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Cleaning gutters and roofs is a dirty job, but every homeowner needs to do it at some point. Keeping your home's gutters clean and free of debris like dead leaves, nests, and other dirt is essential.

The roof is more than the tile or metal over your home. It's a complete system with different components and parts working together to ensure that your home stays dry and you stay comfortable. The roofing system includes the roof itself, sealing to prevent moisture buildup, insulation for temperature control, roof plumbing, and gutters.

Most people only know the roof rather than the other parts and components. Apart from answering the question of how often you should clean your gutters and roof, we'll also help you learn about the different parts of the roofing system. Keep reading to find out more.

The Role of Your Gutters

Gutters are designed to serve different purposes, but the most crucial is getting water away from the roof. This is important because, without the gutter system, rainwater can cause various problems, including the following:

  • Turning your roof into a mini waterfall
  • Causing flooding in areas under your roof
  • Causing water damage

The gutter is designed to catch rain and lead it away through the stormwater drains and downspouts. Your home's roof does more than just protect you from harsh elements; it also offers protection against water damage.

What Happens if You Don't Clean Your Roof and Gutters?

This might sound basic, but an unclean gutter can cause more damage than you imagined. Here are a few of the likely consequences of not cleaning your gutters and roof:

Leaky gutters and mold

Gutter cleaning is essential, especially for preventing the growth of mold. This is the first problem you'll notice if your gutter and downspouts get clogged. It causes water to collect within the gutter and ultimately start to overflow. Dead leaves and other debris accumulate, causing the water to become filthy.

Eventually, it becomes a perfect medium for the growth of mold. In regions with wet climates, mold growth can trigger different medical conditions, especially if it gets into your house. Therefore, you don't have to wait until mold starts growing before acknowledging that it's time to clean your gutters.

Cracked foundations

This is a significant problem no homeowner would like to encounter. Repairs are generally costly, but you can avoid repairs by taking preventive measures. Extending your downspouts away from your property is an excellent way to protect your foundation and prevent the development of cracks. These cracks are primarily a result of water damage or ice expansion during winter.

Leaking roofs and basements

Replacing your roof is a considerable task, even if you place it over an existing roof. A more convenient way to maximize your roofing system is to keep it protected from other external elements.

If you don't regularly clean your roof and gutter systems, you increase the chance of your roof leaking. This is because water will accumulate on the roof and soak the shingles, causing damage.

This also applies to the basement. If the downspouts are clogged or don't drain away from your home, it can allow water to leak into your basement and cause damage to items in the basement. Likewise, it can also have an effect on the structural integrity of your foundation or cause damage to circuit breakers, your furnace, or other components of your home.

Driveway and yard damage

For plants and lawns, too much water is equivalent to insufficient water. When your gutter doesn't drain properly, it can cause accumulation, killing delicate plants. A poorly draining gutter can also lead to mold growth around your driveway or even freeze it, making it slippery during winter. These are problems that require quick attention and should not be ignored.

Bugs and other critters

Gutters attract mice, birds, squirrels, insects, and other animals. Decomposing leaves are rich in different nutrients, attracting different pests, especially when accumulated in the gutter. You wouldn't want your gutters to become full of wildlife, and to avoid this, you only need to clean your gutters regularly.

How to Identify Damage from an Unclean Gutter

You'll need to visually inspect the gutter system during the fall to identify damage from an unclean gutter. Consider calling a professional if you're not sure about what to look for or you don't feel comfortable with the process.

Here are just some of the possible indicators to stay on the lookout for to help you identify damages from an unclean gutter:

  • The presence of animal life. You can identify this by looking out for bugs in your house or the sound of mice in walls or the attic. This is a likely sign that you have a clogged gutter.
  • Presence of water in places where it shouldn't be. This problem could pose more risk to the foundation of your property.
  • Gutters that aren't draining properly.
  • Presence of pools of water near your foundation, on your driveway, or on your lawn.

How Often Should You Clean Your Gutters and Roof?

The time to clean your gutters depends on different factors. However, the general recommendation is to clean your gutters at least twice yearly. This should be once in early fall/late summer and once in late spring. However, there are specific factors that can make things different.

If you have pine trees around or above your property, you'll need to clean the gutters every three months. This is due to the pine trees' potential to shed their leaves on your roof.

Also, you might need to reconsider when to clean gutters and roofs if you live in regions with high elevations. In this case, your main concern will be ice. Always ensure that you clean your roof thoroughly during the winter season, even though it can be a difficult task to handle.

How to Clean Gutters

Gutter cleaning is generally messy, but you can do it easily, especially if you know how to go about it. Fortunately, the process is not rocket science. Cleaning gutters by hand is one of the approaches most people use, but a more practical approach is high-pressure washing to clear out the clogs within the downspouts.

Here are some tips to make the gutter cleaning process more effective, safer, and easier for you:

  • Have a high-quality sealant with you so you can seal leaks when you clean your gutter.
  • Use a garbage bag or can to collect all the filth rather than leave them to litter the ground.
  • Wear protective clothing, eye protection, and gloves for your safety.
  • Don't do the job alone. Have someone around to help you and further guarantee your safety, especially when on your roof or ladder.
  • Use a solution of bleach to clean mold.

Do You Need Gutter Replacement?

This will depend on the type of gutters on your property. You might not need to get a total replacement until after 20 years, but that's only if you properly install and maintain the gutter. The material used in making the gutters is also a factor to consider.

Basically, metallic gutters are more robust and can last up to 20 years. On the other hand, vinyl and plastic gutters are cheaper, but they won't last as long as their metallic counterparts.

Seamless gutters are expensive, but they are prone to leakages. However, with gutter guards, you can stop debris from finding its way into your gutters. The takeaway here is that you must ensure that you properly install and maintain your gutters to preserve their lifespan.

For this, you may require regular inspection services from a gutter expert or roofer. The need to clean your gutters cannot be overemphasized, and you've probably been wondering, "Should I clean my gutters myself?" Hiring a professional to get the job done is generally advisable.

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