How Ignoring Your Clogged Gutters Could Cost You Dearly Down the Road

You’ve heard the old saying before: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure… especially with modern day healthcare prices!”

All right, so maybe that last part wasn’t uttered by Ben Franklin in the 18th century. But the idea behind that adage from so long ago still holds true today. Basically, it encourages people to put forth a little effort toward prevention in order to avoid a significant disaster down the road which must be “cured.”

Clogged gutters
That Ben. He was a pretty sharp guy.

This is certainly accurate with respect to the gutters on your home. Compared with many other household chores or maintenance tasks, cleaning out your gutters is relatively easy to accomplish. But if you neglect this important job, you could be leaving yourself open for a host of problems and expensive repair bills. In fact, some gutter cleaning contractors have been known to say, “Gutter prevention is measured in pennies; repairs are measured in dollars.”

Clogged gutters prevents runoff rainwater or melted snow from flowing to your downspouts, where the liquid can be directed away from your home. Instead, whatever moves down your roof will either accumulate in or atop your gutters, or it will slide over the edge and fall to the ground below. Over time, this dysfunctional process could lead to:

  • Broken/Rotted soffits or fascia boards: Water passing over the edge of a clogged gutter can seep into wooden fascia boards or soffits nearby. Pooling water can create algae, which can discolor the wood as well. Estimated repair costs: $6 to $10 per foot
  • Roof leaks: If water gets between your gutter and your roof, it could expand if it freezes during the winter. This can cause a crack or opening to form through which moisture can leak into your home or attic. Estimated repair cost: $1,054
  • Infestations: Clogged gutters are like a welcome mat for pests. Standing water provides a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, flies, and other insects; while the gutter debris can easily be arranged into a nest or den by birds, rodents, squirrels, or possums. Estimate pest control cost: $50 to $300 for bugs; $200 to $2,000 for wildlife
Clogged gutters
Home improvement contractors love clogged gutters. Cha-ching!
  • Ice formation on surfaces: In cold weather, trickling or dripping water will flow over the edge of a clogged gutter, where it can refreeze as ice. This can pose a slip-and-fall hazard for your family. Estimated medical costs: up to $20,450 (for elderly people)
  • Destroyed landscaping: Water that can’t flow though a gutter can fall directly onto landscaping or flowerbeds that are situated near the home. This can displace mulch and soil while causing harm to many types of flora. Estimated repair cost: up to $3,580 for a complete reinstall
  • Cracking or sagging pavement. Driveways and sidewalks can be damaged if water constantly falls on them. The moisture gets under the cement, which can lead to cracks, sags, and buckles. Estimated repair cost: $2,292 for a driveway; up to $2,334 for a sidewalk or walkway
  • Basement flooding: During a heavy rainstorm or after days of constant snowmelt, the water that falls near your home can seep into your basement. This can cause leaks or flooding that can wreak havoc on an interior space – especially if it’s a finished basement. Estimated repair costs: up to $10,000
  • Foundation damage: Like driveways, misplaced water can seep into the foundation of a home and cause the same types of problems. These problems are difficult to reach, but must be addressed to protect the structural integrity of a home. Estimated repair costs: $1,000 to $30,000
Clogged gutters
You don’t want to see this much of Ben Franklin if you have to give it to a home repair contractor.

Now, for the prevention information: there are two basic ways to avoid the problems associated with clogged gutters. You can either clean your gutters at least twice a year (or hire someone to do it). Or you can install a gutter protection system such as Gutter Helmet (offered by Moonworks). But ignoring the issue won’t make it go away – it could come back to attack your wallet later on.

Sources: Atlanta-Journal ConstitutionHome AdvisorCostHelperCenters for Disease Control

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