The effects of climate change are often spoken about in a way that makes them seem like they’re part of a distant future, but in fact, those problems are all around us already. The only thing we can be certain of is that the weather is going to continue to get more extreme in the years ahead, and we all need to do the best we can to be prepared for what’s coming.
There’s not really much you can do about the wider situation, where entire towns could be at risk of flooding, but fortunately, those really big floods only happen occasionally and only affect certain areas (you’ll know if you’re in one of those areas because your insurance premiums will be sky high). Around your own home, however, you can reduce the potential for damage to your property and health by the simple and inexpensive step of installing gutter guards.
Gutter guards are effective protection
The great thing about gutter guards is how simple they are and how effectively they do their job. Even though they are inexpensive, it is important to make sure you are investing in quality.
Gutter guards should be made from a strong material that will not corrode or weaken under normal conditions. If you install gutter guards that aren’t good quality, you can’t be sure they will stand up to the task.
How they work
Gutter guards are made from a mesh material that allows rainwater to fall through while keeping out leaves and other potential contaminants. They also discourage wildlife from trying to take up residence in your downspouts, and prevent birds from bathing in your gutters (don’t worry, there are plenty of other places they can bathe).
If you depend on tank water collected from your roof, this kind of protection isn’t just smart, it’s essential. Otherwise, you have no idea exactly what kind of nasty things might be in that water you’re showering in, washing your clothes in, and perhaps even cooking with.
Why they’re necessary
When your gutters are not protected by gutter guards, the only way you can be really sure that your gutters and downspouts are kept clear of blockages is to clean them out manually.
Few people are willing to put in the effort to do that on a daily or even weekly basis, and even fewer people have the budget to allow for paying someone else to do the job. Considering that for a very small outlay the whole scenario of cleaning the gutters can be avoided, the necessity of gutter guards should be obvious.
A closer look at the problem
To understand what all the fuss is about, we need to understand why leaf accumulation is such a serious problem.
When leaves fall into your guttering, it may not seem like such a big deal (unless you’re on tank water). Leaves are light and have a tendency to blow away by themselves just as easily as they come to land in your gutters. Except that they don’t always blow away, and that’s when a problem starts to slowly but surely build up, layer by layer.
Those leaves that remain in the guttering overnight will get wet from the dew, and they’ll swell up and become clumpy. If you want to get technical about it for a moment, it’s because they contain a fair amount of carbohydrates, which means they soak up water like a sponge. It’s exactly the same reason why your Weeties get soggy if you leave them sitting around in a bowl of milk for more than a few minutes.
The next leaves that land in the gutter have a bigger chance of sticking to the clump and adding to it than they do of blowing away, and so the problem continues to get worse. If that was all that happened, it probably would not be so bad, but a lot of things are going on inside that leaf mass that you ought to be worried about.
A tale of rotting leaves and critical mass
Leaves are naturally designed to rot. Normally, in their natural environment, this is a very good thing for the health of the soil, and it happens quite quickly. It’s a natural composting effect aided by a mix of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria metabolizing the nutrients in the leaves and breaking them down into compost.
When the leaves are not in their natural habitat, however, such as when they’re sitting in your gutters, the metabolic process is far slower, and the ratio of aerobic to anaerobic bacteria is different. It’s slower because when the leaves are not on the ground, there is no fragmentation occurring to help speed the process up.
The slower process and higher heat kills some of the aerobic bacteria and causes fermentation to occur. The anaerobic bacteria, meanwhile, which are stronger, continue getting on with the job. During this process, they create a lot of stinky gasses, including toxic hydrogen sulfide. Thus there is that characteristic “rotting leaves” smell, which is very different from a healthy clean compost smell. The bacteria also produce acids which can damage and corrode the guttering itself.
On top of all this, there’s also the weight of the leaf mass to be taken into account. Gutters aren’t typically designed to hold a lot of weight. They’re meant to simply conduct water away from the roof in an efficient and tidy way. Leaves (and tennis balls) are not meant to be in there.
If the weight of the leaves reaches a point where the fixings of the guttering cannot support that weight, structural damage is inevitable.
Dealing with it
Although having your gutters cleaned is mostly a simple task you can do by yourself, it can be quite time-consuming. If you don’t have the time to do this yourself, there are many options to have it done professionally. It’s a lot more affordable than people may think and it means that a better job is done as they can both clean and repair the gutters and they know what they’re looking for. They are also able to fit gutter guards – screens which can stop leaves and debris falling into your gutters. However, these will also still need maintaining if you want them to last the entire lifetime of your gutter system. In many cases, you can buy the materials alone so that you can do it yourself, but if you don’t have the spare time to do it, it’s best to get a professional involved.
Talk to Aussie Gutter Protection, the leading gutter guard installation company in Melbourne. We’ll provide you with a personalised gutter guard solution for your home. Call the team to discuss your gutter protection needs or alternatively, leave an enquiry with us and we will be in contact with you within 24 hours.