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If you own a house, you probably know that it’s important to keep your gutters clean. It’s a dirty, difficult and time-consuming task that many homeowners put off, but not cleaning gutters can lead to serious problems that can be expensive to repair.

Possible Structural Damage to Your House
When gutters get clogged with wet leaves and other debris, water can’t flow through them the way it’s supposed to, so it flows over the sides of the gutters and rains down to the ground. Water that collects near the foundation can soften the soil and damage the foundation. If the foundation gets wet and the temperature drops enough for it to freeze, the foundation can heave, crack and shift, which can weaken the structural integrity of the entire house.

Water that collects near the foundation can leak into the basement, where it can damage the walls and cause mold that can threaten your family’s health. Water can also get into a crawlspace and damage the piers that support the house.

In the winter, water that can’t flow down through the gutters can freeze and form ice dams. Large amounts of ice can accumulate along the gutters and roof and weigh down the gutters, and water can leak into the house. The weight of ice and debris can also cause the gutters to come loose from the house.

If water collects in clogged gutters, the moisture can damage the wood soffits and fascia. If wood on the outside of the attic rots, it can provide entry points for squirrels, raccoons and other animals. Water can also damage roofing shingles, the roof deck and insulation. Wet debris in gutters can allow algae and moss to grow and damage the roof. Water that gets behind siding or window frames can cause damage and mold that may be hard to detect.

Wet leaves and other debris in gutters can attract insects. They can get into the house through gaps or cracks and some, such as termites, can cause major structural damage.

Potential Problems With Your Yard and Driveway
Water pouring down from gutters can damage flowers, bushes and trees below by washing away the topsoil that holds the roots in place. Water can also wash away mulch in a garden.

If water runs over the sides of the gutters and lands on the driveway or sidewalk and freezes, it can create a slippery surface that can cause falls and potentially serious injuries. Water can also run under the driveway and cause holes and cracks to form. The driveway can even shift, which can damage cars, and the uneven surface can create a tripping hazard.

Don’t Skip Gutter Cleaning
Cleaning your gutters is an unpleasant but necessary task. If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, aren’t physically up to the task, or just don’t want to, hire a gutter cleaning company. Also consider installing gutter guards to reduce the amount of debris in your gutters and the frequency of cleanings.