How to Keep Leaves out of Gutters
A Complete Guide On Solving This Age-Old Problem
You probably don't give your gutters much thought, but they play a critical role in protecting your home from the elements. When rain or snowmelt runs off your roof, your gutters collect the water and transport it away from your home. Unfortunately, most gutters also collect leaves, pine needles, shingle granules and any other debris the water happens to be carrying.
Cleaning out all this detritus is a difficult, time-consuming and potentially dangerous task. It's also essential to keep your home protected. Thankfully, we have a few easy tips to help you keep leaves out of your gutters without the fuss.
Prepare Your Gutters
Your roof and gutter system are designed to work together to efficiently keep water away from your home. When your gutters and downspouts get clogged up with leaves, the water has nowhere to go and begins overflowing. Eventually, this can cause water intrusion issues, damage walkways and landscaping features around your home and even lead to costly foundation repairs. Before you begin addressing this issue, ensure that your gutters are totally clean and flowing properly. Check your gutter system for any loose or hanging sections, separated seams or other issues that need to be fixed.
Most of this preparation can't be done from the ground, but it's important to be cautious whenever you're doing work that requires a ladder. More than 500,000 people are injured in ladder-related accidents each year, around 97% of which happen around the home. The potential danger involved in working with a ladder is yet another reason it's important to focus on preventing gutter obstructions and avoiding frequent cleanings.
Trim Your Trees
The trees in your yard may be attractive and provide relaxing shade, but they're also the primary source of trouble for your gutters. Any trees that are near your home are likely to shed debris in the form of leaves, pine needles, twigs or branches. When that debris falls onto your roof, gravity and rain naturally wash it down into your gutters. In some cases, seeds can even mix in with this material and begin to sprout and grow inside your gutter system. Needless to say, that's not a good situation for the health of your gutters.
Removing the offending trees altogether isn't necessary or practical, but some strategic trimming often goes a long way. Take a trip around your home and note any limbs or branches lurking close enough to shower your roof with detritus. You can trim them back yourself if you're confident you can do so safely. Otherwise, a professional landscaping service can help you keep the vegetation around your house under control. Along with using fire-retardant paint for your home, trimming back trees around your roof is also useful in mitigating fire and safety hazards.
Install Gutter Guards
It's time to talk about an unfortunate truth. Leaves and branches and other assorted foreign materials are going to find their way onto your roof. Managing the trees around your home makes a big difference, but roofs seem to have a special ability to attract unwanted debris. In the end, there's little you can do to stop all that trash from ending up in any uncovered gutters attached to your eaves. However, that doesn't mean you need to resign yourself to clogged gutters and frequent cleanings.
The most effective way to repel leaves and keep your gutters flowing freely is to install a gutter guard. A gutter guard is a simple device that can be fitted inside or over the top of your gutters to prevent leaves and other trash from entering. There are several designs and options, but the most effective are typically dome-shaped guards made from tempered and anodized aluminum. These guards keep out most debris while still allowing water to flow unimpeded through the gutter system. In colder climates, some gutter guards can even be fitted with heating cables to help protect against the formation of destructive ice dams.
Keep in mind that your roof itself will still need to be cleaned occasionally after you've installed gutter covers. Most debris should either be blown off by the wind or carried away by rain, but any leaves or branches that stick to your roof surface can eventually cause problems. You should also check the guards periodically to ensure they're in good condition and haven't become obstructed.
If you're like most homeowners, you probably associate your gutters more with anger and frustration than with vital home protection. After all, clambering up a ladder to scoop piles of soggy vegetation every few months probably isn't your preferred way to spend your free time. We hope the tips above can help change that by keeping your gutters flowing and eliminating those pesky piles of leaves. If you've found our guide helpful, or if you've got tips and tricks of your own, don't hesitate to share this article!