Leaves are falling, and the days are getting shorter and colder. As a homeowner, you’ve probably already started getting your property ready for winter by raking up leaves, putting away any outdoor furniture, and ensuring your heating system is working correctly. But have you gotten the gutters on your home cleaned?
Gutter cleaning is essential to your home maintenance. Clogged gutters can potentially damage your home and pose a health and safety risk for you and your family.
Why You Need to Schedule a Fall Cleaning
It is generally recommended that you bring in a gutter cleaner or cleaning service twice a year: once in the spring and then again in the fall. The gutters on your house serve a very important purpose. They direct water from rain and snowmelt away from your home to prevent water damage. As leaves fall off trees in the autumn, they may fall into the gutters and cause them to become clogged. When winter sets in, it brings a lot of precipitation— rain and sometimes snow or sleet. Water cannot drain through clogged gutters and instead ends up collecting in your gutters and pooling on your roof. This can lead to the following:
Wood, stone, and concrete—common materials used in residential construction—are all susceptible to water damage. Prolonged exposure to standing water can cause them to rot, break down, or warp. If water cannot drain through your house’s gutters, it will seep into the foundation or pool on the roof. As the water slowly weakens your roof or foundation, it may also cause leaks that can cause more damage to the interior of your home, including peeling paint, warped woodwork, mold, and mildew. Water seeping into your foundation may even crack or weaken the concrete.
Built-up leaf matter, ice, and water also become heavy and cause the gutters to sag. Since your gutters are attached to your roof, there are two options: either the gutters tear free from the roof, or their weight starts to damage the roof. If the roof is also experiencing water damage, there is an even higher risk of permanent and expensive damage, such as your roof collapsing. Both issues are costly to repair.
The leaves clogging up your gutter will eventually start to decompose and rot. A bed of wet, rotting leaves is a perfect breeding ground for mold and other fungi. Once mold has taken root, it can be challenging to get rid of. In the best-case scenario, it will grow over your gutters. This makes the outside of your house look dirty and unattractive.
Worse, the mold may grow under your eaves and into the interior of your home. Once it’s in your home, it will release spores into the air. Not only will this cause the mold to spread, but many types of mold spores can cause health problems, especially in people with mold allergies or chronic respiratory problems. If mold starts in your attic, it may take time for you to see it, even if it is already making your family sick. Extensive mold growth is difficult and expensive to remove.
Mold isn’t the only thing that can make a home in the leaf litter of your gutter. Decomposing leaf matter is a nutrient-filled food source for many insects and insect larvae. They might decide that your gutter is the perfect place to hide out for the winter and breed. Like mold, insects, and other pests can easily use your gutters to access the rest of your home. Once inside, insects can spread disease through excrement and saliva, contaminate food, or even bite or sting family members.
A line of icicles lining your roof might look like an idyllic winter scene, but they could be a sign of a major problem. Ice dams are heavy buildups of ice along your roof line. How can clogged gutters lead to ice dams? As snow and ice on your roof melt, they should, in theory, drain into your gutters and be redirected toward the ground. If your gutters are clogged and the water can’t drain, it will freeze in the gutter the next time the temperature drops.
This isn’t good for several reasons. First, ice expands as it freezes and can burst pipes, including your gutter. Second, runoff from melting snow or ice has nowhere to go. It continues to pool on your roof and build up over time until it becomes a massive block of ice. These ice blocks can easily weigh several tons, weaken your eaves, or even collapse your roof. As the weather warms up, the ice will start to melt. Large, heavy chunks may sometimes break off the larger ice dam. These can be pretty heavy and cause damage to your property when they fall. If they land on a person, they may break bones or cause other serious injuries.
How much does it cost to clean gutters?
The cost to clean your gutters varies depending on how big your house is. Cleaners usually charge per linear foot of gutter. The type of gutter and the slope of your roof can also impact how much you are expected to pay. Usually, you can expect to pay at least $100. If your home is particularly large, it may cost up to $300.
Remember, failure to clean the gutters before winter sets in can cause massive property damage and even affect your health and safety. Repairing your roof or removing mold will cost much more than a few hundred dollars to ensure these problems don’t arise in the first place.
Still need to get your gutters cleaned before winter? Call the Bailey Boys for a professional gutter cleaning today and keep your family and property safe this winter.