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Roofing Basics: How Often Should Gutters Be Cleaned?

With everything on your to-do list, cleaning out gutters may not seem like a priority. You will eventually get to it sometime, after all. However, did you know this one task can save you big money on future repair bills?

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Gutters that are left too long to accumulate debris will cause problems from the roof all the way down to your foundation and even basement.

How often should gutters be cleaned? Find everything you need to know here and easy-to-follow steps to make sure it's done right.

Why Clean Gutters Are Important

Even though they are on the roof, the main purpose of gutters is to protect the foundation of your home. Water damage to your foundation can cause structural issues and affect the integrity of the home.

Water that makes its way inside to the basement or crawl space can create a mold problem. This brings another whole set of problems, including a health risk.

In addition, clogged gutters will eventually get very heavy. The weight can cause them to come off, possibly taking some shingles with them. An overflow of water onto the roof can also weaken the shingles.

So you can see there are many important reasons to make sure the gutters are kept clean and free of debris.

How Often Should Gutters Be Cleaned?

Now that you know why gutter cleaning is necessary, the question is, how often?

Most experts recommend at least two times a year. Once in the spring, after all the winter weather has passed. The other time would be the fall after most of the leaves have come off the trees.

Keep in mind, though, that these are just estimates. You should adjust this schedule based on a few factors.

If you live in an extremely cold area, you may need to check on the gutters more often to make sure there are no frozen spots. If there is an abundance of trees in the yard, especially trees close to the house, a quick look can tell if small limbs or leaves are becoming a problem.

After a storm is also a good time to inspect and clear away any debris that may have landed both on the roof or in the gutters. This may sound like a lot of time on a ladder, but the cost savings and protecting your home is worth it.

Should You Clean Them Yourself?

Only you can truly answer that question. Cleaning gutters can be a messy job. Plus, you are on a ladder most of the time.

If you have a two-story house, then you will be cleaning high gutters as well.

It is not an extremely difficult job, but in order to prevent the issues listed above, it does need to be done correctly. If you are uncomfortable with being on a ladder for long periods of time or do not feel up to the task, then you should hire a professional to do it for you.

Not only do they have the right equipment, but they also have the experience to correctly complete all the steps. 

How to Clean Gutters

You should prepare before cleaning your gutters to keep yourself safe. If you have decided to go ahead and do them yourself, here are the steps to take.

Gather the Supplies

Before you start, gather everything you need. Of course, you will need a ladder. You will also need a pair of work gloves, a small hand trowel, a bucket, a tarp, and your garden hose with a spray nozzle.

Once you are ready, make sure there is someone else who knows you will be on a ladder outside your home as a safety precaution.

Remove Any Debris

Once you are up there, use either your gloved hand or the trowel to scoop the debris out of the gutter. You can then put it in the bucket if you have one or drop it down to the ground on the tarp you have laid out.

Move in sections, and be careful to get everything as you go.

Flush Out the Gutters and Downspout

After you have removed the leaves and debris, take the water hose and spray it into the gutters to wash any remaining material down the spout. Then flush water into the downspout to clear any potential clogs there.

Before climbing back down the ladder, make sure to check that the gutters are firmly attached to the fascia. This is the wood backing that secures the gutters to the roof. If there are any loose spots, use a sealant.

Also, check for any obvious damage to shingles in the area.

You will want to check the downspout at the ground level to make sure everything is flowing as it should. If you feel there is still a clog, you may need to use a snake tool to work it out.

Once you have successfully tackled this job, you may feel comfortable enough to move on to other exterior remodeling projects.

When Should Gutters Be Replaced?

Even with regular inspection and cleaning, the gutters on your home will eventually need replacing. How will you know the right time?

If the gutters have significant cracks or splits, it is time to considering replacing them. They will not function properly, and damage is soon to follow.

When the gutters begin to sag or pull down from the house, they are not effectively draining water. This means an upgrade is in order.

If you see pooling water or mildew near the foundation of your home, take notice. This could be an indication that the gutters have stopped working. You can go through the above steps to see if a thorough cleaning will fix this but be prepared for needing a new gutter system. 

Sometimes you need more than to replace the gutters. If you think you are ready for a new roof, here is your complete guide.

A Clean Gutter Makes a Happy Home

Cleaning your gutters is not something you need to do every week, but it is an important task that should be taken care of on a regular basis.

Knowing the answer to how often should gutters be cleaned will keep the roof, the foundation, and everything in between protected from devastating water damage.

For more information, roofing services, and helpful tips on all things related to your roof, please reach out.

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