Clean Gutters: First Line of Defense Against Storm Water Damage

Iowa’s Gorgeous Leaves of Fall No Friend of Gutters

The leaves of an Iowa fall are gorgeous, a falling rainbow of colors and a stunning marking of the changing of seasons and times in Midwestern America.

They also can be pure hell on a home’s most essential water drainage system. 

The Hawkeye State is home to an estimated 1.1 billion trees, according to the United States Forest Service. That wowing statistic means the Hawkeye State will also be home to hundreds of billions of falling leaves this autumn. When left unattended to clog up gutters, leaves – mixed with twigs and other debris – can force water to flow over the sides of gutters, damage foundation plantings and compromise your home’s foundation itself.

As beautiful as the season is, this is no time of year to take your gutters for granted.

“As the first line of defense against storm water damage, gutters play a vital role in the infrastructure of just about any home,” Bob Vila.com’s Caitlin Castelaz writes. 

Decaying leaves left unattended in gutters is a recipe for major, expensive trouble. Throw heavy fall rains into the mix and disaster can quickly ensue. Trust us, you don’t want to see the finished product.

“Leaves essentially brew, like tea, in outstanding water in your gutters,” Angie’s List notes. “The next rain can wash that leaf-tinted, stagnant water out of your gutter, down the gutter front, and onto your home’s exterior walls. The ugly blotchy stains can be challenging to get off your gutters and siding.”

Unlike baseball cards or stamps, leaf gutter collections only depreciate in value with age and increase in their ability to create water flow migraine headaches for your gutter system. Remember, your gutter system controls the flow of rainwater from the rooflines. It’s your home’s sentinel, protecting your roof, walls, foundation and landscape. 

Let rotting leaves move into your gutters and you may soon be watching an ugly seasonal transformation of sagging gutters, mold growth, wet basements, a leaky roof or water damage to the interior or exterior of your home. Did we mention the rodents and other nasty pets that may be moving in? Come winter, clogged gutters can lead to ice dams, which cause water to pool and eventually seep into the home. 

Experts recommend cleaning gutters twice a year – in the spring and fall. With the Hawkeyes on ice until late October this year, there really is no reason not to take a Saturday afternoon and clean leaves out of your gutters. 

Here’s Our Sure Step Guide to Clean Gutters:

1-Determine if Gutters Should Be Replaced, Repaired or Cleaned: Sagging gutters are a surefire sign of a drainage system that is well past retirement age. Gutters with visible pools of water and mold, water marks or water damage and paint damage and rust need to be repaired before they face the coming cold and freezing wrath of winter. 

2-Clean in Dry Weather: Pulling out wet leaves out of gutters is nobody’s idea of fun, not even a home repair masochist. Allow a few dry days before you clean out your gutters to allow debris to dry out.

3-Stabilize Your Ladder: Don’t start your gutter cleaning on shaky ground. Remember, the U.S. sees 500,000 ladder falls annually, 164,000 of those tumbles result in Emergency Room visits, according to the World Health Organization. Stabilize your ladder on firm, even ground before you go to work.

4-Thorough Cleaning: View your gutters as a highway that needs to be clear of all potential dangers. Using heavy rubber gloves, a gutter trowel, hose, garbage bags and putty knife (if needed):

  • Remove all debris from your gutters and downspout
  • Reseal and tighten gutter systems as necessary
  • Test the gutters to ensure proper flow
  • Visually inspect the roof and gutter system

Autumn is a beautiful time of the year, but also an essential time of the year for all homeowners to spend some time in their gutters. For a clean, leaf-free gutter system means a dry house and priceless homeowner piece of mind.

“A properly functioning gutter system protects your home from water damage by draining water from the roof and funneling it away from the house,” Bob Vila.com’s Donna Boyle Schwartz stresses.

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