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7 Ways Clogged Gutters Can Damage a Home

Written by Shawn Drew
Updated September 10, 2021
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If you don’t clean your gutters twice a year, you’re risking clogs and major home damage

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One place you can’t miss on your spring cleaning checklist: the gutters. Cleaning out your gutters in the spring (and fall!) isn’t just about keeping up appearances—clogged gutters can lead to major damage to your home.

Here are all the reasons why this twice-a-year task is important. 

1. Damaged Foundations

Your gutter has one essential function: to direct water that falls on your roof away from your foundation. If a gutter becomes clogged, the water can get stuck, or worse, spill out closer to your home’s foundation. 

While it might seem like no big deal, water coming into contact with your foundation can create dangerous cracks over time. Those cracks can lead to a failing foundation, which means a crumbling home.

2. Rotting Wood

Your gutters are held to your home by wooden boards known as fascia boards. If your gutters become clogged, the water can overspill and rot the fascia. If neglected, your entire gutter system could collapse. 

It isn’t just the fascia you have to worry about, either. If your home has wooden siding, that’s one more reason to be mindful of gutter clogs, as excess water spillover can rot the siding, too.

3. Landscaping Damage

If you have a home with a yard, chances are you’ve done some level of landscaping. And after that elbow grease, the last thing you want is a clogged gutter to redirect water into your perfectly maintained flower beds. This could cause overwatering and damage, or even destroy your greens completely. 

4. Ice Dams

When it gets cold, ice dams (aka blockages of frozen water) can form in any gutter, especially if that gutter hasn’t been recently cleared of clogs. Any debris makes it much easier for ice to form from water at the molecular level. 

Ice might not seem like a problem at first, but it will eventually start to melt. And when it does, that water has to go somewhere—and chances are that means seeping into your roof and your walls, putting you at risk of mold, rot, and structural damage.

"Ice damming, the process of water thawing and refreezing on the roof, can be a major culprit behind home leaks,” says Michael DiMartino, senior vice president of installations at Power Home Remodeling. “By installing an ice and water shield, you add an extra layer of protection."

5. Pest Problems

Clogged gutters invite standing water, a favorite playground for mosquitoes. The swampy environment of stagnant gutter water is their reproductive paradise. They aren’t the only bugs who love a good clogged gutter, either.

Rotting wood, which can be caused by clogged gutters, is irresistible to insects including termites and carpenter ants who live in and make a meal of wet, wooden environments. If left untreated, a termite infestation can cause serious structural damage to your home, depending on how much wood they eat away.

6. Basement Flooding

If your gutters are clogged and water is falling too close to your foundation, it isn’t just the foundation that’s in trouble. All of the water that’s slowly cracking that stonework can also be leaking into your basement. Adding gutter covers to your gutter system can extend the time needed between cleanings, but won’t save you from a basement flood. 

7. Driveway Damage

We’ve already discussed how water being exposed to your home’s foundation over time can damage it by causing cracks. If you have a driveway, you run the risk of it being damaged or destroyed the same way if you don’t regularly clean your gutters to avoid clogs. Over time, the water being exposed to your driveway from the ground up can cause cracks and damage

How Much Does It Cost to Have Your Gutters Cleaned?

Clean gutters
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This is a task most homeowners can do themselves if they are in possession of a ladder and can have a friend on sight to spot them. Simply donning a pair of work gloves, climbing up, and removing any and all debris is all you have to do.

But if you prefer to have a professional in your area clean your gutters, expect to spend about $160. The average homeowner spends between $120 and $280 to have their gutters cleaned.

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