Six Great Reasons to Clean Your Gutters (And What Happens if You Don't)

Six Great Reasons to Clean Your Gutters (And What Happens if You Don't)

Gutter maintenance is one of the best (and relatively cheap and easy) ways to maintain your home. The benefits are aesthetic and practical, and can potentially help you avoid more serious damage and costly repairs.

1) Blocked gutters can cause structural damage to your house

Blocked gutters lead to water not draining properly from your roof. This applies to both rainwater and winter snowmelt.

In some cases, the water will accumulate in some parts of the roof (e.g. so called roof valleys), which isn't ideal in itself, because stagnant water can leak into the roofspace, as well as harbour pests.

Mostly, though, the water will find its way down: sometimes overflowing the blocked gutter, sometimes in the gaps between the guttering and the roof or soffit/facia. Either way, instead of efficiently draining down the downpipes, it will often end up hitting a specific spot on the wall, window or another part of the building. This can lead to water ingress -- walls and render are not built to withstand continuous and concentrated assault from streams of water. Wooden parts of the house, or joints between structural elements, even less so.

Such leaks can cause aesthetic and worse issues inside, including stains, damaged paint, carpets or furniture; as well as damp and mould; as well as, eventually, if left unattended, structural damage.

Another aspect of structural damage is the potential of poorly drained rainwater undermining the foundations, if the water accumulates on the ground near the walls of the house. Correct drainage is essential at all levels.

Gutters exist for a reason, which is to quickly and efficiently drain rainwater and snowmelt away from your roof and walls. Keep them clear and your home will remain dry, safe and structurally sound for longer!


2) Blocked gutters can cause damage to your garden features and landscaping

Overflowing gutters will typically sag and overflow in specific places rather than along the whole length of the gutter. Similarly to water ingress into the structure of your home, water pouring onto your gravel, flowerbeds or borders or other parts of your garden, might wash away the soil, dislodge the gravel and damage the plants directly. 

Clear gutters will ensure that your roses and herbaceous borders will grow happily, rather than drown. 


3) Clogged gutters just don't look very attractive

Whether you are planning to place your house on the market or just want to look at your home yourself with pride and pleasure, guttering is part of the "kerb appeal" and clean, not sagging gutters make the house look neater and better maintained. 

The most heavily clogged gutters, left uncleared for a longer period, will not just overflow when filled with water, causing unsightly stains on the walls as well as damage to the house. The debris accumulated in the gutter makes a ground for seeds to start germinating, and it doesn't take long for vegetation to take hold. From grass to moss to little (and sometimes not so little) bushes and trees, those "roofedge gardens" make the house look neglected. Avoid that abandoned look by keeping your gutters clear and clean, inside-out. 


4) Gutters filled with rubbish can themselves get damaged

The weight of the accumulated debris, be it leaves or other parts of vegetation, especially when soggy wet, and even more when frozen, can cause the gutters to sag, the joints between gutter sections to unseal and sometimes the whole guttering to break, leading to expensive replacement of gutters or brackets.

As often is the case with guttering, prevention is much better than having to repair or replace damaged goods. 


5) Debris clogging gutters invites pests

In addition to direct negative effects of clogged gutters, accumulating debris provides fertile feeding grounds and safe haven for certain kinds of wildlife: especially insects (such as some kinds of ants), but sometimes other pests. Not the kind of wildlife you want to harbour nearby or invite into your home!


6) Clogged gutters can lead to blocked downpipes and underground drainage pipes

Cleaning a gutter is relatively easy -- whether by a professional, or DIY, the relative accessibility of guttering makes it less of a daunting task. Sometimes, though, the debris that clogs the gutter will moved down the downpipe (it's easy for the mesh balloon protecting the outlet to get dislodged, and some gutters don't have those at all). 

A blocked downpipe can be a much more serious problem, and although rodding might be enough, it's not always a completely straightforward task. You risk shifting the blockage underground, which might require specialist help to unblock. 

So much easier (and cheaper!) to keep your gutters regularly cleaned!

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