Generally speaking, rain gutters need to be cleaned at least twice a year – once in the late summer or early fall and then once in late spring. But the actual frequency will depend on the type of foliage, amount of precipitation, and general climate conditions in your area, among other factors.
If your house is in a wooded area, particularly pine trees, then a gutter inspection every three months is warranted. Pine trees shed their needles the whole year-round and result in a faster buildup of detritus.
If you live at a higher elevation in a temperate zone, then checking your house’s gutters during the winter makes sense. Just remove the ice and detritus from the gutters before these become a real pain. This is also true for houses in areas with heavy rainfall – gutters with a buildup of leaves, twigs, and branches, even the occasional nest, will cause trouble later.
Pest infestations in gutters are also a good reason to clean the outside of the regular schedule. Squirrels, rats, and birds can leave behind their nests, droppings, and other detritus, while mosquitoes and carpenter ants can take up residence, too. You may want to check your home’s gutters once a month if you observe these pest infestations occurring in them.
If possible, you can check your home’s gutters every season regardless of their location. You will then be able to identify and address possible issues before these become costly.
The spring season brings with it seed pods and flowers being dropped from trees that can germinate in the rich, decomposing organic material in your home’s gutters. This is the main reason for cleaning the gutters during spring lest you end up with a garden on your roof!
The best time for cleaning the gutters in spring is between mid-May and mid-June. At this time, most trees have released their pods or flowers.
Since the summer months, particularly July and August, are the hottest and driest months of the year, there’s usually little to no need for summer cleaning. If you have already cleaned the gutters in late spring, there’s less need for summer cleaning.
But it also depends on your home’s general location. If you live in a wooded area or your home has a couple of trees hanging over its roof, then you must keep an eye on the gutters.
Aside from spring cleaning, fall cleaning is a must for all types of gutters in all types of locations. The best time is between mid-December and mid-January since most, if not all, the debris has dropped to the ground. This is also the best time in terms of temperature – it isn’t below freezing so that obstructions can be easily removed from the gutters. Otherwise, the water can become stuck in the obstruction and freeze up faster, which can cause the gutters and downspouts to crack, perhaps even split open.
Just make sure to check that the fall foliage has fallen from the trees before starting on the gutter cleaning task. Avoid doing it in October and November unless you’re up to doing the job twice.
Gutter cleaning during the winter season is necessary when fall cleaning wasn’t done or trees with slow-dropping debris surrounding the house. Snow, perhaps ice, can accumulate faster on detritus-filled gutters, so a winter cleaning is a must. But keep these tips in mind before chipping away at the snow and ice:
- Wait for a day when the temperatures are above freezing so the snow and ice can be removed more easily.
- Never beat on the frozen snow and ice to loosen the debris or use sharp objects, such as a pry bar and hammer, on them.
And when in doubt about DIY cleaning, hire a professional!