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What Exactly Causes Clogged Gutters?

October 12, 2012
Amanda Curry
Read Time
4 minutes

It doesn’t really matter where you live, clogged gutters will eventually create a problem for you and your home. Many different factors including leaves, twigs, shingle grit and debris can create havoc for the gutters on your home.

When searching out the perfect home, many families seek a peaceful setting with scenic surroundings, which is typically bounded by trees. Whether you’re surrounded by maple trees, fir trees, or birch trees, living among nature adds some beautiful aesthetics to a home. But you’re also in line for clogged gutters.

Here are the main reasons why – and how – gutters get clogged.

Trees are lovely but not to gutters

The main cause of rain gutter clogging is your home’s proximity to trees. All year, and then more intensely in autumn, trees shed leaves. Some leaves find their way onto roofs, and from there, into the gutters and downspouts. The clogging is quicker and more troublesome for houses that have flat or near-flat roofs. Clogging also rapidly arises in gutters that are not sufficiently angled toward the downspouts.

Gutters that become clogged by leaves and twigs remain wet for longer and are difficult to blow out. This type of backup creates the perfect environment for molds, pests and birds to make their home. Clogging also leads to gutter sagging and gutter overflows, which may seep into and damage the roofing structure or the building’s foundation.

Ice damming in the gutter

Snow is another big roof or gutter-clogging agent. Again, the slope of the roof and the setting of the gutter play a major role in prevention. But it’s the condition of the attic that tips the scales. In the typical case, the accumulation of snow on the roof is not, by itself a problem. The trouble is that a poorly ventilated attic retains more warmth than a properly ventilated attic would, leading to the thawing of the snow on the roof. The snow then slides onto the cold gutter, and the sudden temperature difference freezes some of the snow into ice. Soon enough, the gutter is clogged.

Clogs produced from ice damming may force additional snow to overflow the gutter, causing damage to the eaves, walls and the foundation. The weight of snow may also warp the gutter away from the roof, allowing seepage of snow or drips of water onto the fascia boards, the interior walls and ceilings. Should these rot as a result, the repair could cost a bundle.

Bad downspouts

Sometimes nature has nothing to do with it. A poorly designed or improperly installed gutter downspout may trap debris, particularly at the entry or exit points, blocking the natural flow of water and causing water to dam in the gutter – and trap more debris. The result is the clogging of the gutter that is often blamed on leaves and twigs.

Preventing gutter clogging

Here are the best ways of protecting your roof from the damages of clogged gutters:

  • Think gutter guards

    The best way to prevent clogged gutters is to install gutter guards. There are many choices of gutter guards – also known as gutter covers – with varying effectiveness. As with any choice of implements, it is important to choose the right gutter guard for your roof. In particular, gutter guards must be good enough to do their job as well as match the roof type so as to enhance the house’s exterior appearance.

A good bet here is LeafFilter gutter guards. They come in varieties to match any roof and are patented to comply with roof warranties. More telling perhaps, they keep all debris out of the gutter downspout but allow liquid to pass through. As many a gutter cleaner will attest, that is the key test of a good gutter guard. Blocking the way of small pieces of debris is the main drawback of poorly designed gutter guards because it causes blockage of the gutter downspout and results in the very gutter clogging it is meant to prevent. For guaranteed, no clog gutters, LeafFilter is the best investment.

  • Rain gutter heat tapes

    Rain gutter heat tapes are heating cables wired on gutters to keep them warm and prevent ice damming. They are common in the far north regions where the climate is unforgiving, and work best when coupled with proper attic ventilation.

  • Properly ventilated attic

    Chances of ice damming are greatly reduced by a properly ventilated attic. A well ventilated attic is warmer than the outside but not so much as to thaw the snow on the roof. The snow therefore flows by force of gravity and retains the same temperature in the gutter.

  • Regular gutter maintenance

    The obvious solution to clogged gutters is to unclog them. But well maintained gutters will make it less likely that a gutter clogs in the first place. The established rule is to have two major cleanings a year. The best timing is before and after autumn, because that is when trees unload more leaves. But it may be necessary to clean the gutter in-between the two major cleanings, depending on the age and state of the gutter. If you’re not up to the task of sticking to a regular cleaning schedule, eavestrough covers are a great solution to get the no clog gutters you desire.

LeafFilter’s gutter protection system features an innovative design based on a stainless steel mesh. The steel mesh eavestrough covers feature specially molded holes to filter water in without allowing any debris, leaves, or pests into the gutter. The steel mesh features a non-stick surface that keeps organic matter from sticking to it. LeafFilter gutter guards also feature a ridged vinyl gutter guard that collects and channels water into the gutters for proper drainage. These design features make LeafFilter the best self-cleaning, low-maintenance eavestrough covers on the market. They’re guaranteed to maintain no clog gutters for life, meaning homeowners can stay safely on the ground and free of injury.

LeafFilter’s gutter protection system can prevent many of those problems and allow homeowners to be secure in the fact that they don’t have to climb a ladder and possibly be injured.