Cleaning your gutters is an essential part of gutter maintenance. It helps fend off a number of cosmetic and structural problems around your residential property. Ideally, gutter cleaning should be carried out at least twice a year on most homes to ensure that there is no accumulation of leaves, pine needles, twigs, bird droppings and other debris. But while typically scheduled in spring and fall, some homeowners do clean their gutters in winter.
Should You Clean Your Gutters in Winter?
Due to cool temperatures and frozen precipitation, cleaning gutters and downspouts during the winter months is not advised in most instances. That being said, if your gutters and downspouts are blocked, it is necessary to have them cleaned regardless of the season, especially if you live in a region with very cold winters. The last thing you want is for a blocked gutter or downspout to cause expensive repairs.
Frozen debris can also damage your gutters due to the extra weight threatening the structural supports. The buildup of snow and ice within the gutters can also contribute to damage, which is why it is important to prevent the formation of ice dams.
When Is the Best Time to Clean Your Gutters?
The ideal time to have your heated gutter systems cleaned is after the leaves have fallen off trees. Any prior cleaning may be considered unnecessary. October is usually the prime time for leaf fall, but if there is an especially dry season in your area, trees may lose leaves sooner or later. Whether you are cleaning your gutters on your own or hiring a gutter cleaner, the best time of the year to clean your gutters remains the same, which is during the fall season. You may opt for additional cleaning in springtime if you want to stay on top of your gutter maintenance. This should ensure that your gutters are clear throughout the winter season and that the risk of rainfall or melting snow spilling over or refreezing in the gutters is greatly minimized.
How Do You Clean Your Gutters in Winter?
The best do-it-yourself method of cleaning gutters is to use a gutter scoop or a leaf blower from a ladder. This should ensure that your gutters are free of debris. A gutter scoop is shaped like a rounded trowel so that debris can easily be scooped out of the gutters. You may also need to flush out the gutters using a garden hose. Another simple method is to use a leaf blower, a gardening tool that blows air out of a nozzle to move leaves and grass cuttings. It can also be used for clearing out gutters provided that the debris is dry.
In the case of a minor clog in a downspout, run a hose through it to clear the passage. In more extreme cases, the downspout may need to be disassembled to eliminate the clog.
When cleaning gutters from the ground, gutter installation contractors sometimes use high-pressure water jets to dislodge dirt and debris. One downside is that this method leaves a mess. Gutter vacuums are also available and can be operated from the ground. In case your gutters are blocked with frozen materials, these gutter cleaning techniques may not be very effective.
What Are the Benefits of Gutter Cleaning?
Keeping your gutters free of debris comes with advantages. These include the following:
- It prevents overflows that lead to serious damage. One of the main reasons to clean your gutters is to prevent water damage from taking place. Gutters are designed to transport water away from the foundation of your home. When clogged, your gutters will likely overflow and leak, which can flood your basement, ruin your landscaping and cause leaks inside your home. Ensuring that your gutters are clean is key to maintaining the structure of your home.
- It prevents pests from nesting in your gutters. Another great reason to clean your gutters routinely is to remove the leaves and debris that serve as a breeding ground for insects and pests like squirrels and rats. Debris in your gutters may also decompose into organic matter that encourages the growth of fungi and other plants. Seedlings do not only give your exterior an unsightly look but may also damage your seamless gutters if not removed properly.
- It protects the landscaping around your home. Trees, flower beds and other foliage around your home enhance the curbside appeal of your home. Landscaping also helps regulate temperature extremes, improve your indoor comfort and maximize the value of your property. However, all of this can be put in jeopardy when you have clogged gutters. Overflows can cause soil erosion, sweeping away beautiful flowers and destroying plants that make up your landscaping. With clean gutters, roof runoff can be directed away from your landscape, avoiding any damage to your cherished terrain.
- It extends the life of your roof. It is important to stay on top of gutter cleaning because it helps extend the service life of your roof. When gutters trap ridges of ice in the winter, unnecessary weight is placed on the roof. This can move your shingles apart, creating openings for roof leaks to occur. This can also start the weakening of your roofing system. Meanwhile, a well-maintained gutter system effectively facilitates the draining of rainwater and melting snow from the roof.
- It protects your home against basement flooding. Basement flooding is one of the most prevalent issues caused by clogged gutters. This is because when gutters overflow, water may easily find its way into your basement where it can cause a flood. This is a serious problem for homeowners as stagnant water fuels the growth of mold and mildew. Mold spores may trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks when inhaled by the residents. Moreover, flooding in the basement can cause costly damage to the furniture, electronics and other valuables stored in the place.
- It improves your safety and comfort at home. Gutter cleaning improves the level of safety and comfort you experience in your living space in various ways. Firstly, it helps get rid of pests that spread diseases such as rats and mosquitoes. Secondly, all the decomposed matter in your gutters can contaminate your water, making it unsafe to use. Keeping your gutters clean also ensures that mold and mildew will not grow and spread. Based on these reasons, regular gutter maintenance plays an essential role in evading health-related problems like breathing and respiratory complications.
- It enhances the beauty and value of your home. Gutters can make or break the aesthetic appeal of your exterior. As time goes by, leaks in the seams, corroded spots and loose sections may cause your gutters to pull away from your roof. Such an event would surely reduce the structural integrity of your home and may be interpreted as neglect on your end as a homeowner. According to a gutter installation specialist, houses with clogged gutters tend to have lower value, which is bad news especially if you are planning on putting your home on the market.