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How often should you clean your gutters? We get that question all the time. In fact, we hear that very question so often we thought it best to write about it.

I think the reason why consumers are confused how often to clean their gutters is due to debris shedding off trees multiple times a year. Because of this, gutter cleaning should be done at least a few times a year in the spring and fall to account for the timing of debris drops and weather circumstances.

What Happens if You Don’t Clean Your Gutters?

Not cleaning your gutters is a bad thing. I knew a guy who owned a Camaro and he drove it for 100K miles and never got the oil changed. He only drove it for 100K miles because the engine blew up. It wasn’t until a disaster happened that he really understood the need for maintenance.

Your gutters are the same way. If you fail to keep them clean, or protected, they get clogged with all kinds of debris. The debris not only clogs the gutter and downspouts, but debris can work its way underground, and that’s where the real problems begin. It was stated earlier that the water management system is your gutters, downspouts, and drainpipes to the sewer. If any of these three are neglected, water damage is all but certain.

How Often Should You Really Clean Your Gutters?

Our recommendation for how many times a home or business owner should have their gutters cleaned is 3 times. A good rhythm is one spring gutter cleaning, an early fall gutter cleaning and finally a late fall or early winter gutter cleaning. That’s three times a year at minimum. Often, weather events create additional scenarios where gutter cleaning is needed.

Most people think that gutter cleaning is a springtime chore. However, debris can build up in gutters at any time of year. In fact, gutter cleaning in different seasons can be important for maintaining the health of your gutters and your home.

Fall Gutter Cleaning

Fall is the most popular time of the year to clean gutters. Most tree debris visibly drop into your gutters from late-September through mid-December, so cleaning them makes sense later in autumn. The trick for fall gutter cleaning is all about timing. Each season is different, and the leaf drop never occurs at the exact same time each year, so making sure the weather is warm enough and the leaves are down always proves to be tricky.

To remedy this, many customers get a total of two fall gutter cleans. A clean in October and then a final late-November or early-December clean works best. At The Gutter Boys, we offer discounts for customers who like to get multiple cleans in one season. Sometimes customers are too late, and their gutter cleaning gets pushed into the winter months.

If that happens, they must wait for workable breaks in the weather to get the job done. Some customers prefer this because they want every single leaf down before they get the gutters cleaned. In the end, it boils down to a mix of weather, debris drop, and preference.Best time to clean your gutters

Spring Gutter Cleaning

Spring is also a very popular time for gutter cleaning, but for different reasons. While the amount of debris during the spring months is considerably less than Autumn, seasonal rainfall is typically much greater.

Even the smallest obstruction causes a clog in the downspouts, like a few leaves, a ball or bird nest, so overflowing gutters during the spring months get attention quick. Many companies just clean the gutters but fail to address the downspouts with a flush. This is pointless because clean downspouts are how the rainwater is managed away from the home.

Water goes into the gutters, travels through the downspouts and is routed into the storm sewer or on splash blocks. If any part of the three-part process mentioned above is neglected, big problems occur. That’s why spring is the second most popular time of the year to get gutters cleaned. There is no better reminder than your very own Niagara Falls spilling over your gutters to spur you to action!

Summer Gutter Cleaning

The only stuff that falls during the summer is debris blown down from thunderstorms. Sure, a Willow or over shedding Pine tree can serve as exceptions, but generally there isn’t too much “tree trash” during the summer. Every few summers we have an event that blows the paradigm up though. A powerful thunderstorm with wind and hail gets a log of debris down fast, and after these events, gutters are the first thing that needs addressed.

Last year a storm blew through Ohio, and it was as if the trees in a few suburbs were put into a blender and deposited on roofs and gutters. It was a mess. Gutter cleaning calls came in from all over. A lot of customers will ask us, “how do I know if my gutters need cleaning?”

Well, if they have not been cleaned in a while, that’s a sign. Also, if you visibly see debris in the gutters or water overflows every time it rains, those are two telltale signs it’s time for a good gutter cleaning.  Again, the summer is not typical for gutter cleaning, but it happens.

Winter Gutter Cleaning

Winter gutter cleaning is our least busy time of year, and by a long shot. It makes sense because the weather is usually too cold and snowy to complete gutter cleans. It’s not for a lack of effort either, as we tried heat guns and all sorts of remedies to get our gutter cleaners working during the winter. It’s just simply not safe or effective.

During winter, we simply must wait for workable breaks in the weather that allow our crews to clean. And one warm day will not usually do the trick, as you need three or four warm days to melt snow and thaw the ice in gutters. Most people understand that a frozen thanksgiving turkey needs a few days to thaw, well, so do gutters during the winter months.

As I said earlier, some customers want to push their gutter cleaning into the winter to make sure every single, solitary leaf is down, but many customers are just too late in scheduling. Either way, The Gutter Boys clean gutters year-round, but again, just need to make sure the conditions are safe and effective for gutter cleaning.

How Do you Know if Your Gutters Need Cleaning?

One telltale sign is if you see leaves or other debris spilling over the edges of the gutters. Another is if you notice water pooling around the base of your home after a rainstorm. If you see either of these signs, it's time to clean out your gutters.

Having a working relationship with a responsive and service minded company like The Gutter Boys is ideal. Sometimes, time is of the essence. We get calls from panicking homeowners that water is overflowing into their home and getting the problem resolved is all they care about.

Responsiveness is key in this industry. We accommodate emergencies or regularly planned maintenance. The 3 gutter cleans model is ideal for homeowners who want their gutters cleaned regularly and have decided gutter protection is not for them. Ultimately, our stance is that gutter protection is best, but the right product must be used or more work will be created. Click here for more information on our Nation’s Best Gutter Guards.

Importance Of Downspout Flushing

To get downspout flushing, or not get downspout flushing with gutter cleaning…that was the question posed by William Shakespeare. No, not really! Nevertheless, we do get asked this very question thousands of times a year, and the answer is always the same. Yes. When you are having your gutters cleaned, you should always have the downspouts flushed thoroughly. To me (Ken Wilson with The Gutter Boys), getting your gutters cleaned, but leaving the downspouts unchecked simply doesn’t make sense.

Gutters and Downspouts need to be cleaned and flushed at least 2x a year (spring and fall)

IT’S A COST SAVER, BUT IT CAN BE COSTLY!

Some companies do not emphasize the importance of downspout flushing. Sure, saving a couple of bucks for a bare-bones clean seems nice, but leaving the downspouts packed with debris surely will lead to much larger issues down the road. We have heard of companies “reaming” or “snaking” the downspouts, but this isn’t a definitive way to know whether the downspout is clear or not. The best, and by that I mean the worst, story I have heard is a company that trained their workers to knock on the downspouts to see if they are full. That’s pretty pathetic. Again, the only way to know with certainty that the downspouts are free flowing is to use water. There is no shortcut to doing this properly.

IT SEEMS LIKE OVERKILL

I will always remember the client in Westlake, OH who was hesitant about having us come clean their gutters and downspouts. They admitted on the phone that they couldn’t see any debris in the gutters from their vantage point. If it wasn’t for mini Niagara Falls occurring several places around their home, they wouldn’t have even called. Our crews got to the home and the gutters were indeed spotless, but we still checked each and every downspout just to be sure. Guess what we found? 11 out of the 12 downspouts around the home were packed full of decaying debris. The customer was happy to have 12 free-flowing downspouts rather than Niagara Falls, and we were happy one more customer realized the importance of regular gutter cleaning and downspout flushing.

Do gutter guards work? That question is not easy to answer because there are many different types of guards on the market, hundreds actually. Each guard has a design that puts it into a respective category. One of the most important maintenance tasks for any home is keeping the gutters clean. Clogged gutters can cause a multitude of problems, including water damage to the roof and foundation, insect infestations, and even flooding. As a result, many homeowners are looking for ways to make gutter cleaning easier. One popular solution is gutter guards. Gutter guards are designed to keep leaves and other debris from entering the gutter, making it easier to keep the gutters clean. But do they really work?

Types of Gutter Guards

There are five different types of gutter guards to consider using: Wire/Plastic mesh, Surface Tension, Flat deck, Sponges/Brushes, and Stainless Steel Micro-Mesh. Finding the best gutter guard for your home is essential to proper water drainage and avoiding costly damages. There are many types of guards available, each with their own features which could be suited towards certain needs depending on what you want out of it! We will detail each of these types of guards and their pros and cons.

 Keep reading to learn about the types of gutter guards and how they can impact your responsibilities as an home or business owner.

Micro mesh guards

Wire/Plastic Mesh

Wire/plastic mesh guards are prolific; they are everywhere. You can find them at your big box home improvement store and virtually every roofer offers them when doing a new roof. These guards are flimsy and provide little to no protection. They may work for a year or two, but then the guards begin to fall off the gutters, or they fail in various ways. Cheap metal and plastic guards usually allow too much debris in, and they are not secured well. Also, they lack a frame, so the guards bend and break under the weight of snow and ice. We recommend you stay away from these guards. Although they are inexpensive, they typically cause costly issues and allow a false sense of protection.

Surface Tension

Surface tension guards were the hottest thing back in the 1980s when they came out. The idea was to keep most of the debris out by rolling it over the gutters via gravity. Water is sucked into the gutter system by the surface tension created. These guards tend to be the most expensive on the market, because they will install as a one-piece system, or they involve a good amount of construction. There are a few big problems with helmets or bull-nose-style guards. When the surface gets dirty, the guards don’t work as well, sending water cascading over. Also, they tend to create large icicles due to the profile of the gutter being raised. Finally, the flimsy metal does not hold up well when heavy snow and ice sits on them during the winter months.

Do Gutter guards work
Types of gutter guards

Flat Deck

Flat deck gutter protection is just that, flat metal or plastic with milled holes. These guards usually screw onto the front lip of the gutter and rest on the spikes or hidden gutter hangers. The open area yield (the amount of area open for water to flow through) is low. typically, over 90% of the gutter is covered. When looking at pure gutter protection, this is great, because very little debris enters into the gutter system. But that’s only half of the battle. Water flow is another issue though. For the same reason debris has a difficult time entering into the gutters, so does water. The major complaint about flat deck gutter systems is the water overshooting the guards and causing damage to the home or landscape.

Sponges/Brushes

Sponges and brush types of gutter protection are interesting. The concept is cool, fill the gutter void to essentially keep debris out and let water flow. The guards are usually pretty inexpensive and are easy to install. Like wire/plastic mesh guards, they work for the first year or so, but they become mucked up with debris and look very unsightly. After a couple of years, they completely defeat the purpose of the gutter system with constant water overflow and debris clogs. Of any gutter guard, these require the highest amount of maintenance. With so much maintenance, traditional gutter cleaning ends up being cheaper and easier.

Gutter guards

Stainless Steel Micro-Mesh

The last category is the micro-mesh gutter guard. These guards are the newest on the market. They combine lightweight frames with micro-mesh to filter the debris. We highly recommend these guards, but not all are created equal. Some mesh guards do not utilize the recommend lightweight aluminum frame. They use plastic, which warps over time. Also, mesh types vary. 440-micron mesh sizing works best. Certain brands either have too tight/too loose of a mesh weave. Optimally sized micro-mesh is what keeps out debris and allows for maximum water flow. One of the best innovations though is the raised S Curve design. This allows for even greater water throughput while making debris self shedding a lot easier.

Check out the video as Ken Wilson of The Gutter Boys details the best guard on the market.

 

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