Why Gutter Cleaning is Important
In this article, we will discuss why annual or biannual gutter cleanings are an important part of home maintenance and what can happen when gutters are left clogged or uncleaned.
We will cover the following:
- Damages that can occur and the cost associated with them.
- The proper way to clean gutters.
- Best time of year to clean gutters and how often to clean them.
- Other benefits of a proper gutter cleaning.
- Price to clean gutters and costs to the service provider.
Damages that can occur and the cost associated with them
There are numerous issues associated with clogged gutters, with the most common ones being damaged gutters, ceiling damage, leaking foundation, and insect and rodent infestation.
Let’s take a brief look at all four.
1.Damaged gutters can occur when the gutters are packed full of old leaves and debris that the shear weight of the compacted compost and water can cause the gutters to bend and pull away from their mounts. The costs for new gutters start at $7.00 per linear foot for installation alone with an average total cost of $3000. When you consider the cost to replace your gutters start at $7.00 per liner foot for installation alone, the financial investment of gutter cleaning will be substantially lower.
2.The next most common issue is ceiling damage. When gutters and downspouts are clogged, water runoff has no place to go so it can flow behind the gutters and start to rot the facia boards that your gutters are attached to. This in turn allows moisture to enter your home via the rotten boards and start moisture creeping down behind the sheetrock. This moisture behind the walls can also turn into mold. Not only will the sheetrock and facia boards need to be replaced but if mold growth starts, the costs can skyrocket even higher. In the wintertime, water that does not drain properly from the gutters can form ice. This ice can cause ice jams that can cause water to back up underneath the shingles which can then flow under the plywood, that the shingles are attached to and into your attic. Gutters are designed to take the water away from your home and by not cleaning them regularly this could allow water to enter your home. Not only can this cause structural damage, but mold growth can negatively impact your health along with the heath of your family. The average starting costs for mold removal is $2000.00 behind walls which does not include the labor and materials to replace the sheetrock which starts around $2.00 a square foot for labor alone with the average price tag for a typical repair beginning at $1600-$3500.00.
3. The next issue associated with clogged gutters is a leaking foundation. Again, gutters are designed when working properly to take water away from the house. When gutters are clogged and with downspouts that are not working properly, water overflows the gutters and lands next to your foundation instead of away from it. When the ground around your foundation becomes overly saturated, the blocks in your foundation can start to bow or crack along the mortar joints allowing water to enter your basement or crawlspace. The costs for foundation leaks repairs can range from $2000-$7000.00. A professional with the proper equipment will be needed to correctly utilize various water proofing techniques.
4. The last issue with clogged gutters is rodent or insect infestation. Clogged gutters contain lots of debris and broken-down vegetation or compost. The vegetation or compost makes for great bedding and nests for various insects and rodents. As we covered earlier, clogged gutters can cause the facia boards that your gutters are attached to rot. These rotting boards can now become a perfect home and feeding ground for different types of ants. When insects are feeding on the rotten wood, it speeds up the deterioration of the wood even faster. The typical cost to exterminate ants can be anywhere between $80-$500.00 alone. Along with the extermination cost you will accrue; you will also have the cost to replace/repair the damaged materials that we discussed earlier.
The proper way to clean gutters
Cleaning gutters is not a difficult task but comes with some danger. Inevitably you will need a ladder to clean your gutters but depending on the size of your home, you may need anywhere from a step ladder for a ranch style home to a 40ft ladder for three story homes. After finding the proper ladder needed, you can remove most of the debris by hand. If the roof is walkable, a leaf blower or pressure washer with a ball valve is a viable option to remove the leaves, pine needles, and or limestone from the shingles. After the bulk of the material is removed from the gutters, they should then be rinsed down to ensure that all residual material is removed and that they are flowing properly. When your gutters and downspouts are completely cleaned and flowing properly, the gutters will now carry water away from your home as designed.
Best time of year to clean gutters and how often to clean them
The best time to clean your gutters is early winter just after the last of the leaves have fallen. Cleaning the gutters this time of year ensures that they are completely clean and draining properly so that there will be no built-up water to freeze in the gutters and cause ice to back up under your shingles creating water damage. It is also a good idea to make sure your gutters are cleaned early spring before the spring rains can cause backups. The spring cleanings are especially important for homes that have a lot of pine trees, as the needles fall during the winter months. If your home has plenty of pines, it’s a good idea to consider biannual gutter cleanings, once in early December and another cleaning in early March. If no pines are present on your property, scheduling an annual cleaning after all the leaves have fallen should suffice.
Other benefits of a proper gutter cleaning
During your annual or biannual gutter cleanings, there are several things that can be checked during those cleanings that can offer piece of mind for the homeowner. A professional company will also check the condition of your gutters for proper flow and alignment. They will make sure that the gutters are attached properly and that the downspouts are also attached and flowing properly. Along with the functionality of the gutter system, the roof itself can be inspected with any issues such as missing shingles or water damage being reported to the homeowner since the roof area is rarely accessed. If you hire a professional company, these inspections should be included as part of the provided service.
Price to clean gutters and costs to the service provider
The cost of gutter cleaning includes many factors, such as how high the gutters are, how packed they are and how accessible are they. A typical one-story ranch style home starts out around $1.00 per linear foot when the gutters are easily accessible. Often there will be a minimal charge around $150-200.00 to accommodate any overhead costs accrued by the cleaning company such as supplies, gas, insurance and other costs associated with running a legitimate business. When gutters are not easily accessible such as having a tree or another object blocking access or when the roof is not walkable, the total price for service will be increased. For a two-story home, the price will start around $1.50 - $2.00 per linear foot. Again, these prices will fluctuate based on the roof access and the ease of approach. Three-story and larger homes will start at $2.00 per linear foot and up. These homes are generally the costliest because of the dangers involved with the cleaning. In general, you can expect to pay anywhere from $150.00 and up for an initial cleaning. For customers who elect either an annual or biannual cleaning plan, most companies will offer discounts for their reoccurring customers.
These costs may seem high for such a menial task but please remember that there are risks involved and any reputable cleaning company will have unseen costs such as insurance, computer software programs for scheduling jobs and communicating with clients, vehicle maintenance, fuel and associated equipment used to complete the job correctly.
In closing, it is imperative that gutters be cleaned regularly to prevent any unexpected damages to the home, such as water damage, damaged gutters and insect infestation. Cleanings can be done once or twice a year depending on the surrounding vegetation and the cost can vary from $150.00 and up for initial cleanings and can be lowered with annual or biannual contracts. It is also a good idea to find a reputable company that carries liability insurance that will cover any accidents or damages that may occur during the cleaning process. Reputable exterior cleaning companies do this type of work regularly and are accustomed to the dangers involved in the process so it’s unlikely that any accidents will occur but in the off chance that one does, you would want them to be responsible for the cost of any damages and not you or your insurance company. It also is not worth the risk to your personal health to attempt this type of job on your own so unless you are accustomed to working on ladders, roofs and at heights of 10 feet or higher it is recommended that you hire a reputable exterior cleaning company to perform the work.
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