Late September in Nebraska means a few things are inevitable: the weather is as unpredictable as the Husker offensive line (too soon?), everything everywhere is flavored with pumpkin, and the leaves are starting to change color and drop. And when they drop, they don’t really discriminate about where…on your sidewalks, lawn, and especially in your gutters.
A pile of leaves is one thing when it’s in your yard for the kids to jump in or make into a fort. But when they turn your gutters into an American Ninja Warrior-style obstacle course for the fall rains to try to navigate, it’s a problem.
First, let’s review what gutters do and why they’re important. In Nebraska, rain is common. A one-inch rainfall is a lot, but not terribly unusual here. On an average-size roof, that would amount to nearly 2,000 gallons of water gushing into your yard and, worse, onto your house’s walls and foundation.
This is where the gutters save the day. Instead of letting a deluge wreak havoc on your home, the gutters serve as the traffic directors, moving water from your roof to the downspouts and out away from your home. This protects your siding, foundation, basement, and walls from losing mass and minerality (when they’re corroded by water) and from growing mold and algae, which are hazardous not only to your house structure but also to your health.
So yes: your gutters are key to your home’s design.
Keeping them functioning properly can be as easy as it is crucial! When sticks, leaves (pine needles are especially notorious), and other debris piles up in your gutters, the water has no place to go except over the sides, and then there’s no real use for the gutters other than holding a collection of molding tree bits. Later, when things start to get icy, wet frozen debris adds more weight than gutters are designed to hold (especially with snow in there too!) and can cause premature sagging or pulling from their anchors on the roof.
So the best thing you can do to extend the life of your gutters is just to keep them clean. Depending on your landscaping and neighborhood, this may be something you need to do only a couple times a year (in areas without many trees) or a couple times a month (in areas with lots of mature trees).
So how can you keep your gutters clean? Here are a few ways:
- The cheapest option is to clean out your gutters yourself. You can purchase some inexpensive tools if you don’t have them (a scoop, gloves, a plastic bucket — or even use plastic sacks — and a good hose), and make sure you have a sturdy ladder. However, this can be a tough task, and requires climbing up to your gutters, which some people aren’t comfortable doing.
- Contracting a gutter cleaning service is another option. Look up reputable companies, and ask for references and a free quote for your home. If you’re feeling ambitious but your gutters are in bad shape, you can schedule a one-time cleaning to get you started and maintain them yourself.
- Have gutter guards installed. These are professionally installed on top of the gutters, either as a solid helmet or a screen, and serve as a filter to keep debris out of the gutter while allowing water in. You may still need to perform some maintenance to make sure they’re staying clear — but the amount of time spent working on your gutters is cut down exponentially with a gutter guard system. White Castle Roofing installs these year-round for customers who just don’t want to spend large amounts of time properly maintaining their gutters.
Whatever your choice, make sure you build gutter maintenance into your home budget (whether that’s budgeting your time or money), and you’ll save yourself a lot of time — and green — by the time the pumpkin lattes get shelved for another year!