Gutters are an essential feature responsible for diverting water so it doesn’t collect and stagnate around a home and cause damage to the roof and foundation. However, you may be curious about what happens if you neglect to clean your gutters. When a home has poorly maintained gutters, it can cause significant problems like topsoil erosion, attract insects and small mammals, and support mold and rot growth.
Unfortunately, clean, functional gutters are expected to be included with a house but do not add to a property’s value. But, neglecting to routinely inspect and clean gutters at a minimum of two times a year can lead to expensive repairs and even replacement. Depending on an installed gutter’s type, age, and condition, the lifespan may vary, but keeping gutters clean improves performance.
Common Problems with Poorly Maintained Gutters
The cost of cleaning a gutter system depends on the size of a home, the level of cleaning needed, and specific costs for taking care of the downspout. Typically, the average price for gutter cleaning is around $0.80 per foot, which works out to a little under $200 to clean 200 feet of gutters. A good time to have gutters professionally cleaned is during the spring and fall seasons.
Most problems surrounding a home’s gutters are preventable and a matter of not attending to routine maintenance. When there are extended bouts of heavy rain and storms or leaves begin to fall, it is critical to check on gutters. There may be times when gutters will need some attention; otherwise, there may be problems in the future.
Outstanding Water Damage
Clogged gutters filled with leaves and other debris are no laughing matter and can lead to costly repairs or outright replacement. If gutters are not cleaned, and clogs persist, pools of water can form and settle into open nooks or crannies of the foundation, weakening structural integrity. There may be flooded areas in the surrounding landscape, leading to soil erosion, damaged plants, and might require replacing the turf.
Neighboring driveways are susceptible to gradual damage when dirty gutters make it impossible for water to pass through channels, spilling and seeping into cracks and crevices. The roof is an immediate problem area because collected water and damp tiles attract pests, insects, and may lead to mold, algae, and rot. When the temperatures plunge, standing water in gutters can turn into ice, causing gutters to pull away from a property and damage the roof and sides.
Squirrels, mice, bats, and insects are always looking for a way to gain entrance into a home and look for vulnerable openings. The roof and foundation are two entry points, which may develop open spaces or rotten tiles when water cannot drain off and into blocked gutters. Gutters with areas with stagnant water, clogs, and places to burrow and hide make potential homes for small creatures.
Birds may build nests in piles of leaves and debris in dirty gutters. Ants, termites, roaches, and wasps also find clogged gutters with debris and standing water an attractive place to breed and build nests. Inspecting and cleaning gutters of any build-up and water help dissuade pests from making themselves at home.
Sagging and Leaks
After a rainstorm or following the thaw of snow and ice, it’s good to inspect gutters for potential damage like leaks and corroded sections. Neglected gutters may start to fall away from the home due to rusting hardware or the weight of impacted debris and water inside. There may be leaks along the gutter or problems with the downspout where water is not being adequately moved about the property.
Wood, siding, and roof tiles can develop rot and damage significantly from built-up moisture. Challenges to a gutter’s structural integrity make it difficult for the drainage system to stay securely fastened to a home. Over time, dirty, clogged gutters may develop holes or tears where water leaks or the hardware breaks down, leading to sagging sections.
It is cheaper and more proactive to have gutters inspected and cleaned, rather than waiting until multiple, more expensive problems rear their head. The average cost for getting a home’s gutters cleaned is between $70 and $100. However, the cost to repair gutters runs between $179 and $562, depending on specific factors such as the severity of damage, length of gutters, and property height.
Why You Should Clean and Maintain Your Gutters
Ideally, it is more cost-effective and a safer bet to have gutters professionally cleaned rather than risk falling or damaging a gutter system or roof. Some homeowners are comfortable ambling up a ladder to carefully remove leaves, address gutter clogs with a plumber’s snake, and use a garden hose to clear the system out. It is crucial to take the time to clean gutters thoroughly and inspect and clear the downspout if it should have clogs and any debris so water can drain.
Homeowners living with mobility issues or people with busy schedules should look into hiring a technician to attend to gutters twice a year. A significant number of fall injuries at the emergency room are due to incorrectly extending a ladder, improper use of a ladder, or not taking safety precautions. According to the CDC, nearly 300 people perish every year due to falling off a ladder.
Keeping gutters clean and free of standing water and clogs helps protect a home from flooding, reduces the chance of damage to the driveway and landscape, and contributes to their longevity. The average home has a gutter system that is galvanized steel, aluminum, copper, or vinyl. If gutters are correctly installed and regularly maintained, they should last 15 to 25 years.
Gutters are easy to overlook as a vital feature of a home, as they divert water after rain or when snow and ice thaws. However, keeping gutters free of clogs, repairing holes, and ensuring the system is attached correctly and at the proper slope prevents problems with flooding, foundation, and roof damage. Getting a gutter system and downspout cleaned every year is an inexpensive investment that keeps a home and the surrounding landscape in top shape.
- About the Author
Alex Grigoryan is a Professional Home Improvement and Lifestyle Writer. He has been in the industry for over 6 years and has been writing for Chique Home Living since 2019. His work has been featured in prestigious blogs such as Spruce Home, Better Homes & Garden, and more.