The im­por­tance of clean gut­ters

The Review - - CLASSIFIEDS -

Every au­tumn, trees and shrubs take on their bril­liant dis­play of reds , or­anges, pur­ples, and yel­lows that mark the end of the grow­ing sea­son. Fall fo­liage may make for ideal photo back­drops and scenic days in the coun­try­side, but closer to home leaves may be more of a hin­drance than an aes­thetic plea­sure.

The hun­dreds of leaves that adorn the maples, oaks and other trees near homes will even­tu­ally fall as au­tumn turns into win­ter. Some will float down to lawns, while oth­ers will get lodged in gut­ters and down­spouts, pos­ing prob­lems that can cause sub­stan­tial and po­ten­tially costly prob­lems for home­own­ers.

Home­own­ers know that gut­ter clean­ing is an im­por­tant part of fall home main­te­nance, but they may not com­pletely un­der­stand why. Gut­ter clean­ing can be a messy and time-con­sum­ing pro­ject, mak­ing it a pro­ject many home­own­ers are apt to put off. Wait­ing to clean gut­ters can lead to con­sid­er­able prob­lems, so it’s best to tackle the job well in ad­vance of the win­ter.

Gut­ters guide rain­wa­ter and runoff from the roof so it drains prop­erly away from homes. When gut­ters are clogged with leaves, a num­ber of prob­lems can oc­cur.

• Leaks: Wa­ter will take the path of least re­sis­tance. When clogged gut­ters do not al­low the wa­ter to drain away prop­erly, wa­ter will find other ways to the ground. It may work it­self right into the walls and ceil­ings of the home. In ad­di­tion to dam­ag­ing walls and ceil­ings, mois­ture in­side the home 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. Gut­ters filled with leaves and other de­bris can quickly be­come heavy. This stresses the en­tire gut­ter sys­tem and can cause the gut­ters to fall off of 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. Gut­ters can quickly be­come breed­ing spots for harm­ful pests. Fur­ther­more, birds may nest in gut­ters, cre­at­ing un­sightly messes and more dam­age. 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.

Gut­ter clean­ing should be sched­uled in the spring and fall of each year. Home­own­ers can hire gut­ter-clean­ing ser­vices to han­dle the job or do the job them­selves. 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 home­own­ers many headaches and pre­vent some very ex­pen­sive re­pairs.

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