Remember to Clean Out Those Eavestroughs Before Winter
Cleaning eavestroughs is a home-maintenance chore that can be easily overlooked. With the cold weather on the way, it’s a good time to do a checkup and perform any gutter maintenance before another Canadian winter makes the task more difficult. You’ll want to ensure that your eavestroughs can handle all of that winter precipitation!
Why Is Cleaning Your Eavestroughs So Important?
Your home’s gutter system helps protect your house from flooding and water damage by diverting water away from the foundation of your house. Debris buildup can create cracks in your eavestroughs, resulting in leaks that can damage your home in a number of ways, including:
- basement, foundation, and structural damage
- mould and mildew growth
- water rotting the fascia boards behind the gutters and
- water from leaky gutters freezing in the winter and cracking your home’s foundation.
The resulting damage from neglected eavestroughs can quickly become costly. Whether you’re paying for the damage yourself or making an insurance claim on the damage, it’s something that can be avoided with regular maintenance.
When’s the Best Time to Clean My Eavestroughs?
Each house’s gutter system is unique. The time of year and frequency of eavestrough cleanings your home will need will vary from once a year to four or more times a year depending on where you live. If your house is in a rural area, or if it’s surrounded by large trees, your eavestroughs will probably need to be cleaned more times than if your home is in an urban area. Trees surrounding the home make all the difference.
A general rule is to clean your eavestroughs at least twice a year, in the spring and autumn. If most of the buildup is leaves, then it’s best to clean them out closer to the end of autumn, after all the leaves have fallen.
It might even be necessary to clean your gutter system multiple times during the fall, depending on how many trees surround your property.
Signs That Your Eavestroughs Are Due for a Cleaning
The following signs are clear indicators that your eavestroughs need maintenance:
Plants and animals are making your eavestroughs their home.
If your gutters are starting to look more like a nest or window planters, then it’s time to clean them out and get the wildlife to relocate to a more appropriate location.
Your eavestroughs are overflowing.
Water cascading over the side of your gutters during or after a rainstorm is a serious warning sign: your basement is at risk of flooding. Water isn’t flowing through the gutter system and away from your home properly, so your eavestroughs need to be cleared as soon as possible.
Water damage stains appear on your home’s siding.
These stains are evidence that water has been overflowing from your eavestroughs and spilling down the sides of your house instead of being safely diverted by the gutter system.
You can’t remember the last time you cleaned your eavestroughs.
Not being able to remember when gutter maintenance was last completed is a good sign that it’s time to at least check on the condition of your eavestroughs. Aim to have your gutters cleaned every season or at least every six months.
Don’t forget to check your downspouts.
Problems with your downspouts might not be as easily recognizable as problems with your horizontal gutters, so make sure to regularly check that they’re clear and allowing water to flow away from your home’s foundation.
How Much Time and Money Will I Need to Invest in Eavestrough Maintenance?
The answer to this question also depends on the specific needs of your home and the current condition of your gutter system. All costs considered, avoiding damage to your home’s structure with proper gutter maintenance should save you money in the long run. Of course, cleaning your gutters yourself will be the least expensive option, but it’s a good idea to turn to an expert if you’re not comfortable with the challenges and safety hazards of the job or if you need more extensive eavestrough repairs.
If you decide to go the DIY route, you’ll need:
- a sturdy ladder that’s the right height
- basic safety equipment, such as protective gloves
- footwear and
- a secured bucket and gutter scoop (to collect the debris).
It’s also smart safety practice to have a spotter steady your ladder whenever you climb up or down. And never attach your ladder to your eavestroughs — they’re not designed to hold people and equipment. This dangerous manouevre could cause you to lose balance on the ladder and damage the eavestroughs at the same time.
Providing that your gutters are in good shape, the DIY method should only cost a trip to your local hardware store and a couple hours every spring and autumn.
Professional gutter cleaning services will range in price depending on the size of your home and the resulting length of your gutter system. Of course, additional structural and cosmetic maintenance will cost extra.
Installing Gutter Guards or Screens
These protective systems can help keep debris out of your gutters while allowing water to filter through, which makes cleaning and maintenance less of a hassle. However, don’t forget that guards and screens still require regular cleaning in order to perform effectively—they prevent leaves and debris from going down pipes, but they can still become covered by leaves and dirt.
Eavestrough protection systems can vary greatly in price and ease of installation. Angie’sList.com estimates the average cost of professional gutter guard installation at $1,500.1 Gutter guard products can range in price from a few dollars a foot to over $30 a foot.
Staying on top of your home’s gutter maintenance is a simple way to protect your home from environmental damage and flooding. Even if you have flood insurance, you’ll want to take as many measures as possible to avoid the stress of repairing water damage to your home’s foundation. Remember to mark some time on your calendar in the spring and especially near the end of fall (before it gets too cold) to clean out your eavestroughs or set up a regular cleaning schedule with a trusted eavestrough cleaning service.
Incorporating gutter maintenance into your regular spring and fall cleaning routines doesn’t have to take too much effort, and you’ll be rewarded with a home that’s even more prepared to stand up to another Canadian winter.
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1 Angie’s List. “Gutter cleaning.” Retrieved July 31, 2019, from https://www.angieslist.com/research/gutter-cleaning/.