Clogged gutters are more than just an annoyance for homeowners; they can be a source of costly repairs. Clogged gutters allow water to pool up on the roof, damaging roofing materials and potentially soaking into your home. When gutters are clogged, the additional weight of water and materials trapped in the gutters not only weakens the gutters, but that added weight can pull at the fascia boards on your home and damage those as well. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of source materials that can wind up clogging your gutters, but it’s not all bad news! Knowing the most common sources is an important first step in keeping your gutters free of clutter and protecting your property.
The 4 Most Common Sources of Clogs
Take a look around the outside of your home and you’re likely to easily spot some of the most obvious sources of clogs in your gutters. Small twigs snapping off in a thunderstorm, dead branches falling off a tree on a windy day, and leaves raining down during the fall months are all obvious culprits when it comes to clogged gutters. However, there are some sneakier sources of clogs out there that you may not even notice until it’s too late and your gutters are already clogged. Here’s a rundown of the four most common sources:
- Leaves – as mentioned above, this one is obvious. Every autumn the leaves begin to fall off the trees, and when you have trees that hang over your house, those leaves are most likely going to end up on your roof. Through wind and rain, those leaves are going to find their way into your gutters. You can hire a service to trim tree branches away from the house, but remember that leaves can carry in the wind easily, so they are still very likely to find a way into your gutters.
- Bird’s nests – now we’re getting into the less obvious sources. If you notice a lot of birds hanging around your gutters, they are likely there sourcing materials to build their nests. They’ll pluck clusters of leaves, organic materials, and small twigs from your gutters to build their nests. Unfortunately, in some cases, birds will just stick around and use those materials to build a nest right where they found the leaves and twigs: your gutters.
- Weeds – believe it or not, as more organic matter collects in your gutter you may find that weeds become a source of clogs. Weeds are quite resilient and have a knack for growing in the toughest conditions. All it takes is moisture and a source for weeds to take root and sprout. When leaves and twigs jam up those gutters, it makes the perfect breeding ground for weeds.
- Muck and sludge – not exactly a scientific term, muck and sludge also have a way of griming up your gutters. This might be the nastiest source of gutter clogs because what is muck and sludge today was previously leaves, guano from bats and other animals, and even small animal carcasses that have decayed into a black, slimy mess in your gutters. Clearing this out is not a fun task and is the most time-consuming obstruction to remove.
Here’s How Most People Clear Gutters
When it comes time to clean the gutters or attempt to keep them clear, most Americans resort to a few different tactics. Climbing a ladder and inching along the gutter scraping out the leaves and gunk by hand is one choice many people make. Others will take it further and go up on the roof to reach down into the gutters. Of course, you can try to stay ahead of these sources of clogs by paying tree trimming services to clear overhanging branches and climbing onto your roof regularly to clear away debris.
However, this all comes with a continual cost. Every few years you’ll have to pay a tree trimming service to ensure the branches don’t grow back over your roof. There’s also the potential health care costs that come with regularly climbing ladders and shuffling around on the roof. A 16-year study from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics released in 2011 found that ladder-related injuries per 100,000 people rose 27% over the course of the study, and 97.3% of those ladder falls occur at home in non-occupational settings. More than 2.1 million people were hospitalized over that time period. Even worse, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reports that 500,000 people are treated for ladder-related injuries each year and some 300 people die annually as a result of these falls.
Given all that, there has to be an easier way to keep these sources of clogs out of your gutters, right?
An Easier Way to Get Clear Gutters
With one simple addition to your gutter systems, you can keep your gutters flowing freely while avoiding the hassle and risk of climbing ladders. Gutter guards can be installed for an average cost of $1,500 to $2,000 with professional installation included in that price. With that one-time purchase, you can prevent leaves, organic materials, and small twigs from falling or washing into your gutters. Additionally, gutter guards ensure that small seeds wash off the roof rather than into your gutters. This helps prevent weeds from taking root in your gutters. Finally, while small animals could still climb up the downspout, gutter guards prevent birds from building nests in your gutters and can help keep squirrels and mice out of your gutters, decreasing the likelihood of carcasses ending up in the gutters.