Gutter Cleaning 101: What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Gutters

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Last updated on June 3rd, 2022 at 12:07 pm

Here’s What Can Happen If Your Gutters Are Clogged

Has it been a while since you’ve cleaned your gutters? Maybe you’re wondering if you truly HAVE TO clean your gutters, or if you can wait a while longer before you have to mess with it. Well, you’re in luck, because I have your answer right here!

Gutters that are not cleaned regularly can cause damage to both the interior and exterior of a house. The damage can include roof, gutter, foundation, and/or interior ceiling damage, along with mold and mildew growth, bad smells, and pest infestation. To prevent this, clean gutters semi-annually (fall and spring).

To better understand the full extent of the damage that can occur if you leave your gutters clogged long enough, we need to break down each possible event further.

Let’s dive in!

Quick Navigation: Clogged Gutter Problems

  1. Exterior Home Damage
  2. Interior Home Damage
  3. Mold & Mildew Growth
  4. Bug & Pest Infestation
  5. How To Quickly Clean Gutters With A Pressure Washer
  6. Other FAQs About Cleaning Gutters Regularly
  7. Final Thoughts
  8. Related Gutter & Outdoor Articles

One: Exterior Home Damage

One of the events that can happen if you don’t clean your gutters regularly is damage to the exterior of your home.

Likely, the first thing that will get damaged is the gutter itself. Leaves and debris is heavy and can lead to the gutter becoming unattached to the house.

Also, if the gutters are clogged badly enough to result in standing water, the integrity of the gutters itself can break down, cause rust spots, and eventually, lead to holes in the gutters.

Along with the gutters, the roof can see some damage because the water can no longer effectively run away from the house. Debris can overflow onto the roof and cause standing water which leads to bugs and pests making their nests in the excess debris and mold growth.

And if the standing water problem doesn’t get fixed by winter, then it can freeze and cause the gutters to crack and break, pull away from the house, or further damage the roof.

Gutters pulling away from the house can cause damage to all of the surrounding areas of the home.

Lastly, the foundation of your house can see the damage as well.

Since gutters that are not cleaned cannot remove water from the house properly, the water will just dump over the side of the gutters and potentially settle right at the base of the foundation.

Again, standing water, mold growth, and pest infestation will likely be the cause of this exterior damage.

But the damage doesn’t just stop there. Clogged gutters can also damage the interior of your home.

Two: Interior Home Damage

Another event that can happen if you don’t clean your gutters regularly is damage to the interior of your home.

The most likely interior damage that will occur is a ceiling leak.

If the standing water gets bad enough and damages the roof, then water will leak into your ceiling and cause a costly repair for you.

This can also happen if the clogged gutters direct the water toward the top of the house instead of away from the house. Over time, the water will wear down the side of the house/soffit area and leak into the ceiling as well.

Ceiling leaks can cause drywall damage, mold and mildew growth, and damage to your attic, floor, and belongings where water has leaked.

At this point, this will be the most expensive point for you to try to remedy the situation because likely the roof, gutters, parts of the attic, and the ceiling have seen extensive water damage.

You definitely don’t want to let uncleaned gutters get to this point!

Both interior and exterior damages are the worst of the things that can happen if you don’t clean your gutters regularly. However, there are a couple of smaller problems that can occur (and will lead to these major problems if left unchecked).

Let’s go over those next.

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Three: Mold & Mildew Growth

Another event that can happen if you don’t clean your gutters regularly is mold and mildew growth.

Now, if you aren’t allergic to mold or mildew, then this might not seem like a huge problem. However, it can be very harmful to anyone who lives with you or visits you if they are allergic to the spores.

It is best to keep gutters clean and free of debris to minimize this growth and protect the health of anyone living or visiting your home.

In addition, clogged gutters can cause a bad smell to permeate your house. Algae, mold and mildew, standing water, rotting wood, and bug and pest nests all have strong odors that can be obnoxious to those living and visiting your home.

Nobody wants people to think their house smells bad. You can simply avoid this problem by keeping your gutters clog-free.

how often should gutters be cleaned
Our green algae-covered gutters needed some TLC. When we bought our house, it had been neglected for several years.

Four: Bug and Pest Infestation

The final event that can happen if you don’t clean your gutters regularly is an infestation.

Between the excess debris, standing water, and mold, and mildew growth, your gutters, and roof will become a feeding ground and perfect nesting spot for many bugs and critters.

For example, mosquitos love standing water. So expect a higher than normal amount of those obnoxious pests to be around your home if your gutters aren’t cleaned regularly.

In addition, chipmunks and mice love to nest in leaves, dirt, and debris, so you’ll basically be inviting them to live within your clogged gutters.

These pesky critters tend to chew on and destroy things. So they will inevitably lead to some of the exterior and interior damage we discussed above.

Again, remediating these pesky problems can be costly and will lead to excess if damage over time.

Now that we’ve discussed all of the problems that can occur if your gutters are clogged, let’s discuss how to clean them FAST so that none of these issues ever occur for you.

clogged gutters pest infestation
Birds are also attracted to the excess debris.

How To Quickly Clean Gutters With A Pressure Washer

My absolute favorite way to clean gutters is with a pressure washer. In just ONE short hour, you can clean both the inside and outside of your gutters and not even think twice about what would happen if you didn’t clean them.

To see the most effective way to do this, you can check out my article here.

Other FAQs About Cleaning Gutters Regularly

Here are some other frequently asked questions about clogged gutters and why you need to clean them regularly!

How Often Should Gutters Be Cleaned?

Gutters should be cleaned twice a year (typically once in the spring and once in the fall after the leaves have fallen). Even homes that don’t have trees nearby need to clean their gutters semi-annually. To clean the gutters quickly, use a leaf blower or pressure washer to blast the debris out.

What Month Should You Clean Gutters?

The best months to clean gutters are May and November. Clean your gutters in November because most of the leaves will have fallen off and snow likely won’t have fallen yet. Then clean your gutters again in 6 months (which is May) because most of the spring buds will have fallen off as well.

How Do You Know When Gutters Are Bad?

Gutters are bad when they are covered in rust, have holes in them, or are bent/falling off the house and cannot transport water away from the house properly anymore. If there is standing water along the roof, foundation, or within the gutters even though the gutters are clear of debris, then it is time to replace your gutters.

How Much Do Gutters Cost?

The average cost of installing new gutters on a 1500 sq ft home is $1,600 ($10 per linear foot x 160 linear feet). However, the cost can range from $1,000 to $4,500 depending on the type of gutters installed.

How To Make Gutters Look New Again?

The best way to make gutters look new again is to clean them and paint them!

I have a fantastic tutorial that shows you just how easy it is to paint your gutters and downspouts. We did it to our home, and our gutters look brand new (even 6 months later!).

To learn how to paint your gutters and downspouts in one day, check out my article here.

Final thoughts On Reasons To Clean Gutters

There you have it! Tons of damage can occur if you don’t clean your gutters regularly. Yes, I totally agree that it’s a nuisance to do, but using a leaf blower or pressure washer makes it quick, easy, and painless.

Set a reminder in your phone to go off in the spring and fall, and never worry about it because your home won’t see any damage like this!

Love this post? Share it with others so they can properly maintain their home as well!

Related Gutter & Outdoor Articles

Gutter Cleaning 101: What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Gutters

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