Keeping Your Gutters Cleaned Out
Arguably the most underappreciated and misunderstood feature of many homes is their gutter system. For many homeowners, the purpose of gutters totally eludes them while many of those that do understand their purpose still neglect to give them the attention they deserve, the old “out of sight out of mind” syndrome.
Ignoring gutter cleaning in the short term may not seem to be a big deal, but if they are ignored long enough, it could lead to some costly and even devastating consequences. It is recommended that you have your gutters checked and cleared 2-3 times per year.
The Purpose of Gutters
Why have gutters in the first place? Rain water and snow that melts will just run off the edge of the roof anyway, right? Wrong! The purpose of gutters is not simply to direct water runoff to a common location for aesthetic reason, they serve a far greater purpose.
Most homes are built on a concrete foundation and it is that foundation which gutters protect. Without gutters, rain water and snow melt would collect around the outer edges of the foundation, softening the supporting earth beneath the foundation’s edge which could lead to cracking and separation. This in turn could allow the affected areas of the foundation to settle, including the portion of the home which it supports. This could be devastating.
For homes with basements, the need for gutters is more obvious. Gutters are used to collect and direct water away from the basement to prevent flooding.
Why Should You Clean Your Gutters?
Gutter and downspouts need to remain free of foreign objects in order to function properly. Leaves and small debris falling from surround trees can easily impede water flow rendering the gutter useless. Dirt washed off the roof of the home can be enough to block the free flow of water to the downspout. Regular gutter cleaning is needed to prevent this from happening. As to the frequency of cleaning, well that depends on the particular surroundings of your home, and in cases where heavy leaves fall, gutter cleaning may be required several times each year.
The Risks of Neglecting Gutter Cleaning
The dangers associated with improperly functioning gutters are far more than you probably could imagine. Of course, non-functioning gutters negate their fundamental purpose and could lead to foundation damage. Beyond that, gutters that do not drain properly can lead to wood rot of the fascia board and promote mold growth. Even small blockages can be problematic, as they can create small pools of water which become breeding grounds for mosquitoes and termites. In the cold temperatures, water caught in the gutter and downspout can freeze and damage the gutter system, rendering it ineffective when the temperatures rise again.
All these potential problems can easily be avoided with routine gutter cleaning.