Gutter cleaning is a tedious chore for many homeowners. There are probably only a few people who find joy in clearing gutters of debris, leaves and other kinds of dirt. But no matter how much of a hassle this task may seem, it is important to ensure that your gutters are clean and functional.
Keep in mind that your gutters are designed to divert water away from your home. If they are clogged with leaves, twigs, and other debris, water from your roof won’t be able to flow into the downspouts. It can even possibly back up into your roofing and cause water to pool on the roof surface, especially if your roof is on the flatter side. These conditions can eventually lead to serious damage to your roofing. You may find yourself spending for a roof replacement when your roof is still relatively new.
Furthermore, the weight of the water can be especially heavy, causing the gutters to sag and eventually get damaged beyond repair. Your home’s foundation could also be at risk since water will likely be discharged near your home. It’s possible that water will seep into your basement and wet the walls and floor, creating a moist environment that can further result in bigger problems.
But apart from the structural hazards that it can cause, you should also watch out for the health risks posed by the stagnant water in your gutters. Mold and mildew can breed in such environments, and they can easily spread into different parts of your home. Before you know it, your indoor air quality has already been compromised with mold spores contaminating the air you breathe.
Apart from mold and mildew, stagnant water can also harbor various types of bacteria and microorganisms. One such bacteria is the Legionella bacteria.
In this post, top-rated gutter contractor Barry Best Seamless Gutters shares more information about Legionella bacteria and how it can grow in your gutters.
Basic Facts About Legionnaires Disease
Legionnaire’s disease is an illness caused by Legionella Pneumophila, a type of bacteria that results from complex water systems such as those found in gutters. It develops into a particular type of pneumonia with symptoms including:
- high fever (usually as high as 105 degrees)
- aching joints
- a dip in energy levels
- loss of appetite
- severe chest pain
- difficulty breathing
You can get infected with Legionnaire’s disease if you ingest contaminated water or inhale the mist of such water. People often worry that their water supply could be the source of the bacteria. But before jumping to conclusions, you might also want to check for a clogged gutter because this is a common breeding ground of the Legionella bacteria.
In general, healthy people are likely to recover from this illness. But older people, those who have conditions like diabetes, and those who are taking medication that weakens the immune system (such as chemotherapy) need to take extra care since they are the most susceptible to this disease.
How Legionella Bacteria Can Grow in Your Gutters
When gutters get clogged with dirt and debris, they will eventually start collecting water. This water will remain stagnant inside the gutters since the blockage is preventing it to flow properly. Legionella bacteria thrive in stagnant water, especially in temperatures ranging from 68 to 122 degrees. That said, the risk of this bacteria growing in your gutters becomes higher during the summer when the roof can easily heat up.
Apart from the stagnant water and warm temperature, the leaves stuck in your gutters and the insects that the stagnant water attracts can also create a type of sediment, which promotes the growth of algae, flavobacteria, and Pseudomonas. All these factors contribute to the growth of Legionella. So when addressing clogging issues in your gutter system, you have to be careful and make sure that you are protected from possible infection.
Cleaning Your Gutters
Since clogged gutters are potential breeding grounds for Legionella, you should make it a point to clean your gutters regularly so as to prevent this kind of problem. Experts also recommend installing gutter covers so that you can keep dirt and debris out of your gutter system.
When cleaning your gutters, you should wear proper safety gear to avoid infection, especially if your gutters already have stagnant water in them. Make sure you have a pair of goggles, a face mask, long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, a rubber apron, and rubber boots.
Once you have the proper attire on, you can start by placing a bucket underneath your gutters and then taking another one with you to place on top of the roof. Bring a small shovel or hand spade as well. You will use this to break the clogs apart and throw the gunk in the bucket on the roof.
Remember that you don’t have to rush yourself in performing this task. Take as much time as you need and take extra care so that the water from your gutters won’t rush out too quickly and overfill the bucket.
After cleaning and draining your gutters, you should run an antibacterial soap through your gutters to destroy any lingering bacteria. When disposing of the contaminated water and gunk, make sure to seal both buckets and bring them to a medical waste depository.
Hire Gutter Cleaning Professionals
As you may have noticed, the job requires a lot of safety precautions and a high level of meticulousness. That is why you might want to consider hiring a professional to do the job for you instead. This way, you can minimize your risk of coming in contact with contaminated water. Furthermore, you can ensure that the task will be done thoroughly and correctly. And since experts usually have the right tools and skills to perform the job, you can have peace of mind that the job will be carried out safely as well.
When looking for gutter cleaning professionals, make sure to check their qualifications. They should be experienced in cleaning and fixing clogged gutters since even a single error while doing the job can lead to serious consequences. Ensure that the company is insured as well. Ideally, they should have both general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance. The former will protect your home against damage caused by the workers, and the latter is for protecting yourself against potential liabilities in case the workers get injured while doing work on site.
Don’t hesitate to ask about the contractor’s process or how they plan on approaching the problem. This will give you a better idea of what to expect from them. It can also serve as a way for you to test their expertise in this specific job. Make sure to inform them about the general condition of your gutters too. This way, they can better prepare for the inspection and take the necessary safety measures.
Barry Best Seamless Gutters has over 29 years of experience as well as a solid reputation of providing exceptional services and products. We specialize in seamless gutters and gutter protection, and we can also carry out awnings installation. Call us at (315) 697-5000 or fill out our contact form to request a free estimate. We serve customers in Dewitt, Syracuse, and Hamilton, NY.