How well your house performs depends on how effective every component is at performing its intended task. For example, one of the most important features of a house system is the roof—which is the first line of defense against the elements. Siding is another important piece of the puzzle that assists in executing the same task as the roof, albeit in a different way. Finally, your doors and windows should also insulate the home while optimizing the construction in their own unique ways. In short, all home features should work together in harmony to shield the house against the elements, to keep energy loss at a minimum, and to enhance the home’s curbside appeal.
One of the main threats that these important home components do not protect against is water damage. While your roofing, windows, siding, and doors should all stand strong in the rain, too much water exposure will eventually destroy any housing material, no matter the quality. This is where the gutter system comes in. Unlike the previously mentioned components, which offer myriad benefits and play various roles to protect and enhance your home, your gutters have only one job to do—and it’s an important one, to say the least.
The gutter system directs water down and away from the house perimeter. Without a properly functioning gutter system, water can pool on the roof or slip behind the siding, saturate your windows and doors and ultimately ruin your home. Water exposure can and will compromise the structural integrity of the house itself, resulting in thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage.
Cleaning Your Gutters is a Year-Round Job
For residents in Kansas City, keeping gutters free and clear of clogs is of the utmost importance. Clogged gutters won’t perform as they should but keeping them clog-free can be a challenge. Midwest homeowners know that spring and summer bring thunderstorms and tornadoes, while winter brings blizzards and ice storms—and all of these intense weather conditions make cleaning your gutters a year-round job.
Regardless of the type of weather, the potential negative impact on your home’s gutter system performance cannot be understated. The good news is proper care and attention, along with a high-quality gutter guard system can prevent future problems and save you costly repair bills. In this article, our top-rated Kansas City roofing experts at Smart Exteriors will share some important information you need to know about the care and maintenance of your gutter system.
Why Cleaning Gutters is Important
The most important task to adhere to with gutters is to clean them. Not only does cleaning out the gutters provide better functionality, but it also provides homeowners protection against the following:
- Water Damage: Water that can’t flow down and away from the house just continues to pool and collect around the foundation or at weak points in your roofing system. Over time, this leads to a breakdown of your roofing structure and foundation due to water damage.
- Loosened Gutters: When gutters are clogged, the water, debris, sticks, leaves, and other materials become stuck. At that point, the extra weight put on your gutters can cause them to become loose and pull away from the house. This occurrence may also harm your siding and trim depending on how severe the tear is from the house.
- Ice Dams: Midwest winters can be especially brutal with snow and ice melting and refreezing on a nearly daily basis. This thaw/freeze cycle can lead to the development of ice dams thanks to clogged gutters. Clogged gutters prevent the ice from flowing away when it melts. Failure to correct this problem can result in ice dams so heavy they harm the roof or tear the gutters completely away from the house.
- Pests: No one likes pests, whether it’s a simple carpenter ant or various rodents. Did you know that clogged gutters signal an invitation for pests to come nest within the gutter system? Cleaning out those gutters will give you a better chance at preventing pest infestations, which is always a good thing.
When to Clean the Gutters
At this point, you understand why it’s important to clean the gutters, but we have yet to cover when the gutter should be cleaned. Different environments require different cleaning practices. However, the standard rule is to clean them out twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.
Some exceptions to consider include:
- Dry Areas: For those who live in exceedingly dry climates like the Southwestern USA, it’s possible you may only need to clean the gutters out once a year.
- Lots of Nature and Wildlife: In contrast to the previous point, homeowners surrounded by trees and other signs of wildlife may need to up their cleaning to three or four times a year to keep out sticks, leaves, seeds, birds, and insects from clogging the gutters.
- Snow and Ice: For those that experience heavy rain, snowfall, and ice over the winter months, it’s important to verify the conditions of the gutter system as soon as it’s safe to do so. Since the roof is likely to be slippery in these conditions, it’s recommended to hire a professional contractor who has the experience and equipment to safely perform this cleaning.
How to Clean the Gutters
Many homeowners desire to clean out the gutters themselves to save money and/or time. While we don’t recommend this for most homeowners, if you do decide to go this route, safety is of the utmost importance. Cleaning the roof yourself can be dangerous without the right skills, tools, and experience. If you choose to do this, make sure you’re in good physical shape and are equipped with the following:
- Gloves: Your hands will need the protection considering the high possibility of sharp objects being present in the gutter.
- Dust Mask: Clogged gutters that are also dry can be dusty. Wearing a dust mask will keep you protected from dust, dirt clouds, and other breathing concerns.
- Safety Goggles: Besides dust clouds, there may also be loose debris that flies out. That’s why it’s recommended to wear safety goggles when cleaning out the gutters.
- Ladder and an Assistant: The ladder will help you reach the gutters, while a spotter will ensure that the ladder doesn’t tip over with you on it. Safety first is the rule for all gutter-cleaning projects.
- Garden Trowel: A trowel will allow you to get the debris out that your hands alone can’t loosen and remove.
- Bucket: Keep all of the larger debris contained inside of a bucket. You can use a garden hose to wash out the remaining dirt and debris for shining gutters.
Consider Investing in Gutter Guards
Maybe cleaning out the gutters is something you lack the patience, experience, or the time to do. In that case, it may be time to consider attaching gutter guards to your gutter system. Gutter guards are designed to eliminate the need for such frequent cleaning since they protect against debris, sticks, leaves, and other items that contribute to clogged gutters.
However, there are gutter guards and there are gutter guards that get the job done. For the absolute best performance, it’s recommended to invest in micro-mesh gutter guards. While shopping for this type of gutter guard, make sure the micro-mesh steel is made of high-grade, surgical-quality, stainless steel. This will ensure problems like rust and corrosion aren’t a concern.
While this is a more expensive option than other gutter guards, the benefits outweigh the cost. This type of guard is the closest solution to maintenance-free gutters currently on the market. No other option will provide the performance and quality needed for superior gutter performance.
Ready to check out your gutter options, then give us a call at Smart Exteriors to speak with one of our agents about our gutter guard installation services. Or, if you’re ready to discuss your next exterior remodeling project with us, fill out our online form to schedule a free, in-home assessment and estimate with a member of our team.