Do My Gutters Need Cleaning?

Most of the time, gutters don’t really register in our minds as something that’s particularly important. They’re just there. They sit on the edges of our roofs and funnel water down to the drain pipes. Seems like pretty basic stuff most of the time and we can be lulled into a sense of complacency; water falls on the roof, flows into the gutters and runs off down our drainpipe to the drainage system underground.

But when gutters get blocked by stuff like vegetation and dirt, mud and water that whole system can break down. Roofs and gutters are designed to keep funnel water as quickly as possible away from the property, so when something happens to stop that process, problems occur. Water is corrosive, and so standing water can root the roof and cause major and expensive problems to your house.

So how do we know whether our gutters are blocked by gunk and debris and needs to be cleaned? Here are some simple ways:

Are your gutters overflowing?

This isn’t a failsafe system, because in a major downpour your gutters will fill up naturally with water and overflow the side, so take more notice of this during a normal rain event. If the rain isn’t teeming down, yet the gutters are still overflowing and the waters are sloshing over the sides, there may be something causing the water to accumulate.

Are your gutters sagging away from your roof?

Sometimes we don’t realize how heavy water is, and when vegetation and dirt is water laden, they too become very heavy. Gutters aren’t designed to carry much weight for long periods of time. They are designed to move water onwards, but when the water remains, either as standing pools or as water saturated vegetation or mud, this can cause the gutters to buckle and begin to separate from the roof.

Are there puddles at your foundation?

If your gutters are overflowing, that water has to go somewhere, and it isn’t going where it is supposed to go. Instead, it might be flowing down your walls and pooling at the foundations of your house. This can cause serious problems, as the water can erode the soil and ground away the foundations, leaving them open to the environment. Also, the eroding ground might shift, causing cracks to form in your foundations. Noticing water pooling at your foundations before it can cause the ground to erode might save you a lot of money on foundation repairs.

Are there plants forming in your gutters?

As anyone who went through school knows, plants need sun, water and soil to grow. Therefore, if you notice plants growing in your gutters, there must be sun, water and soil available to it. Obviously, the sun isn’t the issue here; it’s the water and soil, which as we’ve already stated, is not something you want in your gutters due to the added weight and strain in causes on your gutter.

Are birds, rodents and insects visiting your gutters more than you’d expect?

If your gutters are blocked by vegetation, soil and water, not only might plants form in that concoction, animals, birds and insects might be attracted to it as well. Little animals like rodents see the mix of warm vegetation in a confined spot as a safe place from predators; birds see the vegetation and twigs as a great place for nesting material, and insects like mosquitos are attracted to standing water. If you see these creatures regularly around your gutters, there might be something you need to check on.

All it takes is a little time and experience working at heights to clean your gutters. Unless you really know what you are doing, you should have professional gutter cleaners like those from gutter cleaning Omaha, come in and clean your gutters for you.

The perils of doing gutter cleaning yourself

Yes, there are perils connected with your gutters. That is, the gutters that surround your house and collect the water when it rains on your roof. Perils (Oxford dictionary: “Serious and immediate danger”) for a person who is not as handy as they might think they are. If your gutters overflow even when rainfall is light, that tells you that there is serious clogging in your gutters. (Clogging: “to hinder or obstruct with thick or sticky matter; choke up”; not the official state dance of Kentucky and North Carolina.)

You might want to get out your ladder and climb up to see what’s up. But if you want to clean your gutters yourself, it might not be as easy as you think.

Instead, think about this.

It might be a good idea to get a professional to do the job for you, especially if you live in a two-storey house. Someone who is daily doing the job, is confident at the top of a ladder, has all the necessary equipment, and knows precisely what needs to be done. Is it worth saving a couple of bucks, just to find yourself at the bottom of the ladder with a broken leg?

Assess your gutters

Preferably you should do this from the ground. If it’s been a while, they might be blocked with vegetation, debris, dirt, feathers, and who knows what, which collect the rain water and will weigh the gutters down, preventing the water from getting away. This may cause them to sag, and if there are any signs of the gutter coming away from the house, you’re in trouble. If your gutters are deformed, damaged or unstable, it’s best that you don’t go up there and attack the problem. Leave it to the pro. He (or she) would have the correct equipment. He (or she) would know exactly how to handle said equipment while climbing a ladder, especially if the gutters are 10 metres above ground. He (or she) is ready for whatever they find up there, since he (or she) has been doing this for a long time.

Gutter stuff

What a mess there could be. And you might have some freeloaders up there which enjoy the mess that has been accumulated. Even snakes, possums, nesting birds … think about the possibilities. PPE (we all know now what these initials stand for) is vital in so many occupations, and this is no exception. I reckon you must be prepared to get your local gutter cleaning expert on the job. Even if your wife thinks you are able to do this on your own, this is the time to overrule her in the strongest way, and insist that the best thing to do is sit back on the porch with a coldie and watch while someone else does the hard work.