Everything You Need to Know about Rain Gutters

What are Rain Gutters?

Rain gutters divert water from a roofing system thereby preventing water from running off the edge of the roof. Rain gutters are usually semi-circular or “U”-shaped troughs fabricated from aluminum, steel, vinyl, or copper, although other materials may also be used. Rain gutter cleaning is required on a regular basis in order to assure that they function as designed.

Why are Rain Gutters Necessary?

Rain gutters prevent water damage to a structure’s exterior walls and foundation.

Without rain gutters, water could run off the lower edge (known as the “eave”) of a roof and onto the exterior walls of the building. This can result in streaks as well as rapid and severe deterioration of wood siding and wood window frames.

In addition, rain gutters prevent water damage to a structure’s foundation. Water running off a roof eave falls one or more stories to the ground where it washes soil away from the foundation. Water can also leak down the foundation, washing soil away from the footing (which supports the foundation) thereby weakening the structural integrity of the building. Water can also leak through the concrete foundation causing damage to the interior of the basement or crawl space.

Why Keep Rain Gutters Clean?

dallas gutter cleaningFailure to perform proper rain gutter cleaning can result in water backing up to the edge of the roof system and even onto the roofing and into the structure itself. If water is forced back under the roofing system, dry rot can result in the wood roof deck, fascia boards, and even the supporting rafters. If water finds it’s way to the interior of the structure, additional expensive damage to paint, drywall, floors, and framing can result.

Failure to perform proper rain gutter cleaning results in dirt, leaves, and other organic and inorganic matter building up in the gutters and downspouts (“downspouts” carry water from the rain gutters to the ground). This build up of debris can result in a favorable breeding ground for mosquitoes. In addition, grass,  weeds, and even small saplings are frequently found flourishing in the troughs of clogged rain gutters, which further prevents the rain gutters from functioning properly.

How Often Should Rain Gutters be Cleaned?

Gutter cleaning frequency varies according to these factors:

  • How often does it rain at the building’s location?
  • What is the proximity of tall trees to the building?
  • Here in Texas we have a wide variety of micro-climates from high and low deserts, to mountains and seaside. Each has it’s own requirements for effective rain gutter cleaning.
  • In the high and low deserts, once a year is usually sufficient, just before the rainy season begins.
  • In areas where rainfall is slightly more common, once a year gutter cleaning is still usually acceptable.

clean rain guttersIn all of these areas, the single most important factor is the structure’s proximity to tall trees (trees that extend above the building’s roof), especially very “dirty” trees like Weeping Willows (Weeping Willows shed branches and leaves almost all year, often in large gutter-clogging quantities). The more tall trees close to the building, the more often gutter cleaning is required. At most, gutter cleaning in Texas is done 2 or 3 times a year.

Several “anti-clogging” devices are on the market that claim to keep large debris from getting into the rain gutters. However, in our experience, none of these keeps dirt, dust, and small debris out, which can still result in dams and stagnant water in the gutters. Also, most of these devices keep debris out of the gutters by trapping the debris in the device. Therefore, these anti-clogging devices usually require some form of regular maintenance like gutter cleaning.

Can I Clean My Rain Gutters Myself?

Yes you can.  Here is a partial list of what you will need to attempt your own rain gutter cleaning:

  • Ladder that will reach the roof on your building.
  • No fear of heights.
  • Wire brush, putty knife
  • Pressure washer (rent or buy)
  • Safety glasses
  • Valid medical insurance (in case you fall, get debris in your eyes, or cut yourself)
  • An able-bodied assistant (never try to do your own gutter cleaning without an assistant for safety)
  • However, if you want to save time, money, and possible serious personal injury, please call us, We will send our trained
  • technicians to take care of all your gutter cleaning needs.

How to Choose a Gutter cleaning Contractor

  • Get at least 3 rain gutter cleaning quotes.
  • Have each contractor quote both one-time and routine service. Never pay a contractor for an estimate.
  • Carefully check their liability, worker’s compensation, and vehicle liability insurance coverage. Make sure they list you as “additionally insured” on their policies.
  • Make them state, in the contract, that all members of their crew who will be on your property are employees of the contractor and the contractor will not use “day labor”.
  • Ask for gutter cleaning references, and check them out carefully.
  • As a general rule of thumb, if the difference between the highest and lowest bidders is more than 10-15%, be extra careful to confirm all 3 vendors are bidding exactly the same thing.
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