If you’ve ever climbed up onto the roof of your home, you’ve probably given a second thought to hiring someone else to do whatever it was you climbed the ladder to do. Probably your least favorite reason to be up there is to clean the gutters.
But gutters become clogged and you have to do something about it. If you leave them unattended for long, debris builds up and becomes everything from a fire hazard to a home for wasps or squirrels.
How clogged gutters do damage
Here are just a few ways clogged gutters can damage your home. If rainwater fails to drain, it will run directly off the roof and potentially damage the sides and foundation of your house. Cracks will form and eventually erode your foundation. In addition, the wet cracks create a place for mold to grow.
Also, people often don’t consider that rain water can get up under the roofing when blocked by clogged gutters. It can cause serious and expensive damage to your roof.
In addition, falling water can damage the flower beds and shrubs next to your house. In the winter, ice dams may form on the lower edge of the roof and in the gutters. Ice dams can form even with clean gutters, but debris-clogged gutters make them more likely.
How often should you have your gutters cleaned? It depends a lot on the trees around your house, but at least twice a year, spring and fall. If you are surrounded by deciduous (leafy) trees, the fall is when attention to gutters becomes most important. Leaves and maple twirlers can fill them up rapidly.
If evergreens are the main contributors to gutter debris, you will probably have to clean them more often, maybe four times a year. Pine trees shed a lot of needles and they do it year-round.
Hiring a professional
If you are wondering whether to hire someone to clean your gutters for you, what do you need to know? Here are a few tips.
Ask about the warranty. If they don’t do a satisfactory job, what recourse do you have?
Consider installing gutter guards which can keep debris from building up.
If you’ve noticed that your gutters have pulled away from the fascia board, it means your gutters need to be not just cleaned but repaired, maybe replaced.
Look for leaking seams and rust. Those are good indications it’s time to have your gutters replaced.
How old are your gutters? New gutters should last 20 to 40 years, depending on the quality of the material. Aluminum never deteriorates and will last the longest. Galvanized steel deteriorates in 15 to 20 years. Seamless gutters are best and it should be installed using internal hangers rather than spikes. (Hidden hangers are now the preferred method instead of spikes. One hanger every 30 inches will do. A company specializing in seamless gutters Dallas based Ultralast spaces them two feet or less.)
Ask whether the installer primes the gutter to the edge of the roof. That makes it watertight and potentially spares your roof from seeping water should the gutters become clogged. Some important finer points of installing quality gutters include whether they use hand-cut corners, which leak less, and rivets instead of screws. Screws tend to rust.
Finally,a couple of things about licensure and insurance. Roofers are licensed to install gutters, but there may be a specialty license for contractors that do just gutters. Make sure they are insured for both workman’s comp and liability. If someone falls off your roof, you are liable and it may result in an unnecessary claim against your homeowner’s insurance.