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Gutter Maintenance Simplified: The Hows and Whys of Keeping Them Clean


The trickle-down effect is not only a term used to describe Reagan-era economics, but also the detrimental damage clogged gutters can wreak on your home. Taking care of your home from the top can easily prevent future issues from cropping up anywhere between its foundation and its peak.

Why Clear Gutters Are Important

Gutters transport rainwater from your roof to the ground in an orderly fashion, but why can't we let nature run its course and let rainfall where it wants to? Without gutters, water would fall directly from the roof to the ground, making the soil wet and causing erosion to your landscaping and, more importantly, to your home's foundation. When your gutters are blocked, water can fall consistently against the siding of your home, possibly causing it to rot and leading you to have to pay for new siding installation. Blocked gutters also cause snow, ice, and leaf backup on your roof, which is an opportunity for leaks, causing you to call in roofing contractors and pay for roof repair. Clogged gutters are also the number one cause of water problems in basements.

How To Know When Your Gutters Are Clogged

You should unclog your gutters about twice a year. The easiest time to tell when they're clogged is when it's raining and they should be functioning smoothly. Your gutters need to be unclogged if there is water spilling over the edges of the gutters, if water sprays like a fountain between gutter seams and elbow joints, or if there is no water flowing out of downspout extensions.

If you don't prefer to get soaked in the rain while checking the state of your gutters, there are signs for dry weather too. You may need to unclog your gutters if there is peeling paint on your house's siding or fascia, if the siding beneath the gutter is moist, dirty, or wet, or if the dirt directly below the gutter is eroded.

How To Unclog Your Gutters

Before calling your roofing contractors, you can try solving the issue yourself. First, you must identify where the clog is in the gutters. The location of the clog will determine how you fix your gutters' flow.

  • Clogged in the downspout cage: Located where the downspout intersects the gutter, the downspout cage is a wire strainer that traps debris while allowing water to flow through. If this is the problem area, you should remove the cage and clean it and the accumulated debris in the gutter, then replace the cage and make sure it is in a stable position.

  • Clogged because of gutter hangers or spikes: These pieces of the gutters can slip off of the house's fascia and into the gutters, causing an obstruction for debris and water. If this is the case, simply clean out the clogged debris and replace the loose hangers or spikes.

  • Clogged in the downspout elbow or seam: To test if the clog is inside the downspout, tap with a screwdriver along the downspout starting from the gutter. When you hear a dull thud instead of a hollow ring, there is a clog inside. You may be able to reach the clog from above with a plumbing snake, stick, or a pressure water hose. If that doesn't work, you can disassemble the downspout from the ground.

Keeping your gutters clean can also mean keeping the rest of your home damage-free. By simply checking in on the quality of the water flow in your gutters, you can avoid having to call roofing contractors or roofing companies for roof replacement or repair in the near future.

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