5 Signs It's Time for Gutter Cleaning

Gutters full of leaves and debris waiting to be removed by gutter cleaning.

From leaky roofs to cracking foundations, there are plenty of reasons to worry about your home. But your gutters should never be one of them. With regular cleaning, you can make sure you'll have one less thing to worry about, but what if you have questions first?

For instance, how often should you get cleaning done? What happens if you don't get service at the first sign of trouble? What are all the sources of debris in Greater Columbia and Eldersburg? Will that grime cause damage if it isn’t cleaned quickly?

Service at the first sign of trouble keeps clogs from creating costly damage down the road. Luckily, you don't need to be an expert to know the signs they need attention. The team of home repair experts at Mr. Handyman of Greater Columbia and Eldersburg will cover all common questions and more as we break down when and why you should keep up with regular gutter cleaning.

1. Visible Debris

The most obvious sign of full blockage is visible debris. If you can see leaves or twigs hanging out from the top, it's definitely time for a cleaning. In fact, that debris can be a sign of a larger problem too. In many cases, if you can see visible debris, you should get cleaning service as soon as possible. This is because visible debris generally means that your gutters are clogged, which causes serious problems. Even if you only see debris in one section, there is still likely debris clogging the entire system. Any visible debris is a sign that it's time for cleaning.

If you notice debris, It's important to get cleaning before the next rainfall, because your system might be near its maximum capacity. If you wait too long, you could be facing flooding — or total collapse.

2. Strange Flora and Fauna

Birds, insects, or other small critters are not a great sign. If you see bugs or birds around your gutters, it's time for a cleaning. Animals and pests will go searching for food and hiding places. One of the best sources is dirty gutters. Birds, squirrels, insects and even cats scavenge for food wherever they can find it. Keep an eye, and an ear, out for any strange signs of animals, including strange scampering. In order to keep both the outside and inside of your house hygienic, get your gutters cleaned at the first sign of animal activity.

New plant or moss growth around that area could be another sign of something serious. Plants need nutritious soil to grow, and dirty backups are the perfect place to find some. Any sign of new or unusual plants should be taken as a call for help from your home.

3. Overflow or Leaks

This could be one of the first signs of a clogged or dirty system. Many gutters are made up of a series of joints. Water coming from those joints could be a sign of blockage. During light rainfalls or in times with thawing snow, make sure there is no overflow coming from over the sides as well. Any water flowing out of places it shouldn't is a bad sign. That overflow often leads to siding repair issues like bulging boards and stains.

After heavy rainfalls or storms, have a walk around your house to inspect your system. This should only take a few minutes. If you see unusual water leaks, it's time for a cleaning. It's important to check the entire system for leaks or overflow, but joints are the weakest areas, so they need special attention.

4. Structural Problems

Structural issues are just one of the common gutter problems that indicate an issue. Structural problems include misshapen gutters, loose joints, or even swelling. When systems are clogged, water will still try to push through the system. This could lead to warping or swelling and permanent damage. In extreme cases, loose joints or swollen troughs separate gutters from houses. This could be a costly problem, so it's important to schedule service as soon as you notice any structural differences.

Occasionally, clogged gutters also lead to structural damage inside your home. Wet stains on walls or ceilings are common signs. If you see any wet stains, the problem could be fixed with professional service.

5. You Can't Remember the Last Time You Had a Gutter Cleaning

Oftentimes, gutter cleaning is overlooked as you become distracted with bigger home upkeep issues, but that regular maintenance should be a part of your home maintenance routine. It's especially important to take care of cleaning service as the seasons begin to change. Falling leaves, blooming pollen, and changing weather all lead to problems. Seasonal service is a perfect strategy for fighting off long-term damage caused by material buildup.

Keeping your gutters clean and clear could keep you from having to deal with bigger home damage down the road. If you don’t remember the last time you gave them attention, then now is a great time.

Why Get Regular Cleanings?

You might think gutter cleaning is a minor issue. In some cases it is, but when clogs and other problems are left for too long, the effects are devastating. The damage done by clogs could be costly, time-consuming, and in a lot of cases, flat-out disgusting.

Aside from just leaky gutters or extra bugs around the house, some damage could be a much larger structural issue. From your foundation to your roof, there are a lot of reasons to clear out clogs, such as siding damage, fascia repair problems, and other exterior trim issues.

  1. Insect Infestations

As we've mentioned before, pests love a dirty gutter. In addition to nutritious debris, clogs also store moisture, and plenty of bugs can also be found where moisture resides. Nasty pests such as ants, roaches, earwigs, mosquitoes, and even termites are likely to make their home in your dirty gutters. Before long, they could find their way into the house.

  1. Leaks Everywhere

Roofs and basements are also at considerable risk for leaking when your gutters get clogged. Roofs are especially at risk, because when water can't safely vacate it accumulates. This leads to serious strain on your roof. Eventually, that strain will lead to costly roof repairs — or even replacements.

Your system keeps excess water from pooling around your home. When the water has a chance to pool, your basement has a chance to start flooding. No one wants water damage in the basement. Keeping your gutters clean reduces the risk of costly leaks and water damage around your entire home.

  1. Cracked or Rotted Foundations

The same water that causes leaky basements could cause cracked or rotted foundations if you're not careful. Whether your foundation is made from wood or concrete, both are at risk of considerable water damage.

It's especially important to keep your gutters clean throughout the freezing Maryland winters to prevent foundational damage. This is because when moisture is trapped in foundations and freezes it also expands, which causes cracks and serious damage.

  1. Sidewalk and Driveway Damage

Water pooling on your sidewalk or driveway could be dangerous. It causes slips, especially in the winter when that water turns to slippery ice, but that water doesn't just pose a safety hazard. It could also cause long-term structural damage. Sagging or cracked concrete is a common side effect that occurs when water is unable to properly drain away from those structures.

  1. Drowning Lawns

Many homeowners take great pride in a lush, flourishing lawn, but beautiful gardens and lawns require careful watering. This watering could be disrupted by a malfunctioning or clogged gutter system. When water can’t go anywhere else, it pools on your lawn or garden leading to drowned plant life and over-watered grass.

  1. And More …

Depending on the set-up of your system, clogs lead to all kinds of structural damage. Exterior paint jobs, wall structures, and your carefully curated home aesthetic could all be at risk.

Luckily, cleaning can be easily completed. A bit of preventative maintenance could mean a strong, beautiful home for years to come. Simply add “contact a professional” to your to-do list a few times a year, and you're good to go.

Can You Do It Yourself?

You could get the job done yourself with a ladder and some gloves, but that can be expensive, time-consuming, potentially dangerous, and pretty gross. It is much easier to simply hire a professional.

When your gutters get really clogged, it's best to contact a professional. Our team knows the ins-and-outs of all systems. We can ensure unwanted pests or serious structural issues do not go unaddressed.

Regular Gutter Maintenance Can Be Easy

Professional exterior cleaning is an easy, safe, and inexpensive way to keep your home looking great. Our professionals have provided quality gutter cleaning for our neighbors in the Greater Columbia and Eldersburg community for years — including Ellicott City, Clarksville, and Dayton. They're ready to serve you, too!

If you notice any signs of gutter trouble, call us, or visit us online to request service from one of our professionals right away!