How Often Should I Clean my Gutters?
Cleaning gutters can be a dirty, strenuous and sometimes risky business, so many people either avoid it altogether or delay the task for as long as they can. Although that obviously saves on immediate work, it can increase the amount that’s needed in the long-term because problems will tend to build up.
Gutters are usually out of your normal field of vision, and so you don’t really notice them until something goes wrong. And when it does go wrong, the damage has already been done and it’s often too late to avoid significant disruption and expense.
The Problems that Blocked Gutters Can Cause
Particularly at certain times of the year, gutters can become clogged with leaves, twigs and other debris that have blown into them. When it rains, some of this debris may get washed into the downpipes. The result is that, with the gutters and the downpipes blocked, rainwater has nowhere to go other than to overflow the gutters.
When gutters do overflow, especially at times of heavy rain, the water runs down walls and across doors and windows, possibly causing staining. The water may also overtop into the roof area or penetrate the walls, causing problems of damp and mould that are both unsightly and damaging to health.
Water that runs down walls and penetrates into the basement can cause damage to the contents there, including the house electrics. It can also affect the foundations of the building, threatening the integrity of the property.
Leaves that are decomposing in your gutters will attract birds, mice and other animals as well as insects that are searching for food there. These can then penetrate into the house and will cause damage and health problems.
Problems with clogged gutters should soon become apparent as water will drip or pour from them during and after rain. You’ll also see pools on the ground, damp patches on internal walls and an increase in insects and other wildlife. By this time, action will be desperately needed and could have been avoided by earlier measures.
The Need for Earlier Action
As with many questions of timing, the frequency of gutter cleaning will depend on your particular circumstances. Some insurance companies advise an annual clean although this is too general to be widely adopted.
If you live in an open area with few trees nearby and relatively low annual rainfall, it might be sufficient to undertake a quick clean every two to three years. On the other hand, if you’re overlooked by many trees and live in a coastal area where rainfall can be very heavy, more frequent cleaning is necessary — possibly two or three times a year.
At the very least, you should check your gutters at least once a year, ideally just before the rainy season is due to begin. As well as looking for debris and other sources of potential blockages in your gutters, ensure all gutters and downpipes are in good condition, properly connected and with no obvious damage.
If cleaning is needed, make sure you wear gloves and eye protection so you will avoid injury and infection. Also ensure you work safely on ladders and use proper tools, rather than sticks or other equipment that may damage your gutters.
Remove stubborn debris with brushes and scrapers, putting it in a bin or for composting rather than just leaving it on the ground where it may attract insects and vermin. Use a hosepipe to remove final deposits and, if necessary, clean with bleach and water to get rid of mould. If you find any leaks, repair them with a high-quality sealant to make the gutter watertight.
The Alternative to Frequent Gutter Cleaning
If you’re really not happy cleaning your gutters, either due to the effort and mess involved or because you’re not confident working at height, try an alternative. One way is to engage a professional cleaning firm, although this may prove expensive, especially if you live in an area where frequent cleaning is necessary.
A better solution may be to fit gutter guards, which can prevent most of the debris getting into gutters in the first place. Gutter guards fit unobtrusively on top of your gutters and allow rainwater to flow through but prevent leaves and other debris entering. This keeps your gutters clear and avoids the need for regular cleaning, although periodic inspections are still advisable to check for faults.
At Aussie Gutter Protection, we supply and install a variety of gutter guards that are made from the finest materials, are durable, non-flammable and effective in protecting your gutters. If you live in an area of high rainfall and are affected by falling leaves or other debris as well as pests, gutter guards will avoid a lot of work and keep your property free from rainwater damage.