Learn everything you need to know about gutter repair and maintenance in this article from Same Day Pros. We’ve teamed up with gutter specialists to bring you the most informative and accurate gutter maintenance tips from around the internet.
No matter where you live, chances are, you have a gutter system to help protect your home’s foundation. That means that with the long list of other house repairs that are necessary for proper upkeep, your home’s gutter system will need some attention on the regular as well to prevent you from needing excessive repairs.
How Do I Maintain My Gutters?
Gutter maintenance can feel overwhelming when you first step outside and look up at the sections of metal lining your rooftop.
Fortunately, maintenance is a relatively simple process, and there are plenty of professionals near you that specialize in everything from gutter repair to maintenance, and even installation, whenever you need is most.
Maintaining your gutters is as simple as checking for damage after strong storms and periodically cleaning out any leaf litter or debris that makes its way into the sections or downspouts.
These simple actions can prevent thousands of dollars of unnecessary gutter repair, or other home damages like cracked foundations and eroding dirt around the perimeter of the home.
Do Gutter Guards Require Maintenance?
Gutter guards are pieces of perforated metal that allow rainwater to enter into the gutter system but prevent larger debris like leaves and acorns from entering the system. This system also helps discourage rodents and other pests from entering the gutters.
A lot of gutter guards advertise themselves as being maintenance free, but there is no such thing as a ‘maintenance free’ gutter guard, as they should still be periodically checked to prevent buildup of leaf litter and debris in the gutter.
Gutter guards still require periodic maintenance to hose off any standing debris over the top of the gutter guard and no damages to the outside. The interior of the gutter system should still be checked to ensure that there are no hidden clogs or problems that could have escaped into the gutter interior, hidden from view.
How Often Should You Maintain Your Gutters?
While gutter maintenance might not be the most intensive work you’ll do as a homeowner, it’s still important to avoid costly repairs in the future.
Most gutter specialists recommend maintaining your gutters at least twice a year, during the spring time after any snow has melted, and after most of the foliage has dropped after fall.
If you have foliage that drops year-round, such as pine, you will need to clean your gutters more often as these needles can easily clog a gutter system. Gutter specialists recommend that houses with a lot of foliage over the home, or with an abundance of pine trees, should generally seek to perform gutter maintenance every three months to prevent clogs.
What Will a Gutter Repair Professional Look For?
When a gutter repair professional comes to your home, they can’t see what all has happened to the gutter system in the past to tell them whether it needs maintenance or repairs of any kind. (1)
For specialists who are seeing your home’s gutter system for the first time, they have to rely on signs from in and around the gutters to tell them the truth.
As small as your home’s gutters may be in respect to the rest of the home, it is an important home design feature that serves an important function. No matter the type of gutters you have, maintenance is crucial.
There are plenty of ways a professional can tell whether the gutter system is healthy or if it needs repair:
Rust in the Gutters
Rust in the gutters often means that the system is old enough to be replaced, or that there has previously been enough standing water to corrode the interior, which can lead to breaking or other problems that will require immediate repair later.
Gutter rust only occurs in cheaper systems made of metal. Gutters that have been galvanized or rust-protected are typically resistant to rust, but it doesn’t always guarantee prevention of it. If the rust is minimal and only along the surface, it may be able to be brushed out with a wire brush. Pitted metal or rust that runs deeper into the metal will require the system is replaced.
Clogs and Leaf Litter
Clogs are one of the most common signs of poor gutter maintenance, either from haphazard cleaning, or from a lack of cleaning at all.
The presence of a clog or an abundance of leaf litter in the gutter tells a specialist that they need to look for other signs of damage to assess the extent of the problem, as there is usually damage to other parts of the house if the problem has persisted for a few seasons or more. Nesting animals may also become more of an issue if leaf litter is left to sit in the gutter.
Rodents and Other Pests
Rats, wasps, mosquitos, birds, and other pests like to nest in gutters if it does not receive regular maintenance. Leaf litter, windbreaking walls, and standing water are attractive resources that can provide shelter, warmth, nesting material and security to a wild animal that unwittingly finds itself a tenant of your home.
It is best to remove these critters humanely as soon as you see them, as nests and food stores can easily clog your gutter and cause additional damages.
Holes or Gaps in the Gutters
Holes and gaps in the gutters can be the result of temperature fluctuations pulling apart gutter sections, animals that have chewed through the seams of the gutter system, or debris that has punctured the gutter. Gaps may also be present between the gutter and the roofline, which may indicate a bracket coming loose. These problems should be addressed as they compromise the efficacy of the gutters and pose a hazard to your home’s foundation.
Bowing or Leaking
A bowing gutter means that it has sustained too much weight for what it can hold, whether it gives out due to a structural problem, age, or for another reason. This is most common if the gutter has not had regular maintenance performed on it, or if a snow load or exceptionally heavy rains exert too much weight on the system all at once.
Depending on where the leak was found, it can be the result of different problems. Leaking gutters means that there is standing or pooling water that has collected around a loose seam, or that the brackets against the house have been pulled lose, exposing a gap between the roofline and the gutter.
These issues should be addressed immediately to prevent further damage to the gutter system and home.
Detached or Missing Downspouts
In gutters that have been especially neglected, it is not uncommon to see downspouts that are detached or even missing. Sometimes, homeowners will do this on purpose as an unfinished DIY project, or to remove the rain from reaching a specific location. What this does, however, is contribute to erosion below the exit, where excess water pours out.
Damaged Gutter Guards
Even “maintenance free” gutter guards should receive some type of maintenance throughout the year. A damaged gutter guard should be replaced immediately so that it does not allow debris into the gutter, and that rain collects within the gutter evenly.
Gutter Maintenance by Season
For many homes, gutter maintenance is a seasonal project that requires care and attention, especially if there are a lot of pine trees near the home, or pests that settle in nearby woodlots. Different regions will require different maintenance steps.
For example, homes that typically receive heavy snowfall may need to ensure their gutters are ready for the winter season, while homes that see little to no snowfall may only need to treat the winter like an extended fall season.
For many animals and insects, spring means the arrival of freshly thawed ground, warmer temperatures, and more sunlight. This means it is the perfect time to begin nesting or coming out of hibernation to seek out food stores.
Gutters should be cleaned to remove any debris that has collected within the downspout or roof sections, either by being carried on the wind or brought in by an animal. The gutters should also receive a full inspection to ensure that there is no damage caused by high winds or heavy storms over the winter season.
While summer temperatures can be brutal, gutters don’t always need maintenance during these hot days.
Still, gutters may benefit from a casual inspection to ensure that all the brackets, bolts, and screws are in place, and that the downspout is clear to ensure that the gutter system is ready for heavy rains brought by the incoming season change.
With fall weather brings cooler temperatures and lots of leaves. This is the main season where gutter maintenance becomes an important, even critical aspect of home maintenance and repair.
After seasonal rains brought on by the change in weather, the gutters will need a thorough inspection to ensure that nothing was damaged. If so, prompt gutter repair will keep your home from seeing any further damages. Gutter cleaning should be performed once most of the leaves have fallen.
For many homes, winter brings seasonal snowfall. For others, winter only brings a few more weeks of cold temperatures. If your home is in an area that receives snowfall, it is important to ensure that the gutter is inspected at least once during the season so that any necessary repairs can be made.
Colder weather can bring about cracked plastic or dislodged brackets. In some cases, gutter guards may need to come down before snowfall to remove additional weight.
What Happens if You Don’t Clean Your Gutters?
We’ve all been there; it’s fall, and you’ve just finished raking the leaves, and you’re ready to put your feet up for the winter, leaving the house repairs for the winter. (2) But, there’s one more chore that should be done before you can sit by the fireplace comfortably: gutter cleaning.
Cleaning your gutters is a MUST. If you don’t clean them out, the results could be catastrophic. Siding, foundation and ceilings can start deteriorating and hurt the rest of your home.
Gutter cleaning is an important part of home repair that should never be neglected. Over years, gutter repair problems can stack up, and lead to the deterioration of the home. The signs are easy to overlook and subtle, but this small chore can save you thousands in home and gutter repairs.
What is the Best Time to Clean Gutters?
The two best times to clean your gutters throughout the year is spring and fall.
The idea behind these two seasons is that once the plants begin growing, the ground has thawed enough from winter, and temperatures are comfortable, which makes it an ideal time to clean out any clogs or nests that may have appeared in your gutter over the colder months.
Fall gutter cleaning should be done after most of the leaves have fallen to the ground, as many are bound to end up in your gutter.
Cleaning the gutters and downspouts out before any winter frosts or colder temperatures set in is a good way to discourage pests from moving into the leaf litter, and makes it easier to maintain the gutters so there is no standing water or leaves waiting for you in the spring.
How Else Can I Prevent Gutter Clogs?
There are plenty of other ways to prevent gutter clogs than just cleaning out the downspouts and gutter sections twice a year. If your home is in an area with a lot of trees, or has had problems with gutter pests in the past, you may consider installing a gutter guard, and trimming any trees from above the home.
These prevention steps won’t remove the need for maintenance, but your gutters will be easier to clean with fewer clogs.
Don’t Go DIY – Hire a Gutter Repair Professional
Whenever there’s a problem with your gutter, it’s best to hire a professional rather than pursue a DIY solution.
A lot of gutter systems have warranties attached to them when they are relatively new and trying to perform a DIY repair can void this warranty, preventing you from claiming any manufacturing-related faults or taking advantage of other warranty benefits.
Say No to DIY: Safety First
The main reason why you should avoid going DIY when it comes to gutter repairs is that it can be incredibly dangerous to work on gutters if you are inexperienced or alone, as these repairs may need to be done at awkward angles or with special tools. Furthermore, it can be difficult to work with a heavy gutter section over your head without this equipment, especially when you are on a ladder.
It is best to let the professionals take care of the job, as their experience and comfortability with working on gutters will save you potential for a costly accident.
Searching for Gutter Repair Is Easy
Need help finding a gutter repair specialist? With Same Day Pros, it’s not difficult. Our team has surveyed the country for the best gutter repair professionals around.
It’s no secret that gutter repairs are a time-sensitive project. With changing seasons, heavy storms can occur, and it is best to repair gutters quickly to minimize any potential damage to the home’s exterior and foundations.
At the click of a button, you can search for gutter repair specialists who are not only nearby, but also ready to take on your project. Easily compare quotes and find information for your new favorite gutter repair pros today.
- Forbes, 5 Tips to Maintain Gutters and Avoid Overflowing, https://www.forbes.com/advisor/home-improvement/tips-keep-gutters-clean/
- Huffpost.com, How to Winterize Your Home in 5 Easy Steps and Why You Should, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-to-winterize-your-hom_b_6029030