Your home is one of the biggest and best investments you will make in your life. Houses, unlike cars, are considered proper investments like retirement savings plans. You can’t invest in a car because a vehicle’s value depreciates as soon as you drive it off the lot. Houses, on the other hand, typically increase in value.
Isn’t it funny, then, how cars are equipped with warning lights to tell you when you need to do maintenance, yet no such automatic reminders come with a home? Usually, we remember to do home maintenance when something breaks, and unfortunately, it often means big bucks to repair.
Take your gutter system, for instance. Talk about ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Your gutter system, being located outside and off the ground, isn’t in a place where you can see it. It really doesn’t affect your comfort like your AC or Heating System. However, gutters serve one of the most important functions for your home. They are designed to control the flow of water away from your home, preventing a list of problems. You might be surprised by how many issues can arise from clogged gutters. Here they are:
Rainwater will find the path of least resistance. If it comes off your roof and has nowhere to go, it can go behind your soffits and siding all the way to the lowest point in the home, your basement. Another way water can find its way to the basement is if it is not directed away from the home, causing water to collect around the foundation, and as a result, get into your basement.
So you don’t have a basement? Your foundation is just as important. When water is allowed to settle around your home’s foundation and freezes it causes a condition called frost-heave. This can cause severe cracks to foundation walls, causing major structural damage. According to Home Advisor in 2021, the typical homeowner pays between $2,021 and $7,102 for foundation repair.1
Gutters are also a great source of protection against soil erosion. The water coming of the end of a roof can pound into the ground. If you were to walk around a building that does not have gutters you will notice an extremely evident line in the soil at the end of the roof line. Without gutters this line will continually become deeper and more evident.
Loosened gutter with damage to siding and trim
The weight of twigs, water and other debris, especially when frozen, may cause gutters to be heavy and pull away from their attachments, which can cause not only a gutter repair, but also damage to your siding or trim.
If you live in an area where freezing temperatures are common during winter, clogged gutters can form ice dams, which is when water flows over the edges of a clogged gutter and then freezes, potentially forcing water into your home. Ice dams can also become so heavy they may rip the gutter completely off your home.
Rodents love clogged gutters. A small space loaded with sticks and debris is the perfect home for nesting rodents like birds and squirrels. Squirrels can even lift up roof shingles and chew through wood causing roof damage.
Insect breeding ground
Free-standing water and debris filled gutters are a paradise for several species of insects. Mosquitos, wood destroying insects, wasps, and even termites can live inside your gutters and find their way into your home.
The result of moisture being trapped and cut off from air circulating to dry out the wood fascia around the house can destroy your home. The rotted area will quickly worsen if the gutters are not cleaned.
Staining on Walls
On the side of the building at the foot of the walls, if there is runoff from gutters, you will notice a definite staining on the walls. This staining is from the mud and clay that the runoff from the roofs will splash onto the building.
So, now that you know the many dangers of not cleaning your gutters, what’s the best way to prevent these issues before they happen? Typically, you should make a habit of having your gutters cleaned, at minimum, twice per year, usually once in the Spring and once in the Fall. A good way to remember is to time this maintenance with Daylight Savings Time. If you live in an area with heavy foliage, it may require more often cleanings.
And, it’s not necessary to wait until every leaf falls, either. This is a mistake that many homeowners make. The reality is, the fresh fallen leaves are not what is causes the blockage. It’s the decomposed, compacted debris that will create the clogs. It’s best to clear that out before the first freeze, and get the rest in the Spring.