Gutter neglect can lead to bigger troubles

METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION Clean gutters can stave off costly home repairs later.

The fallen leaves of winter are more of a hindrance than an aesthetic pleasure.


Especially when they end up lodged in gutters and downspouts, posing problems that can cause substantial and potentially costly problems for homeowners.

Homeowners know gutter cleaning is an important part of home maintenance, but they may not completely understand why. The messy and time-consuming project is easy to put off, but waiting too long can lead to considerable problems, so it’s best to tackle the job sooner rather than later.

Gutters guide rainwater and runoff from the roof so it drains properly away from homes. When that doesn’t happen, the following problems that can occur:

Leaks: Water takes the path of least resistance. When gutters clog, water will find other ways to the ground, possibly through the walls and ceilings of the home. This moisture can promote mold growth. It also makes interior spaces more appealing to pests.

Excess weight: Gutters are meant to hold the weight of traveling water and not much more. Those filled with leaves and other debris can quickly become heavy and detach from the home entirely.

Nesting areas: Clogged gutters can serve as nesting areas for insects and birds. Mosquitoes and other insects lay eggs in pooling water. Seeds that sprout in clogged gutters can grow unchecked.

Ice-damming: Left untreated, pooled water and leaves in gutters can freeze over. Blocked water can back up and push against the roof, lifting shingles and destroying the roof in the process.

Foundation trouble: Clogged gutters also may contribute to flooded basements and cracked foundations. Leaking water will pool around the foundation, expanding when frozen and causing cracks in basement and crawlspace walls. It also can cause driveways and other cement areas around the home to sag and crack.

You can clean your own gutters or hire someone to do the job. Rinse the gutters with water from the hose afterward to ensure good run-off. Take the time to seal any leaks as well. This routine maintenance can save you many headaches and prevent some very expensive repairs.