Why Should you Clean your Outdoor Gutters

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Many people have learned to clean the gutters outside the home, although others have often found this task to be quite tedious and not necessarily something that they are self-motivated to do. But this is indeed an important part of maintaining your home, especially in regions where persistent rain and other weather conditions result in a great deal of fallen debris. So why so you clean your outdoor gutters?

Over time, organic muck builds up in rain gutters, creating a prime growing area for all kinds of things. Some gutters can become so built up with debris that small trees and ferns actually take root in the gutter muck. Gutters should be cleaned at least twice a year for this reason. Ignoring the task can create numerous problems, such as rotted fascia boards, water damage to the sides and roof of your home, and even foundation problems. To cut down the amount of debris you’ll have to clean out, make sure there are no trees or tall shrubs arching over the house. You will have less to clear out when you do clean the gutters. This can also help keep moss and ferns from growing in there as well.

If you do have trees or shrubs near your home, keep them well-trimmed. You may also need to clean out your gutters more than twice a year. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to clean gutters. Be sure to use a ladder that does not rest directly on the gutters, as this can damage them. Damaged or collapsed gutters lead to more accumulation of gutter muck, which in turn leads to even more severe problems. They also become more difficult to clean. You should wear gloves and eye protection when cleaning, and possibly a face mask if there appears to be moss or mold in the gutters or if you suffer from allergies. Always be cautious when removing buildup, as gutters are prone to have sharp, uneven edges. There may even be things hidden in the buildup that could slice or poke unprotected hands. It’s a good idea to use a bucket to gather the muck instead of tossing it on the ground, as this can get messy and be difficult to pick up. Secure your hose to the gutter so that it stays with you also. Be wary of putting too much weight on the gutters – remember, they are not designed to support much. Make sure you have everything prepared beforehand, because this job can get messy. You do not want to track the buildup into the house.

Once your gutters are clean, it’s fairly simple to check them for leaks or damage. If kept clean, repairs are usually minor. Often you will need only a hammer and nails, as well as possibly some silicone caulk for seams. Replace any worn or damaged pieces as soon as possible -- especially during rainy months -- as water leakage can cause extensive damage to your property. If you consistently clean your gutters in spring and fall, repairs are usually minor and require little more than a hammer, screwdriver, extra fasteners and nails, and silicone caulk for sealing seams. If pieces are worn or damaged, replace them as necessary.

Since water trapped in gutters can cause major damage to your roof and walls, maintaining them properly is important. You may want to consider covering your gutters with a wire or plastic mesh, or use specially-made gutter covers. This will help reduce the amount of large debris found in your gutters, though it will not keep small debris and dirt from accumulating. If kept up, gutters will last for a long time, and so will your house.

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