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10 Indicators Your Gutters Need Cleaning (Homeowners Guide)

January 8, 2021

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If you’re a homeowner, how do you know if your gutters need cleaning? This is a vital question to ask, as clean, clog-free gutters are far more important than homeowners might realize!

Before you go another month or, worse yet, a full year without professional gutter cleaning, note why gutters are important for your home’s overall condition and why it’s good to ensure they’re always clean and clog-free. You can then note 10 signs that gutters need cleaning, and why you need to leave this work to the pros!

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Why Gutters Need Cleaning?

Before you check out some indicators that gutters need cleaning, it’s helpful to know the function of gutters and why it’s so important to keep them clean in the first place! First note that gutters don’t run exactly parallel across a home’s exterior span but are tilted just slightly toward attached downspouts.

  • Gutters trap rainwater as well as melting snow and ice running off the roof; the tilt of gutters helps direct that water to those nearby downspouts. You might notice that downspouts have a slightly protruding end piece that directs all that water away from the home.
  • Without gutters and downspouts, rainwater and melting snow and ice would run over the home’s exterior walls and then pool along its foundation. When rainwater runs down a home’s walls and collects around the foundation, it softens brick and concrete, leading to leaks and interior water damage. Rainwater also means unsightly water streaks along walls and exterior windows!
  • Along with rain and melting snow and ice, gutters also trap and collect storm debris, leaves, twigs, and other residues. When these residues build up, gutters then clog, resulting in standing water or rainwater washing over gutter sides.
  • Roof eaves and overhanging shingles and tiles absorb water standing in gutters; this means damaged shingles and tiles as well as mold, mildew, moss, and algae growth. Water that washes over the sides of clogged gutters can mean expensive water damage including foundation cracks and leaks.

To avoid all this costly damage, it’s vital that homeowners keep gutters clean and clog-free. Leaf guards, or screens you cut and fit over the gutters, helps block debris from building up in those pieces. Even with these guards, however, a homeowner should schedule regular gutter and downspout cleaning for their home!

10 Indicators Your Gutters Need Cleaning

 Now that you know a bit more about why it’s vital you keep gutters clean, note 10 signs that indicate your gutters need cleaning.

1. Algae on the roof

As gutters clog, rainwater begins to collect in their trenches where it’s then absorbed by roof eaves, shingles, and tiles. This water encourages algae growth along roofing surfaces, and this algae can loosen shingles and tiles easily, leading to roof damage.

2. Mold, moss, and mildew on the roof and exterior walls

As rainwater and other moisture washes over the home’s gutters, it clings to exterior walls and roof eaves. This added moisture encourages mold, mildew, and moss. If you notice these irritants on your home’s exterior roofs, especially if they grow along the home’s upper areas near the gutters, don’t simply wash them away but have the gutters checked for needed cleaning as well!

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3. Water stains on outside walls

As rainwater washes down outside walls, it leaves behind unsightly water marks and streaks. That rainwater holds air pollution residues and other dirt and grime that cling to walls, creating black or gray discoloration. Don’t assume your walls just need washing or are discoloring due to age but check your home’s gutters if you notice theses stains on your home’s outside walls.

4. Water stains and streaks on outside glass

It’s not unusual to see water streaks and what appear to be hard water stains on outside glass after several years of exposure to storms, dust, and other such damage. However, if you notice what appears to be excessive amounts of dirt, thick dust, and layers of hard water stains, it’s time to check the gutters! As with outside walls, rainwater washing over the gutters often runs down exterior glass, leading to stains and other discoloration.

5. Softened brick, corrosion on siding

As rainwater runs down a home’s exterior walls, those building materials absorb that moisture, leading to softened or crumbling brick, rusted siding, and other such damage. Water also seeps into small cracks and holes along those walls, risking interior water damage and wood rot along a home’s framing.

6. Muddy areas close to the home

Downspouts direct water away from the home so that it runs toward the street and nearby drains. When gutters and downspouts are clogged or undersized, that water then collects around the base of the home, leading to muddy soil and wilted landscaping.

If your home’s lawn is overly moist in general, it might be time to have its grade or slope checked, to ensure proper water runoff. However, if you notice problem spots around the home’s base, or directly under the roof, there’s a good chance the gutters need cleaning!

7. Insects

Insects often collect over standing water, as they need hydration as much as they need food! When gutters clog and allow rainwater to collect, you might notice swarms of insects over the gutters and along their undersides.

8. “Tiger stripes” along gutter undersides

“Tiger stripes” refers to unsightly streaks that form along the undersides of gutters. As gutters clog and rainwater washes over their sides, that water takes dirt and mud with it, leaving behind unsightly streaks and stains along the gutters themselves.

9. Unpleasant odors from the gutters

As gutters clog and rainwater builds up, mold and mildew then form, as said. Clogged gutters also hold bird droppings and other debris that washes off the roof, all of which can create some very unpleasant odors! If you notice a musty odor or other unpleasant smells coming from the area of the home’s gutters, it’s time to have them checked for needed cleaning.

10. Visual inspections

While homeowners should exercise extreme caution about getting up on ladders, it is helpful to inspect a home’s gutters visually at least once every year. If you notice thick mud, dirt, layers of dust, storm debris, and other residues in the gutters, it’s time to schedule pressure washing services for your home!

How Often Do Gutters Need to Be Cleaned?

Professional gutter cleaning every year is often sufficient, but this schedule might need adjusting for your property. For example, mature trees, especially if branches hang over the house, often mean leaves, twigs, seeds, moss, sap, acorns, and other debris ending up in the home’s gutters. If you have lots of trees on your property, check the home’s gutters for needed cleaning every few months.

Sand also builds up in a home’s gutters and causes clogs. If you live near a water body or in a desert area, it’s vital you check the gutters monthly for needed cleaning. Nearby production facilities, busy highways and airports, and construction sites can also mean thick layers of airborne dust and dirt ending up in the home’s gutters and more frequent cleaning.

What Happens If You Never Clean Your Gutters?

Gutters don’t necessarily always clog; whether or not they stay clean and clear depends on their size, quality of installation, local weather conditions, and the like. However, if storm debris and other residues build up in your home’s gutters and you fail to clean them, this can mean costly water damage along the home’s exterior walls and foundation, as well as damaged roof shingles or tiles.

Fixing cracks and leaks along walls and the home’s foundation as well as replacing water-damaged shingles is often far costlier than gutter cleaning! Clean gutters also means less risk of mold and mildew forming along the home’s exterior, as said, for improved outdoor air quality and a healthier environment overall.

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The Best Month to Clean Gutters

As with all other household chores, the month you should clean your home’s gutters depends on your local area and overall property makeup! In areas with heavy summertime storms, ensure the gutters are clean in spring, so that they’re less likely to hold thick debris as those storms pass through. Springtime cleaning is also an excellent choice for anyone who uses their outdoor space in summertime and needs to remove mold, mildew, pollen, and other debris.

If your area doesn’t necessarily see lots of summertime storms, you might clean the gutters in the fall, to remove any dirt and debris that builds up during summer months. Late fall cleaning also removes leaves and sap that trees lose during the autumn season, for clean and clear gutters.

Can I Clean My Gutters Myself?

There are several reasons why a homeowner would do well to leave gutter cleaning to a power washing contractor rather than trying to DIY this job. One vital reason to avoid gutter cleaning is that being on a ladder is dangerous in any circumstance, but trying to juggle cleaning tools and equipment makes it even more so!

Using too much pressure from a power washing during gutter cleaning can also mean pulling those gutters away from their connectors or pulling them out of their proper angle so that water then builds up without running to nearby downspouts.

A homeowner should also remember that gutter cleaning is often messy and more cumbersome than you might realize! A professional power washing contractor knows the right tools and techniques to keep splatter to a minimum and avoid getting messy rinse water on the home’s other surfaces during gutter cleaning.

The Average Cost of Gutter Cleaning

Most contractors charge between $1 and $2 per linear foot, meaning the length of gutters. On average, a homeowner might expect to pay around $150 for gutter cleaning; this price might increase if you also need their undersides cleaned or other such services.

No matter your expected gutter cleaning costs, however, remember that this price is often far less than the cost of wall and foundation repair, as said! Your gutter cleaning costs are also an excellent investment in your property’s outdoor air quality, and in your home’s overall curb appeal.

A Word From Our Team

Middletown Power Washers is happy to provide this information to our readers and we hope you found it helpful. If you’re still asking, how do you know if you need gutter cleaning, or would like to schedule pressure washing services in Middletown, give us a call! We provide a wide range of pressure washing services at prices you can afford, and stand behind all our work with a customer satisfaction guarantee you can trust.


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