No matter the topic, there are always some common questions regarding it. Following are answers to some of the most frequent questions asked about gutter cleaning:
When is the Best Time to Perform Gutter Cleaning?
There are two schools of thought; before the predominant leaf and needle fall for your area or immediately afterwards. Which works for your house has as much as to do with past practices as it does the composition of the debris and environment surrounding your home. If leaf fall is very little but it has been years since last cleaned and your gutters are already overflowing before the primary debris fall has even started, you might want to consider cleaning prior to the fall so that they have capacity for new debris. However, if your yearly debris fall is high and a single season fills up the full capacity of the gutters, then it is best to wait for the entire debris drop before cleaning.
This answer also depends on what type of trees are in your yard. If your yard is surrounded by deciduous trees, which lose most of their leaves over a few week period, cleaning after the drop might work best. If your yard has a lot of evergreen trees, which lose needles regularly throughout the entire year, you might want clean them out as soon as there is clogging, regardless of when that is.
There are other less common, reasons for the timing of cleaning. On occasion, gutter cleaning is done during the spring or summer as a result of unsightly weeds literally growing out of dirty gutters!
Regardless of all of these scenarios, cleaning gutters after the autumn leaf fall is the most common practice.
How Often Should I Perform Gutter Cleaning?
Unfortunately, this is one of those questions that depend on the specific location. Many residences can suffice with a yearly gutter cleaning. Some, without many nearby tall trees, can go longer, possibly two to four years between cleanings. Others, in more densely treed areas, require multiple cleaning per year, ranging from two to four or five.
Aside from the gutters capacity to hold debris as mentioned above, there is still the corrosive, rusting, aspect of leaving gutters filled with decaying organic matter. Additionally, very full and overflowing gutters increase the risk of roof and window leaks. In light of this, unless your house has extenuating circumstances, yearly cleaning is the best bet and a good starting interval.
How Much Should Gutter Cleaning Cost?
Again, this is another question that depends on the location. Size, difficulty, location, and desired method are the greatest influences on price. Bigger houses, steeper and taller roofs, sloped property, and slippery or fragile roof material all factor into increasing the cost of a job. The structure’s location, in regards to the surrounding environment and how many trees are present, affects price as well. Finally, the method of cleaning affects the price. Methods vary from power washing the gutter debris out (very messy – we never use this method) to air blowing (not near as messy but ultimately dependant on good ground cleanup up) to hand cleaning (the tidiest.) All of these factors considered, common gutter cleaning prices can range from just over a hundred dollars to over three or four hundred.
There is one last pricing factor to consider. Seeing that almost any one with a truck and ladder can fancy themselves as a gutter cleaner, there are a lot of uninsured and unlicensed folks who offer the service. Aside from the quality, reliability, and warranty issues involved, there is always a big risk to allowing uninsured, un-bonded and unlicensed people to work on your property, particularly where ladders and roof top work are involved. Properly licensed companies will cost a little more than a weekend warrior earning some fun money but it is well worth it.
Is Gutter Cleaning Important?
I alluded to this above when discussing what can happen when debris is left inside of a gutter for too long. Rusting and corrosion can start. This will shorten the life of gutter system. Holes can eventually start appearing in rusted areas. Roof leaks or leaks at the exterior walls and windows can also occur when gutters are left clogged. Clogged gutters also become very heavy and will eventually pull away from either the fascia board or rafter tails behind them. Pulled out gutters tend to twist, further damaging the gutter systems seams.
Another problem from full and overflowing gutters is that the fascia boards, rafter tails and even roof sheathing can start to rot. These can all be quite involved and expensive to repair. Even aluminum gutters, purchased because of their rustproof nature but still subject to corrosion, are subject to many of the other types of damage listed here as a result of not being cleaned.
What is Gutter Cleaning? What Does it Involve?
While most folks understand that gutter cleaning refers to removing the debris that collects inside of the gutters, there still can be confusion. The actual interior walls of the gutter are not scrubbed clean with an “interior gutter cleaning,” but rather just the interior cleaned of debris. Some gutters will have a sludge type substance accumulate at the bottom of the gutters too, often the decomposed organic matter that has fallen. This sludge can often cause more blockage than the debris itself. While some of it can be removed by hand, most of it can be flushed down the downspout. Just ensure that it is flushed adequately long so that you can see water coming out from the drain exhaust point (often in the street next to the driveway or if you live in on a slope with undeveloped land behind you, sometime an exposed pipe that shoots out to the undeveloped area.)
Exteriors of gutter sometimes need to be cleaned as well for purely aesthetic reasons. This is never to be confused with actual interior gutter cleaning. Since all gutters are on the exterior of the house, the reference to “exterior” means the outside, outwardly facing surface of the gutters. It is always an option, additional service for those who require it.
For best results, gutter cleaning should usually also include a roof blow off of loose debris (NOTE: moss is not considered loose debris – a dedicated roof cleaning and treating is required to address that.) Removing this debris helps prevent new debris just sliding down into the newly cleaned gutters when the next heavy wind or rain comes. Finally, realize that gravity and wind are at play and as debris comes off the roof and gutters, it will either hit the ground, siding, windows, or all of the above. These surfaces should be rinsed off. A rule of thumb with exterior cleaning is to always start at the top and work your way down. Therefore, do not get your windows cleaned and then clean your gutters. There is no assurance that rinsing debris off of windows will not cause minor water spots – it depends on the type of water and the weather conditions. If spots might be an issue for you, clean your gutters before the windows.
If you still have questions or would like to take action and get your gutters cleaned, please do not hesitate – call us right now. We are happy to help you.