Your gutters are your home’s exterior plumbing, diverting excess water away from your house and yard. If gutters become blocked for any reason, the result can be serious structural damage and expensive repairs or claims on your home insurance which could have been avoided.
When it rains, a large volume of water is deposited on your roof that must be drained away in a very short time. Your gutters channel this water along the edges of the roof, through the downpipes and into the drains below. If your gutters are blocked, this water is unable to escape and builds up rapidly.
When water overflows, one of several things are likely to happen:
- It will run onto and over the eaves of your house, back into your roof and then into your ceiling.
- It will splash onto the ground under your gutters, causing erosion of garden beds and water pooling along the walls.
- It will run down the exterior walls of your house and saturate your foundations, which can lead to structural damage over time.
When water collects because of a blocked gutter, the weight of the gutter increases considerably. As your gutter is only attached to the roof by screws and thin strips of metal, eventually the weight will become too much and the gutter will buckle or break. This will cause a deluge of water onto the ground below and possibly damage to your roof as well.
When gutters are blocked, it is usually because of a buildup of leaves and twigs that have blown onto the roof from surrounding trees. This vegetation is the perfect home for a variety of unwanted pests, including spiders, insects and mosquito larvae. If left blocked for long periods, this plant matter will also rot down and produce mould, which can be detrimental to your health.
Gutters full of leaves are also a potential fire hazard. Gutters should be cleaned regularly, particularly in the summer months, as wind-borne sparks or embers from a bushfire can land in them and start fires that will rapidly spread to the rest of your house. Cleaning gutters in bushfire season is one of the most important actions you can take to protect your home.
Cleaning and maintaining your gutters should be a regular part of your home maintenance schedule. If you are not comfortable climbing ladders and doing it yourself, you should have it done by professional roof cleaners.
If your roof is cleaned regularly, a high pressure hosing may be all that is required to dislodge debris from gutters and downpipes. Broken or bent fastenings should be repaired to ensure even flow. Drains should also be cleared to make sure the water can get away once it exits from the downpipes.
A good idea to prevent leaf buildup in your gutters is to install gutter guards, which are made from plastic or steel mesh and which fit neatly over the top of gutters to prevent debris from getting in. They are relatively inexpensive and will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.