How to know if it’s time to clean or repair your gutters

A gutter system acts as traffic control for rainwater. Since we live in the Pacific Northwest, we see our fair share of rain, which means that our gutters are working overtime to ensure rain gets funneled properly. When homeowners neglect their gutters, they may find themselves with gutters clogged with leaves and debris. This leads to gutters with water build-up or gutters that house critters. Here are the seven signs that will tell you if your gutters need to be cleaned or repaired.

1. Rainwater is overflowing from the gutters

The purpose of a gutter system is to drain rainwater from the roof and funnel it away from the house. This is to help protect the underlayment of your roof and your home’s siding from excess moisture that could lead to wood rot. However, when your gutters are clogged with leaves and debris, they lose their ability to properly control the flow of rainwater. The result of this is water build-up in the gutters that overflow onto the home’s siding rather than getting funneled and drained away from the home.

2. Gutter is sagging

Clogs are one of the most common gutter problems. When leaves and debris accumulate in your gutters, they leave water nowhere to flow. Not only can water build-up make rainwater overflow in your gutter, but it can also damage your gutters. The weight of soggy leaves, debris, and water build-up causes additional stress on your gutters because gutters aren’t built to hold that extra weight.

Here’s why: one gallon of water weighs around eight pounds. In the Pacific Northwest, we sometimes see rain that lasts for several days, or even weeks on end. With the consistent rain, several gallons of water can potentially accumulate in your gutters, making them sag—or even worse, your gutters could start falling off.

3. Staining along your siding

Have you noticed streaks or stains along your home’s siding? That could be a sign that your gutters need to be cleaned. As mentioned above, leaves and debris prevent water from funneling properly through your gutter, resulting in water build-up that overflows during the rain. When water continues to build up in your gutter, but has nowhere to flow, it starts to spill over and down your home’s siding.

4. Standing water near your home’s foundation

Are there pools of standing water near your home’s foundation? The last thing any homeowner would ever want to experience is a damaged foundation. The foundation is the base that anchors your home to the ground while also preventing moisture from getting in. Believe it or not, a clogged or damaged gutter system can actually cause damage to your home’s foundation.

A properly working gutter system funnels water away from your home, but when your gutters are clogged, they lose the ability to do so. Instead, the water will flow over the sides of your gutters and can potentially fall directly below the roof eaves. A small amount of water won’t do any damage to your foundation, but an excess amount will.

Here’s how the standing water can damage your home’s foundation. When an overwhelming amount of water penetrates the ground, the soil expands. That expansion then puts extra pressure on the walls of the foundation, which can be especially dangerous during the winter months when the foundation gets wet then freezes. This frost-and-defrost action can cause cracks in your foundation.

5. Critters are crawling into your gutters

It’s inevitable for gutters to house bugs occasionally. The real problem comes when you start seeing rodents such as squirrels or mice making a home in your gutters.

Why would rodents be attracted to gutters? It turns out that the compressed leaves and debris make for a comfortable and cozy home that protects small critters from larger predators. If you start seeing critters calling your gutters home then it’s a telltale sign that your gutters need to be cleaned.

6. Birds are flocking to your gutters

It’s not only critters that you need to keep an eye out for: clogged gutters also attract birds because there’s a ready supply of nesting materials. Birds use leaves and small branches to build their nests, and that debris can easily be found in clogged gutters. Keeping a clogged gutter is essentially keeping a supply closet for birds to come back to when they’re building their nests.

If you start seeing birds flock to your gutters, you may want to check to see if your gutters are housing an excess amount of leaves and debris. In the case that it is, it’s time to get your gutters cleaned out.

7. Plants are growing in your gutters

Are your gutters turning into a garden? If so, then that could mean there’s an excess amount of dirt that needs to be cleaned out. Where does the dirt come from? Dirt gets carried by the wind and ends up landing on roof tops. If there’s rain, that dirt then gets washed down from your roof and into your gutters. If enough dirt accumulates in your gutter then it creates a layer of soil that becomes an ideal home for the seeds that get blown into the gutter. A gutter’s concave shape is also ideal for retaining moisture, so this creates the perfect recipe for sprouting plants.

Having a clean and well-maintained gutter system can help prevent extensive damage to your home. The most common problem that gutters face are clogs from leaves and debris that get washed in. When the leaves and debris clog up gutters, this is where trouble starts happening. If you start noticing rainwater is flowing like a waterfall over your gutters, that your gutters are sagging, or plants and animals are making a home in your gutters then it’s time to get them cleaned and repaired before you face extensive damage such as wood rot or a cracked foundation.

Have you seen any of these tell-tale signs that your gutter needs to be cleaned or repaired? Whether you’re in Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, Snohomish, Olympia, or surrounding areas, give us a call at (360) 794-7164 or fill out our contact form.

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