Find Out When and How Often to Clean Your Gutters

Updated November 4, 2021
A white house with trees on the front
Yellow Dog Productions / The Image Bank via Getty Images

Keep leaf build-up and seasonal debris at bay with routine gutter-cleaning

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When all of those beautiful autumn leaves start to fall, they can quickly accumulate in your gutters and cause build-ups and overflow. You can get ahead of the changing seasons and protect your home from water damage, rot, and decay by regularly cleaning your gutters. How often and when to do it can depend on a lot of factors from the type and condition of your gutters to the kinds of trees near your roof. 

Here’s what you’ll need to inspect your gutters to determine if it’s time for a clean-out:

Difficulty: 1/5 

Time: 1 hour

Materials: 

  • Ladder

  • Heavy-duty gloves

Why You Should Clean Your Gutters

Cleaning your gutters is certainly no one’s favorite chore, but it’s essential to prevent decay and damage to your home’s exterior. Loose or broken gutters, or those clogged with debris, can allow water, dirt, mold, mildew, and algae to penetrate your roof, exterior walls, and even your home’s foundation. 

Clogged gutters are not only unsightly. They can also put you on the hook for thousands of dollars in repair costs, including the potential replacement of your entire gutter system, which costs around $1,900 on average.

How Often You Should Clean Your Gutters

How often you should clean your gutters depends on the following factors: 

  • Condition of your gutters

  • Whether you have a good gutter protection system (gutter screens or guards)

  • Trees and foliage near your roof

  • Seasonal weather cycles

In general, you should plan to clean your gutters at least once or twice a year. But if you have lots of tall trees near your roof, you’re going to need to tackle the job more often. 

For example, if you have oak trees overhanging your roof, then you’ll need to clean your gutters at least twice a year—and don’t forget the downspouts. And if you have pine trees, then you’re going to want to up that routine to a quarterly cleaning, as pine trees are veritable needle-shedding machines.

On the other hand, if you have a gutter protection system, especially micromesh gutter guards or screens, then you can probably get away with cleaning your gutters once every 1 to 2 years.

When You Should Clean Your Gutters

A close up of dead leaves overflowing a gutter
Photogress / E+ via Getty Images

If you’re opting for a twice-yearly cleaning, your best bet is to do it in spring and early fall. Fall and winter can be especially hard on your gutters, as those lovely autumn leaves have a nasty habit of accumulating. Compounded with winter snow and ice, and you can have quite a mess on your hands.

Tackling the job during autumn will ensure your gutters are ready for all that fall and winter can dish out. When spring arrives, clearing away accumulation from months of falling leaves, snow, and ice prepares your system for spring rains and summer storms.

Signs it’s Time for a Clean-Out

Deciding when and how often to clean your gutters isn’t difficult, if you know what to look for. Here are some tell-tale signs it’s time for a gutter clean-out:

  • Your gutters are overflowing

  • You notice signs of leaking on your roof, siding, yard, or pavement

  • Your guttering is broken, or sections have pulled away from the roofing or exterior walls

  • Water does not flow readily from the downspouts when it rains or snows

  • You notice debris build-up in the guttering

DIY vs. Professional Gutter-Cleaning

A couple cleaning away leaves from the gutter
Roy Morsch / The Image Bank via Getty Images

Though it’s not exactly an easy task, you’ll definitely earn your weekend warrior cred. Many homeowners choose to clean their gutters themselves, as long as they’re comfortable working on a sturdy ladder.

If you have a multi-story home or gutter guards, you may want to consider leaving the job to the professionals. The cost to hire a gutter cleaning company is around $159 on average, but those rates can increase if your gutters are damaged, or it’s been a while since the last cleaning. If you have a multi-story home, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to as much as $425 per 200 square feet.

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