The Importance of Gutter Maintenance (& What It Entails)

Gutter cleaning dead leaves

Gutter maintenance: what do the experts recommend? For best results, our experts recommend quarterly cleaning. However, many homeowners opt for semi-annual cleanings instead. Because, let’s be completely honest – it’s gross and time-consuming.

Ignoring the gunk accumulating in your gutters might seem like a good idea at the time. However, it can cause issues that’ll result in more headaches than the maintenance itself.

If you suspect you will only clean your gutter system twice (or less) a year, consider investing in gutter guards to reduce the chances of constantly clogged gutters.

In this post, we’ll cover the different aspects of gutter maintenance. We’ll also go over a few things to look out for to ensure your gutter system is functioning smoothly.

Gutter Maintenance Inside the Gutters

Clogged gutters along valley

The purpose of a gutter system is to direct rainwater away from a home. Ideally, this means the gutter system has nothing inside of it to hinder the water flow. In other cases, the combination of debris (leaves, twigs, bird droppings) and sunlight is a recipe for turning your gutters into giant planters.

In cases where the debris buildup remains, plants of all sizes can take root and grow inside of your gutters. Curb appeal aside, this can be detrimental to your gutter system.

Why? Because it severely hinders water flow. Pooling water creates a breeding ground for bacteria. On top of that, the stagnant water can drip behind your gutters. As a result, the water will damage the fascia and the overall integrity of your roofing system.

In order to reduce the chances of these gutter gardens, consider regular gutter maintenance at least twice a year.

Maintenance Outside the Gutters

Professional ‘Gutter Cleaning’ generally refers to the removal of debris build-up inside the gutter troughs. However, you can also clean the outside of a gutter system.

Being outside, gutters are bound to attract dirt over time. Luckily, aluminum seamless gutters are already resistant to rust and corrosion. Furthermore, they are one of the easiest varieties to clean. This is due to the fact that there are significantly fewer crevices for dirt to cling to.

Almost any mild dish soap coupled with a non-abrasive sponge or brush should do the trick. For particularly stubborn stains, try diluting a little bleach with water and gently scrubbing. However tough a stain, be sure to use only non-abrasive materials. Otherwise, you could scratch your gutters.

Gutter Maintenance Indicators


overflowing gutters in rain

Is water spilling over end-caps? Is it seeping behind gutters and fascia? Or is it possibly dripping all along the gutter? In short, are your gutters overflowing?

Without a doubt, you need some serious gutter maintenance.

Maybe your gutters just have too much debris and need cleaning. In other cases, overflow could signify the roof runoff is too great for the gutter system to manage. As a result, you might need to invest in a larger gutter system that will hold more water. See our post on Why 6″ Gutters for more information on choosing a larger gutter system. Also, check out our diagnostic guide for overflowing gutters.

Improper Pitch

Example of a gutter that improperly pitched

If your gutters are always clogged, it’ll be hard to notice other potential issues. With this in mind, if you do notice sitting water that is not the result of debris accumulation, your gutters may have an improper pitch.

While gutters always appear parallel to the roof, they actually have a slight slope. Gutter slope calculations depend on the length of the gutter section. For example, a longer gutter section should have a higher pitch than a shorter section. Furthermore, sections with two downspouts should slope in opposite directions with the middle being the highest point. This angling causes water to flow in the direction of the downspout rather than pooling. 

The black drip-marks coming from the gutters in the image above are a clue of their improper pitch. These marks suggest sitting water wasn’t draining but overflowing. An improperly pitched gutter system can lead to stagnant water.

During the winter, water could freeze in temperatures below 32°. As a solid, the ice expands. Expansion can lead to cracks. In other instances, the added weight of the ice might pull the gutters away from the fascia.

If you suspect your gutters are improperly pitched, you can check! Using a level, measure the difference in height between your end caps and downspout. You can also contact us for a free gutter inspection!

Need more information on gutter cleaning? See our earlier posts for Cleaning Tips and Cost Consideration.