When to clean your gutters?Posted on 2023-12-28 by Zsolt Katai
When to do gutter maintenance?
A simple question, yet asked by property owners so many times. Some have a definitive answer to it: when I have funds, when the leaves have fallen, when the gutters are full, etc. .
While pressure washing and roof moss removal have a season, even gutter repair seem to be the strongest in the rainy season, and many think window cleaning is only for the “spring cleaning” or for the summer (winter or fall is just as justified), gutter cleaning is continuous though not without ebb and flow as all things usually.
My simple answer, and one some may hate me for it, is that the best time to do it is before it’s too late. Now I know it’s a generality and begs further explanation but it is nonetheless true: it may very well be when the leaves have fallen around your home, or when everything is dry, or you have gone through trial and error and know when it is just the right time to avoid overflows. In other words there is not a single, perfect time for everyone. There are many factors: surrounding tree coverage, what kind of trees (perennial or annual), what kind of debris do you get (pine cones, moss, large leaves, roof sediment, small leaves, branches, etc.), what kind of roof do you have, how old is that roof? And the list goes on. But one can always figure it out by trial and error and while I’m not a fan of negatives sometimes it’s easier to determine what to avoid in order to describe something, hence my simple answer: before it’s too late!
When is it too late?
If the gutter system is overflowing you’ve waited too long. A whole garden is growing in your gutter channels, it is way too late. Part of the gutter is falling off due to the weight of the debris is definitely far too late.
We can generalize and say at least once every 12 months is reasonable to have it done. Again, it’s general but a good rule of thumb. If you live in a veritable forest then definitely need it more. If your roof is old then likely also though if it’s really old then the roof should be replaced, period. You don’t want chunks of the roof ending up in your gutter system.
Some areas get a lot of moss spores which can also be a factor and not only for roof moss removal.
Construction next door can factor in as well. Having had a re-roofing done generally means roofing debris in the gutters – 19 out of 20 I’d say, no matter if the roofer says it was cleaned out, sorry roofers, no prejudice only personal experience.
Another good view point to take is: don’t wait for emergencies, be pro-active and head off overflows. Those can be the most “deadly” creating leaks into the foundation or basement or even upper floors.
Recently had an interesting experience, not saying this is a regular one but it’s a good, instructive story to demonstrate that almost anything can happen so be prepared: a downpipe appeared overflowing/plugged. It was indeed full of water which slowly could dissipate so could sneak by any normal gutter cleaning but in heavy rain it was apparent to the residents of the unit especially that they had a leak into their unit the previous year right after the freeze, when the ice started melting heavily. So I investigated and my finding was the wildest so far: the pipe was going nowhere. The downpipes either empty onto the ground or into a drain tile (under the ground piping often leading into the city sewers). This one appeared to go into a drain tile but in fact it was just stuffed into the ground and nowhere to go for the water other then slowly dissipate or back all the way up. It took considerable effort to pull it out of the ground as it had solid, compacted soil inside at the bottom plus a web of roots holding it, as well. Then another considerable time period was spent to literally chisel out the soil and roots from the bottom elbows of this pipe. After some sweating - and swearing, let’s be honest – I managed to free Willy and prevent another leak-in and insurance claim for the family.
This just shows how wild things can get sometimes. Most times, of course, it’s much more straight forward and with decent observation you can spot the timing needed for your gutter maintenance.
One thing I would never recommend is to time it to your financial condition. Believe me, an overflow or leak-in can be much-much more costly than any gutter cleaning.
Here’s another key factor that might be the most overlooked: consider the companies’ schedule. Businesses tend to get overbooked in the rainy season, when “everybody” is waiting for the leaves to fall then they phone / email their gutter cleaning company (or just any company) and expect them to show up the next week or the next few days. That would require such foresight, organization and flexibility all at once from the part of any business that is just impossible if they’re doing well.
Thus your pro-activeness comes to play once again: give them plenty of advance notice, get yourself into their schedule well ahead (once you figured out roughly when do you need the service), even a month or longer ahead.
I consider this my constant educational responsibility towards my clients and many are getting around and hopefully I will reach more with this little writing. It doesn’t matter to me if you are in my clientele or not, it’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned. Your gutter cleaning will appreciate your thoughtfulness and may as well your wallet.
Think ahead, think in things that are yet to come and you will have so much less headache and less unexpected expenses, not to mention so much more good times in general as really this can be applied to all aspects of life.
Will we think of everything possible? No! But we can always tick one more thing off our list and keep improving. We will never be perfect but that shouldn’t stop us from striving toward it.
Here’s for a more perfect ourselves and a Happy New Year! Cheers!