Having clogged gutters is a real pain. Not only does it mean that you’ll need to work harder to get them back into working order, but it also means that your home is at risk of being damaged. Thankfully, most of the major reasons your gutters are clogged are easily fixable if you take immediate action.
The most significant factors that cause clogged gutters are:
1. Lack of Proper Maintenance
Most gutters need to be cleaned at least one or two times per year. In some cases, they may require a third or even fourth cleaning. The proper amount of maintenance for your gutters is basically determined by where you live.
For those with lots of trees, shrubs, hedges, gardens, and flowerbeds, the amount of necessary cleaning increases. On the other hand, those who are far removed from trees and shrubs may not need to clean their gutters more than once every year. That said, unless you live in a desert, with no wind, your gutters need to be cleaned at least once per year.
Without routine maintenance of your gutter system, they will most definitely become clogged. Once clogged, the real issues begin; damaged siding, ruined insulation, compromised interior walls and ceilings, and more.
Steps to Properly Cleaning Gutters
Basic gutter cleaning is relatively simple, minus the whole climbing up and down and standing on a ladder part. All you need to get started is a pair of gloves, trash bags, and, yes, a ladder that is tall enough to reach your gutters.
It can be done in three easy steps:
- Place ladder at one end of the roof/gutter and safely climb up
- Stand one or two rungs from the top and remove debris by hand
- Climb down ladder, reposition it, and repeat the whole process
When you are finished, inspect the edge of the roof and the landscaping to make sure you didn’t leave behind any loose debris that could end up making its way back into the gutters. You may also need to break out the rake if you opted to toss the debris to the ground rather than bag it as you went.
2. Poorly Installed Gutters
Gutters that have not been installed properly are another major reason that your gutters may be clogged. Whether they are simply misaligned, lack enough downspouts, or aren’t the best type for your home, poorly installed gutters are highly likely to become clogged more often than other types. That means they are more likely to damage both the exterior and interior of your home as well.
Luckily, gutters aren’t the most complicated thing to install, but if it’s your first rodeo, they aren’t the easiest thing to install either. That is why it is highly recommended that you at least consider hiring a professional, even if you do know how to install them yourself.
When you use a professional installer, there are even more benefits than merely having someone else do the dirty work for you; you also tend to get a craftsmanship guarantee and warranty for your gutters. In addition, most professional gutter installers will not void your current roof warranty whereas, if you install them yourself, you are far more likely to void it.
Steps to Properly Installing Gutters
Depending on your roof, property, and the type of gutters you wish to install, the installation process may vary a bit, as may the tools you need to get the job done. You will also probably need at least two people to get it done. But, for the most part, how to properly install new gutters can be summed up in a few simple steps:
- Place ladders approximately as far apart as the length of the sections of gutter
- Climb up your ladder and have one end of the gutter handed up by person #2
- Person #2 climbs up their ladder, bringing the other end of the gutter up
- Place gutters down on top of your ladders while you mount brackets or hangers
- Lift gutter into place and double check that it is secure before repeating the process
Again, the exact steps will vary from type to type and manufacturer to manufacturer. None of which are very complicated. Make sure to read the instructions that come with your gutters, if you are installing them personally, and you should be just fine.
3. Having No Gutter Guards
Gutter guards are one of the most functional forms of protection that you equip your gutters with. They keep a large majority of debris out, and allow regular water flow to occur in the gutters even when it rains or snows. Without gutter guards, a gutter system is bound to form a few clogs regularly, even if it isn’t being neglected. It is just the nature of the beast, gutters get jammed.
Nobody likes it, but the truth is, gutters get filled up with leaves, twigs, and other junk, and downspouts get clogged by said debris as it is carried along by flowing water. This action quickly causes the exits and entries to the gutter system to become dammed-up. There is little to do about it other than to climb up a ladder and make sure your gutters are cleaned constantly.
One of the best ways to do this is by installing gutter guards. Then all you need to do is check in on them from time to time and brush away a few leaves here and there. Every now and then you may also need to scrape a bit of muck from where it accumulates in the bottom of the gutter; caused by broken-down leaves turning into tiny debris particles and mixing with water.
4. Not Enough Downspouts
Even if you are dealing with properly installed gutters, and are properly maintaining them, or have already installed gutter guards, you may still find yourself dealing with constant clogging due to not having enough downspouts installed on your home’s gutter system.
Without a proper number of places for rain water and melting snow to drain, the majority of loose debris gathers at the downspouts and blocks them. With blocked downspouts, water pours from all sides of the gutters when it rains. If not noticed right away, this action will no doubt lead to some sort of property damage.
The good thing is that if your gutters were installed by professionals, you more than likely have enough downspouts in place for the system to function properly. If you are thinking of installing new gutters yourself, or replacing the old ones on your home, consult a professional as to how many downspouts would be best.
A Final Word About Clogged Gutters
Simply being aware of these 4 major reasons your gutters are clogged will not only help you to remedy the situation before significant damage to your home occurs, but it will also help you to avoid the issue from recurring.
The main takeaway here is this: If you want to avoid clogged gutters, it will cost you time, money or both. Installing gutter guards and performing routine maintenance on them every six months to a year are the best steps to take in order to avoid clogged gutters in the future.
You never know what sort of debris your gutters might collect.