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Home Selling Tips: Clean your Gutters

You may not typically give your gutters much thought, but they are one of your home’s more functional pieces. Gutters not only capture water that runs off your roof so it doesn’t cause a downpour on your head, they also funnel water away from your house and foundation that could cause damage. In the spring, many climates have large snowmelts, heavy rain or both, which really puts gutters to work. If yours are clogged and can’t function properly, you, and your home, may be in trouble.

Gutters can fill up with all sorts of junk, including mud and debris from wind or nearby trees. When they are clogged, water can overflow and start running down the exterior walls of your home, or it can run closer to your foundation, soaking under it and causing problems, including erosion of soil and damage to landscaping, seepage into your basement, damage to drywall and insulation and a weakened foundation.

It can also cause various infestations of unwanted guests, including mosquitoes, ants and even termites. “Gutters are made to hold moisture and when they’re not working well, that moisture doesn’t work its way out,” says Mark Richardson, owner of A-1 Rain Gutters of Escondido, California. “Clogged gutters that are wet will attract a lot of insects, including termites.”

Gutters should be cleaned three to four times a year, and should be regularly inspected for problems in between cleanings. Gutter-cleaning can take several hours for a medium-sized home, so if you are preparing to do the job yourself, make sure to allot at least this much time. In addition to clearing debris, clean any guards or screens carefully and check the downspouts to make sure they are clear as well. You should also be sure to make sure that all gutters are securely attached and have not become damaged or weakened by holding too much ice or debris. Loose gutters can change the flow of the water, causing it to overflow or remain stagnant. Your final step in gutter-cleaning is to run some water over your gutters to make sure that the flow is smooth and unobstructed.

If you are one of the many homeowners who finds this level of maintenance daunting or too time-consuming, you have other options. You can always hire a professional company, such as Mark Richardson’s, to maintain your gutters routinely. There is also a product that has gained in popularity because it prevents debris from entering gutters. According to Richardson, “The Gutter Helmet attaches to the roof underneath the shingles or tile and then it connects up over the gutter so [installation] is labor-intensive, but it permanently eliminates the problem.” The Gutter Helmet comes with a transferable lifetime guarantee that you will never have to clean your gutters again. Since the warranty is transferable, it may also become a good selling point when you sell your home. The product is about three times more expensive than regular gutters, about $18 to $22 a foot installed.

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