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How much time do you spend maintaining your gutters? If you’re like most people, you probably cannot recall the last time you even thought about them. It’s common never to think about them until you notice there’s an issue. Maybe you spot dirty streaks down the side of your walls or a loose section of guttering following a storm.

Even if you stopped reading there for a moment to pop outside to check the condition of your gutters, you can’t always tell whether they are 100% fine from the ground.

Don’t worry, though. If you want to know everything there is to know about gutter maintenance, keep reading. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to guttering you can rely on to give you the answers you’re looking for.

Why is gutter maintenance important?

Gutters are one of those ‘out of sight, out of mind’ portions of your home. Just as you rarely look up at the roof, you rarely look up at your gutters either. If something happens at eye level or below, you’ll spot it. But who looks above their head to see what’s happening up there? It’s not the most natural of scenarios.

Yet if your gutters are not working as they should or have been damaged or broken, they’re not going to do the job they were designed for. If that’s the case, they can lead to other issues far worse than the original gutter problem you were faced with. You shouldn’t ignore your gutters and you certainly shouldn’t overlook any issues that arise. We’ll find out why shortly.

Gutters are there for a reason. They’re designed to make sure water from your roof is carried away safely to downpipes and eventually to the drains. Imagine what would happen the next time it rained if you didn’t have gutters. That water from your roof would pour straight off it. It would likely run down the exterior walls of your home.

Now, exterior walls can usually withstand the rain if they are in good condition. However, if there are issues with your walls, an absence of guttering can make those issues worse. Moreover, guttering also takes most of the water landing on your roof away from the walls.

If you have a water butt, think how quickly it fills after a rain shower. Imagine all that water pouring off your roof instead of being funnelled to your water butt, or simply down the drain. It would pour down your walls and down your windows. The potential would be there for it to find its way into any small cracks, crevices, or other openings into your home.

Even if no such openings exist, the volume of water would likely cause damage over time. We’re talking about the potential for litres of water to do damage to exterior paintwork, brickwork, pointing, and more. The damper conditions are also likely to encourage the growth of mould over time. At best, you’ll find yourself faced with increased maintenance to take care of – maintenance you could avoid if you had gutters and regularly maintained those instead.

Start with a proper gutter installation

Gutters look simple enough, but they should always be installed by an expert. It’s very easy to install the wrong size or to position them so you end up with standing water in them whenever it rains. All gutters should have a small – almost imperceptible to the naked eye – tilt towards the downpipe the water is carried away to. If this isn’t the case, water will collect in the gutter and become stagnant.

You may not think that is an issue since you cannot see it, but it can be a huge problem. Bacteria will breed in there and birds will likely be attracted to it. They might even find they can camp out in your roof while they’re there.

Even if that doesn’t happen, the stagnant water will freeze in winter. Water takes up around 9% more room when it freezes. If this happens in your guttering, it increases the chances of the gutters cracking or failing over time.

Expert gutter installers make ensure each run of guttering is correctly pitched, installing the right quantity of downpipes to carry away the water collected from the roof.

Regular gutter cleaning is important

We all strive to keep our homes clean. That should extend to the guttering too, but it’s easy to forget about that. After all, the rain washes the gutters, doesn’t it? It keeps all the debris out of them and keeps everything flowing.

Except, of course, this may not be true. Over time, dirt, leaves, and other debris mounts up. While the rain will wash a certain amount of this into the downpipe, not all of it is easy to get rid of. It’s common for leaves and other debris to get caught around the top of the downpipe or even inside it. This impedes the flow of water getting into your water butt or down the drain.

If your downpipe isn’t working and the guttering above is overflowing, a clog could well be the cause. Regular cleaning ensures things never reach this stage. You need only have your gutters and downpipes cleaned and checked once or twice a year to ensure nothing like this happens. Removing all leaves and debris is a sure way to maintain the free flow of water.

If you don’t do this and your guttering is prone to debris build up, it could lead to other problems over time. The number one cause of sagging gutters is debris. You’d be surprised how heavy this can be, especially where twigs and wet leaves are concerned. If you’ve got moss on your roof, this can dislodge during storms and clog up the gutters further. We’ve replaced broken guttering on homes that could have prevented this if they’d opted for regular gutter cleaning services. It’s a simple thing, yet it provides peace of mind and greater protection for your property.

Tackle any minor repairs quickly

Occasionally, guttering may require a small repair. There might be a slight leak between two sections of guttering and the joint that connects them. This is a small repair, easy to complete, that will prevent further problems occurring in future.

It’s easy to think you can leave a minor issue until later. Most homeowners have a list of jobs to complete on their homes. A minor guttering problem might be well down that list. In some cases, people don’t spot these issues until they progress to far more serious ones.

That’s the problem – small issues tend to get worse if they are left alone. Over time, water leaking from gutters causes damp and mould on exterior walls. This could lead to problems inside the home, too. You might also spot mould growing around the leaky part of your guttering. If the leak is bad enough, you could end up with puddles forming underneath that area whenever it rains.

This points to the importance of resolving any small issues when they initially occur. Leaks won’t disappear and they rarely stay the same. Instead, they tend to get worse and cause other problems too. By tackling minor repairs as soon as you can, you’ll prevent bigger issues from developing. One more reason to make sure you have access to a reliable and experienced gutter repair service you can call on whenever necessary.

Could you benefit from adding gutter guards to your home?

Do you live somewhere that has lots of trees overhanging your property? If so, you’re likely to experience far more leaves, twigs, and other things falling into your gutters than a property in the middle of a city. Does that make it worth getting gutter guards?

These guards come in several forms. Some look like long brushes that sit in the guttering. These are sometimes known by the quirky name ‘gutter hedgehog’. Others are more like netting – although are more rigid – and sit over the gutter rather than in it. In each case though, the idea behind gutter guards is the same. They allow water to flow freely along the gutter yet minimise the amount of debris falling into it.

They sound tempting, but they don’t prevent everything from falling into your gutters and clogging them up. Furthermore, you’d need to have them removed occasionally to clean them instead of the gutters. Is it worth it? Not usually.

It’s true they will prevent larger items such as leaves and twigs from getting stuck in there and clogging things up. However, dirt from your roof will still fall in there, so it doesn’t negate the need for regular cleaning.

The other advantage of choosing regular gutter cleaning rather than gutter guards is that the cleaning process is much easier and less time-consuming to complete. That means the cleaning could be cheaper for you. The lack of any guards also makes it easier for gutter cleaners to check the condition of your gutters for any possible issues. In short, it’s easier to choose regular cleaning than to try and delay it by using gutter guards.

Don’t stop at the guttering – your downpipes are important too

We’ve covered many aspects of gutters already. One thing we have only briefly touched upon is downpipes. Even if you have super-clean gutters, your downpipes are responsible for carrying the water away from your property. If they develop a problem, you’re going to experience problems too.

Professional gutter cleaners should check your downpipes are clear as part of their service. If the gutters haven’t been cleaned in a while, there could be a partial blockage of debris lower down in the downpipes. When it rains, look at the bottom of the downpipe to see if there is debris sitting there clogging up the drain. This may point to debris coming out of your gutters and potentially limiting the amount of water that can safely travel down the drainpipes.

If there is a blockage, a plumber’s snake or similar item is often used to start loosening the blockage. The debris can then be collected from the bottom of the drainpipe before it goes into the drains.

Take good care of your guttering

Guttering has an important role to play in helping to protect your home. If you take good care of it, it will take care of you in helping prevent damage that could easily be avoided. Water and debris can potentially cause extensive damage over time. Tackling minor repairs, keeping guttering clear and clean, and knowing how to spot problems all help in maintaining your gutters.

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