You may not realize it, but your gutters and downspouts are one of the most crucial elements to keeping your roof (and your home) in good shape and working properly.  Gutters that efficiently move water away from a house are more important than many people realize, especially for homes here in the Twin Cities where we get a lot of rain and snow. That's one of the reasons that at this time of year we periodically remind homeowners to get their gutters cleaned out before winter. Those leaves may look beautiful as they fall, and your kids may enjoy rolling around in the piles in your yard, but what's piling up in your gutters can spell trouble for your home if you don't get those gutters and downspouts cleared out before things freeze. So why are clogged gutters a problem?  What trouble can they cause a home?

Structural Damage Can Result from Clogged Gutters

Gutters and downspouts - a rain handling system - have just one function:  quickly and efficiently moving water off your roof and away from your home.  But in order for them to do that, they have to be properly installed as well as properly maintained.  And part of regular, necessary gutter maintenance is periodic clean-out.  We recommend at least twice a year - once in the fall after the leaves are done dropping, and once in the spring after the last freeze.  (You may also find it helpful to do it at other times, such as after a severe wind or rain storm that blew debris onto your roof.) What can happen if your gutters are clogged? 

The first thing is that water from rain or melting snow will accumulate in the gutters rather than flow out the downspouts.  As the water backs up, it can overflow behind the gutters, soaking the sides of your home and seeping into the ground around your foundation.  That might eventually result in problems in your basement, or a damaged area to your foundation.  Your landscaping may suffer as well.

The other problems result from backed-up water.  It has to go somewhere, so often it is forced up under the edge of your roof.  Then you can expect:

  • Rotted fascia, soffit, and eaves
  • Roof damage
  • Ceiling damage inside your home
And if this happens in the winter, there is another issue:  ice dam formation.

As that snow on your roof melts and flows down into your gutters, if it hits a clog, it builds up and freezes again, creating a frozen 'dam.'  (Icicles hanging from your roof edge and/or gutters are a clear indication this is happening.)  That frozen mess then traps more snow melt as it moves down your home, and that water eventually gets underneath your roof.  Damage to your roof will result, as well as problems with the structure under your roof.  Eventually you're likely to see indications of damage inside your home as well.  Those brown stains on your ceilings could mean water has gotten inside.  Major repairs might be required at that point, such as removal of wet and moldy insulation, ceiling repair, and even structural lumber replacement.

So....avoid those problems and get those gutters cleaned out this fall.  And if you're tired of that chore, talk to us about having a leaf barrier installed over your gutters so that leaf and gunk clean-out can be a thing of the past.

Quarve Contracting, Inc. is a licensed Minnesota roofing company, and we also install seamless steel gutters, siding, and other exterior home improvements.