Why you MUST clean your gutters:
“Winter is Coming”, not only in the Game of Thrones but soon here in New England.
While gutter cleaning is not the most glamorous of tasks it certainly ranks as one of the most important in keeping your house well maintained.
Gutters have the job of carrying water from your roof, down the leaders (aka downspouts) to the ground AWAY from your foundation. If any part of this system fails the results can be very costly.
In the colder months clogged gutters and downspouts can results in ice dams, which may look picturesque but are dangerous and the culprit of many household disasters. Ice dams happen when trapped water and debris freezes and thaws over again and again. The ice can creep under your roof shingles and behind your fascia boards (which the gutters hang on); when these ice dams melt the resulting water can seep into your ceilings and walls causing visible damage to plaster, paint and flooring, not to mention the unseen threat of mold growth.
On the exterior it frequently results in premature and often gross paint failure and can also lead to rotten sills and trim boards. If the gutters get too heavy with ice they can come loose and sag or even tear off the house. Not pretty.
If water overflows your gutter and falls to the ground close to your house it can not only harm your landscaping, but can also cause cracks in your foundation, due to freezing and subsequent expansion.
While many homeowners leave the task of gutter cleaning to their landscapers who often use their blowers to clear the dry leaves out, this is wholly inadequate. Not only should the leaves be cleared but the composting sediment should be scraped off the bottom of the gutters and the downspouts be cleared of all debris. This OFTEN means you must take the elbow apart to clear a clog. The gutters should then be flushed to ensure the water is efficiently running to the ground and away from the foundation.
Of course there are many late night gadgets that promise to make gutter cleaning either obsolete or a simple, pleasurable task, but it is our opinion the best way to do it is by climbing a ladder, rolling up your sleeves and diving in. This serves to ensure that not only are the gutters and leaders clear, but also provides an opportunity to inspect the hangers and look for evidence of damage and rot that can be addressed before it escalates into something larger and much more costly to remedy.
We advise having your gutters cleaned in late spring because insects and critters love the dark damp compost that accumulates at that time of year, AND in the fall once the vast majority of leaves have, well, fallen. The majority of homeowners wait only until the leaves are off the trees; this may be sufficient but keep a close eye on where and how the water flows.
If you’re at all uncomfortable with heights, ladders or muck give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you out.