Fall Clean Up 101: How Often Should I Clean My Gutters?

Owl perched on gutters of metal roof.

Your gutters and drainage system are essential to guarding your home against water damage. When installed correctly, they prevent rain from damaging your siding, windows, and doors by capturing and controlling water shedding off your roof.

So, it's safe to say that keeping your gutters clean and clear of debris is non-negotiable. Yet, too often, homeowners will leave this vital task to the very last minute.

What Happens If You Don't Clean Your Gutters?

Before we can answer this question, let's first review the many components that make up your home's gutter system: 

  • The gutter itself
  • End caps: this stops water from uncontrollably pouring out from the sides of your home and onto its exterior.
  • Downspout: the long vertical connector that attaches from your gutter to the ground, sending water out and away
  • Elbow: the opening at the end of the downspout, where water travels out, facing away from your home. 

Now, imagine your gutters are packed down with leaves or anything that creates blockage (e.g., a bird's nest, acorns, twigs, etc.). When this happens, rain and debris try to trickle down the downspout, only to get lodged and trapped. 

The Result? 

Depending on the severity of the blockage and how long this issue persists, you can experience one or all of the following consequences:

Roof & Structural Damage

If your downspout is clogged, water has nowhere else to go, which means it stays where it is—on your roof. Additionally, standing water can create extra weight, causing cracks to develop along your shingles and home's framework, such as soffits and fascia. This will no doubt lead to roof leaks and algae and moss growth. 

Eventually, the standing water has no choice but to run over your gutters and along the sides of your home, causing significant damage to the foundation of your property. 

Ice Formation

Anyone who lives in the Midwest can tell you that it's not unusual to experience freezing temperatures at night, even during the fall. If water remains on your roof and gutters, it will begin to freeze. This, too, adds more weight to the system, causing it to pull it away from your home and create more structural damage.

Pest Populations

Did you know that standing water creates the perfect environment for mosquitos and other pests to gather? It's true! Mosquitoes will land on the gutters and draw in hungry critters in search of food. 

Commercial Property Owners—This Goes for You, Too!

You may have a more extensive foundation, but that means it's even more important that you routinely clean and inspect your gutter and drains to prevent clogs from developing.

Working with a professional roofing contractor can help ensure your commercial roof and its gutter and drainage system are clean and running smoothly. 

How Often Should You Clean Your Gutters?

The general rule of thumb is twice a year, but this depends on the type of gutter system you own and where you live. If you reside in Minnesota, we recommend cleaning your gutters and drains every fall and spring, as this is when we experience the most foliage. However, if you live near a wooded area, you may need to clean your gutters more often.

While cleaning your gutters, check for holes or any types of damage that can create other issues. If you live in a cul-de-sac or near a storm drainage system, for instance, keep an extra eye on debris buildup that could result in blockage and standing water. 

Too often, neighborhood streets quickly become flooded simply because rainwater has nowhere else to go. The flooding will eventually end up on your lawn and driveway, which can create a whole new set of problems.

Need a Fall Roof Inspection?

As we head into October and you begin your fall roof maintenance tasks, don't hesitate to contact our team to give you a hand. 

From professional roof inspections and repairs to full roof replacements, we can help ensure your residential or commercial roof is ready for the seasons ahead.

In the meantime, check out our fall roof inspection checklist to start the process!

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