’s because cleaning your gutters can help prevent anything from bees’ nests to a bad foundation.
Your gutters and downspouts are designed to divert the flow of water away from your home. It’s an important job, because even a little bit of water can cause a lot of damage.
This year, resist the urge to put off the chore. Need some motivation? Learn about these common problems caused by clogged gutters.
What could happen if you don't clean your gutters?
- Foundation problems: If you have a 2,000-square-foot home, every inch of rain translates to more than 1,200 gallons of water pouring down your roof! A properly functioning gutter will carry that water through a downspout and away from your home. But a clogged gutter does the opposite—allowing water to spill over the sides and pour down your walls. Pooling water around your foundation can cause erosion which weakens the walls, leading to foundation cracks and settling.
- Broken gutters: When your gutters are clogged, the water they collect has no place to go. Instead, it fills your gutters to the brim. With each gallon of water weighing about 8 pounds, all that extra weight can bend your gutters or tear them away from the roof.
- Wall and ceiling damage: Clogged gutters can also cause water leaks on the inside of your home. Trapped water can rot the wooden fascia boards your gutters are mounted to, letting moisture enter your home. And in the winter months, ice dams can drive snow melt underneath your shingles. (Do you know how to remove an ice dam? Find out in this blog post.)
- Wet basement: If your basement isn’t waterproofed, the water pouring down your foundation can lead to a damp basement. This is caused by water seeping through your basement’s porous walls and floor. (Learn more about how installing a French drain could help with basement water issues.)
- Insect infestations: Nobody likes mosquitos in their backyard. But pooling water in your gutters can be the perfect breeding ground for them. Damp mud and leaves can also be an inviting place for bees and wasps to build their nests.
Problems caused by clogged or broken gutters are expensive to fix, but easy to prevent. (Just clear the debris!) But before you get out the ladder, check out these tips on how to clean your gutters safely:
What to know before you clean your gutters:
- Ladder safety 101: Your ladder should be sturdy, safe and large enough for the job. Never stand on the top three rungs of a ladder or put yourself in an unsafe position, and be sure to have someone nearby in case of an emergency.
- Use the proper tools: There are more tools involved than the ladder and your hands. Thick suede gloves, protective eyewear and long sleeves add an extra layer of protection against bacteria, cuts and pests. A plastic scooping tool and bucket can help you clean out and dispose of debris. You can also use a garden hose to wash away mud and unclog downspouts.
- Know when to hire a pro: If the job is too physically demanding or you’d prefer to play it safe and hassle-free, contact a professional to clean your gutters. The cost will vary depending on the size of your home.
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