Home Maintenance BasicsCleaning gutters and downpipes is likely the most important home maintenance job that is frequently ignored. The purpose of maintaining your home is two-fold; firstly, to keep it wind and waterproof, and extend its life, and secondly to maintain its value. Ignore this and your equity will soon drop. Not good!

Some people never clean their gutters, while others leave it too late. They wait until the last leaf has fallen, by which time the damage can be done. What damage? Here are some of the problems that can be caused by neglecting this chore.

1. Cleaning Gutters: Weight of Debris

As dirt and vegetation accumulate in your guttering, they absorb water and also promote the growth of seeds deposited on your roof by birds. All of this can become very heavy and place excessive stress on the clips holding your gutter in place. The guttering itself is not attached to your house, but to brackets attached to the walls.

Once the weight of the gutter and its contents exceeds the holding capacity of the brackets, it will detach and fall to the ground. If not directly, the brackets may be weakened, and loosen with the next snowfall. The snow thaws at roof level, slips down the pitched roof and brings down guttering attached to insecure brackets.

2. Water Damage

Gutters are designed to collect rainwater and lead it into downpipes to be drained safely away from the property. If the gutter is full of debris, the water will overflow and run down the sides of the walls. This can get down to the foundations of your home and destabilize it. It can also be uncomfortable to leave your home with a waterfall by your door. Downpipes can become blocked making this scenario all the more likely. Cleaning gutters can avoid this.

A major problem with water penetrating a wall is that the dampness will rot the internal wood structures. This can remain unseen for a considerable period while the structure of your home becomes undermined. Wet and dry rot are both caused by dampness, and can be very invasive and costly to eradicate.

3. Water Freezes

After fall comes winter, when all that water freezes. Water expands when it freezes, and weakens the structures of your home, including the foundations. Bricks, cement and concrete can crack. Once the water melts, it runs further into the cracks, and so the cycle of freezing and thawing continues, all the time weakening the structure of your home. That is the worst scenario, and it does happen to the homes of people that avoid cleaning gutters.

4. Cleaning Guttering: What to Do

Cleaning gutters is not difficult, but it does involve heights. The easiest solution is to employ someone to clean out your guttering, and make sure that your downpipes are clear and functional. Make sure they are insured for this work! It could cost you a lot if there was an accident. There are firms that specialize in this type of home maintenance, but even then make sure they are insured.  Don’t just let your neighbor do it for a few dollars.

Alternatively, use a ladder and do it yourself. Make sure you have somebody holding the ladder. Pull out any grass and vegetation and use a trowel to clear the mud. While it is best to use a bag to collect the debris, you can also simply let it fall to the ground then clear it up there. Use a garden hose, if possible, to flush out the gutter and make sure the water flows freely.

Clean your gutters out regularly: once every 3-4 months if possible. Do not wait until after fall, because by then it may be too late. A regular contract with a specialist company is the best solution. Cleaning gutters is more important than most people realize.

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