It might be low on the to-do list, but regularly cleaning your gutters is an essential task when it comes to home maintenance.
Why? Because gutters play an important role in funneling water away from your home. And when they’re blocked, littered with debris or in disrepair, the impacts can extend to the very foundation of your home or put your property at risk of natural disaster and the elements.
Here’s a quick insight into the hidden impacts of blocked gutters and why they are a non-negotiable maintenance task every home owner should undertake.
The role of gutters
Gutters are a feature of every Australian home because they perform a simple but essential function…they catch the water from your roof and funnel it away from your property.
For most metropolitan homes this water is channelled into stormwater, but for about a quarter of the population, gutters also catch and divert water into rainwater tanks for domestic use.
In an Australian climate that’s prone to tropical downpours, storms and dry weather, this is no small domestic task. The state of your gutters can affect everything from the quality of the rainwater you drink from your tank to your risk of bushfire and roof leaks.
So, what happens when your gutters are blocked?
Overflow and flooding
Most people first realise their gutters are full when the water overflows during a rain event. This excess water spills onto the ground, damaging gardens or areas beneath. In heavy rain it can also cause puddles and may even see water entering the property.
It’s important to remember the primary function of a gutter is as a channel. And like any channel, if a gutter is blocked, the water will find a way around it, or simply back up.
When a gutter backs up in heavy downfalls, the water may then flow into the house, damaging everything from ceilings and plasterboard to electrics.
If water is regularly pooling or flowing around the exterior of your property, it has the potential to damage the foundations which can cause very real, very expensive problems for your home.
A common problem people encounter when their gutters are blocked or filled with debris is gutter damage, and this occurs for a couple of reasons.
Sediment or leaf litter in the gutters causes water to be retained. Over time, this sees gutter joins corrode or causes gutters to become so heavy they may begin to sag.
Once gutters sag, the problem is compounded with debris and water pooling in the lowered gutters and causing further damage.
Many pests just love a damp environment and their presence can result in both health risks and structural damage.
For example, moist soil attracts termites. If blocked gutters are causing regular pools of water outside your property this offers a potential gateway for this devastating pest.
Meanwhile, pooled water within your gutters or around your home provides the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.
In dry and rural areas, full gutters also pose a bushfire risk. This is a particular threat during the hot summer months because dry leaf litter provides the ideal environment for bushfire embers to settle and ignite leaf litter.
Around a quarter of the Australian population relies on a rainwater tank as their main supply of household water, and this water is channelled into tanks via your gutters. When gutters are blocked or filled with debris, it not only impacts the water quality, but can also see this valuable resource diverted elsewhere.
Cleaning your gutters
Every home owner should be looking to clean their gutters at least twice a year, but in many cases it’s prudent to check your gutters more regularly.
If your home features overhanging trees, is located in a tropical climate prone to downpours, or is on tank water, gutters may need to be cleaned as regularly as every three to four months.
Gutter-Vac is a national company proudly offering the highest quality technicians in the gutter cleaning industry. Each of our technicians is equipped with specialised training in Gutter-Vac’s vacuum technology and provides quality customer service with an emphasis on safety.