To work out when is best and how often you should clean your gutters, start with the reasons why they need to be clean in the first place. There are five major reasons for keeping your gutters in optimal condition. From there, you can work out what is likely to impact you and therefore how often you should have your gutters cleaned and when. Well maintained gutters are crucial to preventing long term damage to your home and roof. Not having your gutters cleaned is one of the biggest mistakes that property owners can make when it comes to gutters.
Five Key Reasons to Regularly Maintain Your Gutters
- Roof Longevity
Having a roof over your head is a well-known factor for dictating your level of personal safety and security. It is THE thing protecting your home, and everyone inside it, safe from the elements. And given that roof damage is usually one of the higher priced repairs that you may have to deal with as a home owner, it pays to look after it. And to top it off, some insurance companies stipulate that roof repairs aren’t covered if they feel gutters have not been maintained properly. It could really cost you. The smallest amount of damage can lead to massive consequences in every part of your home, from structural damage, to electrical problems, hazardous mold formation, and so much more.Gutters are crucial to your roof functioning as designed. So getting them frequently cleaned and checked is key to keeping your roof in top condition (Hint: good insurance policies actually cover gutters due to their importance). Gutters ferry water safely away from critical parts of your home and into tanks or drains, so that water isn’t left to sit around your home’s foundations (more on this in a little bit). By ensuring that your gutters are clear of debris, guiding water away cleanly without spillover or leakage, and not harboring any nasty surprises – you know your roof can do its job right. By spending a small amount of money and time on regularly maintaining your gutters, you can extend the lifespan of your roof for years longer and save yourself some much higher costs in the long run.
- Flood Prevention
This is a no brainer for anyone that has experienced a massive downpour or has issues with excessive water pooling on their property. With the increase in the likelihood of major storms year on year, this will be something that affects everyone eventually. Gutters that are blocked or damaged can overflow or leak in areas where there is little to no drainage, meaning water runs and collects to a spot that can’t handle it. This can erode your home’s foundations, cause damage to the protective exterior, sometimes even leading to decay of the major structural elements of your home, and eventual leaks and water damage to the interior of your home.Failing to regularly maintain your gutters can be made even worse if you have a basement or major underground works. Regardless of whether the damage comes from a small amount of excess water over time, or one big downpour – there’s always damages and costs associated. Beyond the damage to your home, excess flooding also comes with dangerous mold growth, more insects and pests (which we will explore in more detail shortly), and greater safety hazards when navigating your property. By having your gutters properly cleaned, cleared and checked – you can mitigate the big AND small flooding risks that will cause havoc to your wallet and your health.
- Better Prepared for Fires
In Australia, bushfire hazards around the home are no joke. Your gutters should be a crucial part of your fire preparedness practices come bushfire season, for two big reasons.The first, is simply to prevent a fire from starting in the first place. Gutters that aren’t maintained, are usually filled with plant material and leaf litter that has been completely dried out in the hot sun. This is the perfect catalyst for a fire to start from a stray spark or an extreme heat spell. And because gutters are sitting so far off the ground, we usually don’t spot the danger signs of smoke and flames forming in clogged gutters and drains until it is too late. Gutters are also situated perfectly for a bergeoning fire to jump to overhanging branches and leaves (sparking up very easily if they are Australian natives due to the high oil content).The second reason for making gutter cleaning part of your bushfire season prep, is to help you fight an existing fire that is threatening your home. This is the one time you want to make sure your home is as wet as possible. Fire authorities usually recommend to block your downpipes and fill your gutters to help prevent embers from starting a fire in your gutters or on your roof. In order to be able to do this properly, your drains need to be in good condition and not clogged. Bush fires burn hot and quickly dry out any moisture in the area, so your gutters need to be completely clean and clear. This ensures there’s plenty of water available to help protect your home, and no material that could potentially catch fire.If you live anywhere in Australia, odds are that it’s not just the wetter seasons that you have to worry about cleaning your gutters – it’s the drier hotter seasons too.
- Increasing Safety & Comfort
While flooding can bring a lot of mould and other dangerous growth, it’s not the only thing. Simply having stagnant water around your home, even in gutters and drains, can lead to problems that adversely affect your health. By cleaning your gutters and helping water flow away from your home without disruption, you can mitigate the risk of these growths forming. Not only that, it prevents pests like mosquitos from laying eggs and populating right near your home. Potentially spreading disease, especially in Victoria where Buruli ulser is a huge problem.Other vermin can also make a home in your gutters. The leaf litter and plant material make excellent shelter and provide plenty of warmth for many pests that can happily nest in your gutters. More build up in your gutters can increase the likelihood of these types of pests finding ways into your roofing and really making themselves a home. Whether you dislike these creatures for health reasons or you have a fear of them, ensuring your gutters are clean, is a big step in keeping them away from your home.
- Better Looking
Last but certainly not the least, cleaning your gutters is key to making your home look better. It’s one of the simplest things you can do to increase the curb appeal of your house. Think about some places that you have been in the past with gardens growing out of their gutters, broken and rusting guttering, and water leaking everywhere. Those are not usually the places you think of fondly. A house with a well maintained exterior, no matter how old or dated, will always look better than a similar house in a state of disrepair. Having clean and working gutters and drainage systems, is one of the simplest things you can do to instantly to increase the value of your property and make a statement.
When and How Often Should You Clean Your Gutters?
The number of times you clean your gutters generally depends on a number of factors relating to your property.
For example, living in a drier area of Australia prone to bushfires with plenty of native trees surrounding the home that frequently drop leaves and branches. If that’s like your situation, you will probably need to make gutter cleaning a very regular part of your home’s maintenance schedule. Getting in a professional to clean your gutters properly in the summer months when your home is at a much higher risk, is incredibly important.
If you’re living with asthma or other breathing conditions, this could be a reason to get gutters cleaned more regularly. Particularly in the windier and wetter months of the year. If this is you, then the mould and allergen risks from blocked or damaged drains and gutters, is something you may have to be conscious of. Making sure your gutters are cleaned and clear of debris prevents excessive allergens and air pollutants from collecting around your home and impacting you on days with high winds. Not having water pouring out of overflowing gutters mitigates the risk of mould and other spore forming growths from impacting you.
On the other hand, if you live in a suburb with little tree cover, aren’t impacted too heavily by the weather and maybe have a smaller family-type budget to work with, you may not need to worry about cleaning your gutters as frequently. You may only need to adhere to a standard maintenance schedule of a couple of times a year before peak rain periods. Or before certain holiday periods if you want to make your home look good for visitors.
So, the question of how often and when to clean your gutters, really comes down to the individual circumstances. The important thing to note is that they DO need to be cleaned, for all the reasons mentioned earlier and more. To help you work out how often you need to clean your gutters and when, we’ve created a quick cheat sheet to guide you.
Gutter Cleaning 101
Ask yourself these questions, the more ‘YES’ answers you have – the more likely you will need to organise regular cleaning for your gutters. If you answer all ‘NO’ then you are probably safe to stick to a standard cleaning schedule of twice yearly.
|Why is This Important?||How Often and When?|
|Do you live in flood prone areas or near a water table?||Water is a higher chance of collecting on your property. Fully functional drainage systems and watertight roofing, is crucial for mitigating flooding and water damage.||More frequent gutter cleaning especially before and during the wetter months, and especially using a professional who can check for any damage or early warning signs that need to be addressed urgently.|
|Do you have an older home?||Older homes are more prone to wear and tear. There is already existing damage that can lead to greater risk of||Standard gutter cleaning schedule, consider a regular comprehensive roof inspection in addition to more frequent cleaning.|
|Are there multiple large trees on your property?||Large trees drop leaves and debris into gutters, increasing likelihood of gutters filling with leaf litter.||Standard gutter cleaning schedule with more cursory inspections from the homeowner, in case in-between cleans are required.|
|Are there native trees on your property?||Native trees are more prone to dropping dried bark, branches and leaves. Higher oil content means a higher likelihood of catching fire.||More frequent cleaning and regular cursory inspections by homeowner, especially before and during bushfire seasons. If you have gutter protectors, you will need to be even more diligent with fires starting in your gutters.|
|Are you in a bushfire prone area?||Blocked gutters can set fire. Clean gutters can be used to mitigate risk of embers starting a fire on your roof.||Very frequently, especially before and during the drier hotter months. As well as inspections when you have early alerts for fires in your area. Also, consider using a more comprehensive type of clean to remove any blockages from drainpipes so the system works its best.|
|Do you have asthma or other relevant health/breathing conditions?||Leaf litter and pollens collect around the home if not cleared away from areas like gutters, especially in more urban areas. Mould is more likely to build up in dank moist areas from blocked gutters and drains.||More frequent cleaning required, particularly in high allergy and pollen areas. Cleaning should be kept to before or during a storm and/or with heavy periods of wind.|
|Do you have a fear of, or are you allergic to, any insects and rodents?||Insects and rodents love dank stagnant areas of moisture so will make homes in gutters and drains with plenty of debris and litter. Damage to roofing from overflowing gutters can also allow rodents and insects to make nests and the like inside roofing and wall spaces.||Standard gutter cleaning schedule is fine. Unless you hear or spot any signs of pests in your roof and/or walls. Consider organising roof inspections if you find that pests are becoming a major problem in your home.|
|Is there anyone very young, very old, or infirm living in the home?||Floods, erosion, and other structural damage from blocked gutters are a huge injury hazard for vulnerable people in your home.||Standard gutter cleaning schedule should be adhered to. In addition to regular homeowner inspections of the property for any injury hazards possibly due to blocked gutters.|
|Is your home part of an owners corp. or association?||Some owners corp. and association contracts stipulate a certain degree of upkeep. This can include regular maintenance works like gutter cleaning, which can have legal consequences if you don’t comply.||Whatever is recommended or written within the contract, otherwise stick to a standard cleaning schedule. You may need to keep receipts as proof of maintenance. However, owner inspections may not be needed as your neighbours will likely tell you before then.|
|Are you in an area with heavy winds?||With heavy winds, come plenty of leaves, branches, and so on. Gutters will fill much quicker in windier areas.||More frequent gutter cleaning should be considered, especially before or during a storm and/or with heavy periods of wind. In addition to owner inspection of the property very frequently.|
|Does your insurance policy have conditions depending on gutter maintenance?||Insurance companies can refuse to pay for roof repair and other similar damages in some instances where gutters have not been properly maintained.||While a standard gutter cleaning schedule should be ok, check the fine print on your policy. It may have stipulations around your gutter cleans giving you an indicator of how frequently they are expecting you to clean your gutters.|
Your gutters are a key tool in your home protection toolbox. They help keep you safe and dry from the elements so it is incredibly important to ensure they are kept in the best condition they can be. Some insurance policies rely on you properly maintaining your gutters for them to pay for things like damages to your roof. It pays to spend them time and money on something small like cleaning them, while you can, to prevent them from costing you more in the long run. While there are a few key reasons why you should clean your gutters, how they impact you will indicate how frequently and when exactly you should organise for your gutters to be done.
More importantly, it pays to have this done professionally. Not only can they get the job done thoroughly, very quickly, and without the mess of scooping it out manually – they will spot things that you might not. Especially if you are in a situation that may indicate you need more frequent gutter cleans or other roof and drain maintenance services. A professional will be able to spot the warning signs of a more serious problem and give you advice on steps to take to address the problem. Cleaning out the entire diameter of your home to properly clean your gutters, is tedious and time consuming, none of which many people have these days. So, it really is the best option to get someone in to clean your gutters and keep an eye on any growing problems as they appear.
PorterVac are one of the biggest names in comprehensive and efficient gutter cleaning. We use state of the art vacuum technology to completely remove all the debris collected in the gutters and drainpipes. Without leaving a huge mess around your home for you to clean up or cause more problems. We also conduct a free roof inspection with every gutter clean so you can have peace of mind that your home is being looked after and everyone under that roof is safe.
If you need your gutters cleaned or would like to chat to a professional to organise regular maintenance works on your home, call us today. At PorterVac, we know how important your gutters are to you and your home, let us help you stay safe and protect your property by getting in touch with us about your gutter cleaning and roof repair needs.