Autumn is thought by some to be the most beautiful of the seasons. The changing of the leaves from green to gold, orange and red produces a bright splash of color to the scenery, and dried leaves crunching underfoot can bring joy to people of all ages. But these leaves can also clog your gutters and cause damage to your home if you are not careful. For tips avoiding expensive repairs, check out our Ultimate Guide to preventing leaf damage and maintaining your gutters this fall.
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Many homeowners in the Chicagoland area experience problems with damaged roofs and clogged gutters during the autumn months. An abundance of leaves on your house and in your gutters can potentially lead to many expensive damages to your home. This is why we’ve put together this ultimate guide to leaf removal and gutter maintenance. We hope that by following these tips this autumn, you can get some leaf relief and avoid spending money on fixing preventable damages.
Cleaning leaves from your roof may seem like a waste of time. After all, more are going to fall and most will eventually blow away anyway, right? Unfortunately, ignoring the problem of excess leaves on your roof can result in the need for expensive repairs. Removing large clumps of leaves quickly is important for roof protection and the prevention of water damage.
When leaves clump on your roof, they tend to collect water. As home improvement writer Jeanne Huber explains, “If you have a simple peaked roof surrounded by low landscaping, your roof probably stays clear of leaves on its own. But if the roof is more complicated or if towering trees are nearby, piles of leaves probably collect in roof valleys or near chimneys. If you don’t remove them, they will trap moisture and gradually decompose, allowing moisture to accumulate in your roof — or worse, create fertile ground for weeds to grow.”
This trapped moisture can cause asphalt roofing shingles to rot, thus enabling water to leak into your home. Furthermore, an abundance of wet leaves can put uneven pressure on your roof, and this, in turn, can cause the beams to weaken. It is therefore in your best interest to remove large clumps of leaves from your roof whenever you notice them.
There is nothing you can do to prevent leaves from falling in the autumn; but, if you have trees situated close to your home, you should take care to trim back any branches that may overhang your roof. This can reduce the number of leaves that land on your house and in your gutters. Additional benefits of trimming back these branches, as pointed out in an article on Angie’s List, are that your roof will be less likely to suffer damage from falling branches during a major storm, and it will receive more sunlight, thereby preventing the growth of moss and algae.
If there is a large quantity of wet leaves clinging to your roof, it is important that they be cleaned off. You can do this a number of different ways:
Without proper prevention and maintenance, gutters can clog. Clogged gutters may nullify your home’s entire drainage systems and cause water damage to the interior, exterior and even the foundation of your house. These problems can be serious and very expensive to repair.
In his article Gutter Cleaning Tips to Avoid Major Repairs, roofing expert Tom Kraeutler explains that clogged gutters can lead to cracked foundations, rotten wood, leaking roofs, cracked driveways and even slippery sidewalks. Your gutter system is designed to draw water off, and away from, your home; so if it is not functioning properly, water can pool around your house. In the winter, this pooled water can freeze and lead to icy walkways, which present a hazard to your family and guests.
The most important thing you can do to prevent build-up in your gutters is to clean them out periodically. You can either do this using a window brush while standing on the ground, by hand while standing on a ladder, or by paying a contractor to do the work for you. Whatever method you use for cleaning gutters, it is important that you keep safety as your top priority.
If you have a number of leaf-bearing trees around your home or if your gutters are high and hard to get to safely, you may want to consider having gutter guards installed. Though they are not a perfect solution to this problem, they can help to prevent buildup of damage-causing debris. There are a number of different types of gutter guards on the market.
Rosalind Jackson of How Stuff Works lists and explains your options, including:
It is best to speak with a gutter and roofing expert for help with determining which type of gutter guard is best suited to your house.
Of course, as we mentioned earlier, gutter guards are a good solution, but they are not a perfect solution. In her article Pros & Cons of Using Gutter Guards, Lynnette Walczak of The Fun Times Guide offers a list of advantages and disadvantages of using gutter covers on your home’s water drainage system.
Among the advantages that make gutter guards a great investment are:
However, Walczak also lists a number of disadvantages that you should be aware of before purchasing a gutter guard system for your home. These include:
Cleaning gutters isn’t a fun job, but it’s a necessary one. Tom Kraeutler recommends that you go about it as follows:
Excessive leaves can cause a lot of problems for Chicagoland homeowners, but leaf accumulation on your roof and in your gutters can be easily prevented through maintenance. If you notice an abundance of leaves piled on your roof or if your gutters are not draining as well as they used to, it is important that you try to remedy the situation as quickly and as safely as possible. By keeping your roof and gutters clear of heavy leaf accumulation now, you can save yourself the cost of expensive repairs later.