For best results, our technicians recommend quarterly cleaning, once each season. However, many homeowners opt for semi-annual cleaning instead, because let’s be completely honest – it’s gross, it’s a hassle and it’s time consuming. Ignoring the gunk accumulating in your gutters may seem like a good idea at the time, but can result in more headache for homeowners 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.
Inside a gutter system
The purpose of a gutter system is to direct rain water away from a home. Ideally, this means the gutter system has nothing inside of it to hinder the water-flow. An accumulation of debris such as leaves and twigs coupled with bird droppings and sunlight are a recipe for turning your gutters into giant planters.
In cases where the debris buildup remains undisturbed, plants of all sizes can take root and grow inside of your gutters. Curb appeal aside, this can be detrimental to your gutter system as it severely hinders water-flow. Pooling water can result in a breeding ground for bacteria and the stagnant water can also drip behind your gutters causing damage to 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, but ideally quarterly cleaning will reduce the chances of severe gutter buildup.
Outside a gutter system
While ‘Gutter Cleaning’ generally refers to the removal of debris build-up inside the gutter troughs, it is possible to 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 and are one of the easiest varieties to clean as 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 as they may scratch your gutters.
What your gutters are telling you
Water spilling over end-caps or seeping behind gutters and fascia and dripping all along the gutter line signal an immediate need for gutter maintenance. Overflowing gutters could be the cause of debris build-up and simply be in need of a traditional gutter cleaning. However, overflow could also signify the roof runoff is too great for the gutter system to manage, and it might be time to consider a larger gutter system. See our post on Why 6″ Gutters for more information on choosing a larger gutter system.
A constant build-up of debris in your gutters makes it difficult to notice underlying issues. If you notice sitting water that is not the result of debris accumulation, your gutters may have an improper pitch.
While gutters appear parallel to the roof, they are meant to slightly 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 and sections with two downspouts should slope in opposite directions. This angling causes water to properly flow in the direction of the downspout rather than pooling in place.
The black drip-marks coming from these gutters is a clue of their improper pitch. These marks suggest sitting water was not draining but was overflowing. An improperly pitched gutter system can lead to stagnant water which may then freeze in weather below 32°. As a solid, the ice expands. Expansion can lead to cracks, or the added weight may 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, or ask your local gutter expert.