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February 23, 2021

Expert Guide: Top Causes for Your Gutters Not Draining

If you’ve been searching the internet with the question, why are my gutters not draining, it’s vital you get this issue checked quickly! Clean, clear gutters protect your home’s exterior walls, foundation, glass, and roof from water damage, while clogged gutters risk wood rot, concrete damage, mold, mildew, algae, and insect infestation around the home.

Storm debris and other buildup is the primary reason for gutters not draining, while undersized or damaged gutters might allow rainwater to wash over their sides or back up onto the roof. Improper gutter installation also leads to standing water that doesn’t drain.

Clean gutters are more important than many homeowners realize, but keeping them clean is probably everyone’s least favorite home maintenance chore! To better understand why you need to ensure your home’s gutters are always clog-free, note some tips on addressing gutters that aren’t draining and how to keep them clean. Discuss any questions you have with a gutter cleaning power washer near you as needed, so your home is always in good condition from top to bottom!

Why Are My Gutters Not Draining?

leaves clogging a gutter

Take a closer look at how gutters end up with layers of storm debris and other “gunk” that creates clogs and that doesn’t allow those gutters to drain as they should, so you can determine why your home’s gutters are prone to clogging and overflowing.

  • Larger debris such as twigs and leaves might not empty into attached downspout openings; as they sit in the gutters, that debris then builds up, keeping water from draining to the downspouts.
  • Since storm debris is a main cause of clogged gutters, note that overgrown tree branches can increase the risk of clogs! Branches dropping leaves, sap, moss, seeds, twigs, needles, and other debris often mean clogged gutters and eventual water damage along a home’s exterior.
roof and gutter cleaning
  • Airborne dirt, dust, and other debris settle into gutters and then harden. If it doesn’t rain enough to soften that dirt and mud so that it washes down the downspouts, gutters clog and refuse to drain as they should.
  • Even if layers of dirt and storm debris don’t block downspout openings, if those layers are too thick, rainwater will simply wash over gutter sides rather than draining to the downspouts.
  • Undersized gutters might not easily manage rainfall levels in your area! If too much rain falls for those gutters to manage, it will simply wash over those gutter sides.
  • Gutters should be installed at a slight angle, to encourage water to run to connected downspouts. Improper installation can mean standing water and dirt buildup along with it, which then clogs gutters.
  • Downspouts can also get clogged with dried dirt and mud, storm debris, and the like, allowing water to back up and stay in the gutters.

How Do I Know If My Gutters Are Clogged?

Clogged gutters aren’t always as noticeable as you might assume, which is why it’s good to consider a few signs of clogs.

  • One sure indication of clogged gutters is stained brick or siding, streaks along exterior glass, or dark “tiger stripes” along gutter outsides. As gutters clog and rainwater washes over their sides, this leaves unsightly streaks and stains along those exterior surfaces.
  • Rainwater washing over the sides of gutters will then collect around the home’s foundation, where it’s absorbed by that concrete, leading to cracks and other damage. If you notice foundation cracks and spalling, check your gutters before anything else!
  • Roof shingles and eaves also absorb standing water from the home’s gutters, causing them to crack and split.
  • When gutters clog, you might also notice moss, algae, and mold growing along roof edges or under and around shingles.
  • Standing water also attracts insects. If your home’s gutters are clogged, you’re likely to see swarms of insects collecting over the gutters or around roof edges.
  • Gutter joint separation is also an indicator of clogged gutters. Mud and other debris as well as standing water put pressure on gutter joints, pulling them out of place. If you notice bent, cracked, or leaking gutter joints, check for clogs and needed cleaning.

What Happens If You Don’t Clean Out Your Gutters?

dripping gutter on a home

Clogged gutters are no minor matter! Directing rainwater away from your home and property protects it from costly damage. Consider a few examples of that potential damage so you better appreciate why you should keep a home’s gutters clean and clog-free.

  • As rainwater washes over a home’s sides, this means more than just unsightly streaks and stains. Brick absorbs that water, softening and risking cracks and crumbling. Acid rain residues and gritty debris in rainwater also etch and damage window and door glass.
  • As foundation concrete absorbs that rainwater, it also cracks and crumbles and suffers extensive, costly damage.
  • Concrete cracks also allow water and moisture to seep into a home, leading to wood rot, mold growth, and damaged building materials and surfaces.
  • When roof shingles absorb standing water from gutters, they crumble and crack and then fall out of place.
  • Mold and algae also spread between shingles and tiles, lifting them out of position and increasing the risk of losing them in a storm or strong winds.
  • Mold and mildew developing from standing water are very bothersome to anyone but especially those with sensitivities and breathing disorders.
  • Water collecting along your property underneath gutters damages landscaping features and can risk wood rot along decks and fencing, as well as underneath homes with crawlspaces.

How Do I Get Rid of Standing Water In My Gutters?

The best way to get rid of standing water in gutters is to have a professional gutter cleaning company give them a thorough pressure washing! Power washing will clean away any residues in downspouts and that might be blocking them, as well as built-up, solidified residues in the gutters themselves.

Power washing is also an excellent solution for removing mold, moss, algae, mildew, and other contaminants growing along the roof eaves and edges. Your gutters will be clean and clear and your home protected from water damage when you schedule regular power washing and gutter cleaning.

Why Do My Gutters Overflow in Heavy Rain?

overflowing gutters due to poor drainage

The two most common reasons for gutters to overflow in heavy rains is that they are either too small to manage that rainfall, or they need cleaning. If your gutters only overflow during heavy rains and not during a lighter rainfall, they are probably sized properly and you might not need to invest in all new gutters for your home.

A thorough power washing can remove layers of dirt and grime building up in the gutters. Dirt and grime might not block gutters and downspouts completely but allow gutters to overflow during heavy rainfall. Cleaning out dirt, mud, and other debris can then mean clog-free gutters that protect your home no matter the weather!

How Do You Clear a Clogged Downspout?

clearing a clogged downspout

If rainwater is washing over the sides of clean and clear gutters, there is probably a clog along the connected downspouts. You can test the downspouts by getting on a ladder and putting a garden hose into the top of the downspout and turning it on; if the water doesn’t drain out the end of the downspout, it’s clogged and needs cleaning.

In some cases you might be able to dislodge a clog with a rubber mallet; tap it gently along the outside of the downspout and check for what feels like solid items lodged inside. As you tap, you might notice something coming dislodged from the inside of the downspout and falling out its end piece; toys, balls, solidified tar or sludge, and other such items might make their way down the spout as you work them with your mallet.

If this trick doesn’t work, it’s time to call a professional power washer near you. Soft wash pressure washing is an excellent choice for downspouts; low-pressure cleaning dissolves thick dirt and grime and anything else clogging those downspouts without pulling them away from the home. This will ensure your gutters stay clear and your home free of potential water damage.

5 Tips for Making Sure Your Gutters Drain 10x Better

Regular pressure washing is the best choice for ensuring your home’s gutters are clog-free and draining as they should. There are a few other steps you can take to keep them clean and avoid buildup and clogs:

  1. Since tree branches often drop lots of residues that end up in gutters, ensure you cut back any branches hanging over the home. This is especially vital if your property’s trees drop moss, twigs, large leaves, and other such debris.
  2. Regular roof washing removes debris that otherwise ends up in gutters.
  3. Invest in a gutter guard, or a screen that fits over the gutters. That screen will catch leaves and debris, keeping those things out of the gutters, reducing the risk of clogs. Ensure you wipe down that guard regularly so water can still get through the screen.
  4. Have a roof and gutter inspection regularly, to ensure the gutters are in good condition and sloped properly. A roofer can note if gutter bolts and connectors need tightening, if the gutters have slipped out of place, or if they’re undersized for your home as well.
  5. Since gutters need to be sloped slightly to encourage water runoff, avoid DIY repairs and installation! Investing in a quality contractor when your home needs new gutters or gutter repairs is often cheaper than addressing water damage along a home’s foundation and outside walls because those gutters didn’t function as they should.

How Do Professionals Clean Gutters?

Effective gutter cleaning is probably more difficult and cumbersome than you might realize, which is why it’s best left to the pros. Most professionals will begin gutter cleaning by using specialty tools to scoop out leaves and other oversized muck.

Soft wash systems use a specialty detergent to dissolve thick dirt, mud, dust, and other residues, and a low-pressure rinse then washes it all away. This cleaning ensures a deep clean that doesn’t disturb gutters or create messy splatter.

If your clogged gutters have resulted in unsightly tiger stripes or black stains and streaks along their undersides, a professional might use a specialty scrub brush to clean away those stripes, and then polish the gutters as needed. Downspouts will also get cleaned during this process, to ensure they stay clean and clog-free.

How Often Should Gutters Be Cleaned?

Most homeowners should schedule a roof and gutter inspection every year, for both needed repairs and cleaning. Many properties benefit from annual or semi-annual roof washing and gutter cleaning at the most.

However,  if you live in an area prone to strong storms or have lots of mature trees on your property, your gutters might need cleaning every six months! Storms leave leaves, twigs, and other debris in the home’s gutters, while mature trees drop lots of leaves, seeds, and other residues, as said.

A homeowner would also do well to note that cleaning gutters more often than needed is a much better choice than neglecting that cleaning and allowing them to clog! The few dollars you spend on cleaning, even if it’s not actually necessary, is far cheaper than fixing foundation cracks or replacing softened brick along exterior walls.

Can You Clean Gutters With a Leaf Blower?

man clearing rain gutter with leave blower

Some home improvement websites encourage cleaning gutters with leaf blowers, as these tools can quickly remove leaves, twigs, and other debris. While a leaf blower can offer some benefits, it’s not recommended that homeowners try to balance themselves and any heavy power tools on a ladder!

Leaf blowers also won’t clean away caked-on dirt, mud, and other debris. They also won’t scrub unsightly stains from gutter undersides! Blowing leaves and other residues from the gutters also allows that debris to end up on your home’s roof or lawn, creating another mess to clean.

To ensure a complete, thorough gutter cleaning, turn to a power washing pro near you. A pressure washing company will remove all unsightly, damaging dirt and debris from your home’s gutters, without messy splatter.

ProClean Pressure Washing West Bloomfield is proud to offer this information to our readers and we hope it helped you answer the question, why are my gutters not draining. If you still need more information or are ready to schedule gutter cleaning, give us a call. We offer FREE quotes and convenient appointment times for all the power washing services you need to have done.

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