Figuring out what time of year is best for gutter cleaning can be a trial-and-error style of learning process for new homeowners. What species of trees you have around your home, how close they are, and yearly weather patterns all determine when the gutters need to be cleaned.
Whether you plan to clean the gutters out on your own, or hire a local gutter company, it is vital to learn the cycles of the trees around your home so that you can schedule the cleanings accordingly.
In this article we explain the most optimal times of year for homeowners to have their gutters cleaned, and why these times of year are so common. We also discuss why some homes will need to clean their gutters early in the season, whereas others are able to wait until the end of the seasons.
Gutter cleaning is a very important component of home maintenance, as it protects homes from damages caused by water overflow. The purpose of gutter systems is to safely divert rain water away from the home. In doing so gutters prevent the water from washing away at the foundation, and also prevent water contact with wooden surfaces.
When gutters and downspouts become clogged from excessive debris the water is no longer able to drain from the system. As a result the gutters fill with water until they leak or overflow all around the home. Unfortunately when the gutters fill with water they become very heavy which constantly strains and pulls at the brackets and fascia boards. This constant strain on the gutter brackets and roofing eave eventually pulls the gutters (and sometimes the fascia boards loose) from the home.
Almost all common gutter repairs are the direct results of neglecting the gutters by allowing debris to clog the system for extended periods of time. Issues such as gutters going out of pitch, loose gutters, sealant leaks, and more can all be avoided by maintaining the gutters as needed. Moreover these gutter repairs lead to more expensive repairs such as fascia board rot or roof damage. Therefore the cost of gutter cleaning is a small investment towards protecting very expensive elements of your home.
The most common times of the year for cleaning gutters are the fall and spring seasons. Not only do trees shed their leaves, fruits, and seeds during these times of year. But also “spring showers” and the impending winter weather effect the timing for gutter cleaning decisions.
When it comes to what time of year is best for gutter cleaning, Spring and Fall are only the short answers. As it turns out there is a little more to it.
The most common time of year, and possibly the most important time of year for gutter cleaning, is the fall season. Since trees drop the majority of their leaves a couple months before the snow and ice season sets in, the fall season is prime time for clearing out gutters.
Most deciduous trees (trees that drop leaves) begin the process of dropping leaves once the Autumn Equinox gives the signal fall has arrived. Trees begin to change color as early as September and soon after the leaves begin to fall.
Homes that have trees nearby that shed leaves every year will experience leaves landing on the roofs every season. Wind, rain, and gravity work together to move these debris into the gutter systems where they begin to accumulate and cause clogs.
The goal with fall gutter cleaning is to remove the leaves after the majority have fallen from the trees, but also to be before the first big winter storm. However not every fall leaf cycle is the same. It almost seems like the cycles alternate every other year. During a normal fall season the leaves will begin to fall late September through October. Whereas some of the recent seasons have had the leaves holding out until November or later. Last fall season (2022) we experienced a normal cycle where the leaves had mostly fallen throughout October.
Having the gutter system free and clear of clogs and debris going into the winter season is absolutely necessary to avoid damages over the winter. When gutters are clogged the water is not able to drain. This works the same for melting snow and ice, as the snow melts it drains through the downspouts. However if the gutters are clogged then the only escape for the melting snow is to go over the gutters, usually in the form of ice cycles. Another major problem with clogged gutters in the winter is that any water that is trapped in the gutter or downspout will expand as it freezes. As water freezes over it expands and takes up more space. This expansion can rip a downspout open at the seams.
The second most common time of year for cleaning the gutters is during the spring season. Spring is the rainiest time of the year. Therefore the gutters and downspouts should be clear during that time. Otherwise water will overflow and leak from the gutter systems, potentially causing damages.
Many types of common trees produce early spring flowers, seed pods, pollen sacs, fruits, leaves, etc.. that drop throughout March, April, and May. Homes with tall pine trees that overhang also experience heavy pine needle accumulation through winter and early spring.
As previously mentioned, the goal of scheduling gutter cleanings is to to aim for the most optimal times. Homes with the early spring trees mentioned above nearby, will require an early spring cleaning. Whereas most other homes are able to wait until the end of spring to clear everything at once.
There are some obvious and not so obvious signs that the gutters need to be cleaned. The best way to know if your gutter system is operating properly is to observe the gutters during rainfall. That way you are able to see where any leaks or overflows are occurring, and to confirm if the downspouts are working properly.
The most obvious sign that the gutters need cleaned is when water leaks from the downspouts. If water leaks from the downspout then the downspout is guaranteed to be clogged.
Getting set on a yearly gutter cleaning schedule that is efficient is key to gutter maintenance. Once you have figured out the yearly leaf cycles of the trees around your home, you are able to fine tune your gutter cleaning schedule accordingly.
The average home requires one gutter cleaning service per year, and this is usually scheduled mid to late Fall. In fact, we recommend our “one cleaning per year customers” to schedule their fall cleanings towards the end of Fall. Late November through December is prime time for Fall Gutter Cleaning. The goal is to make sure that the majority of the debris has fallen from the trees before cleaning. This ensures that the gutters and downspouts are clear and ready for the winter season.
However homes with pine trees (evergreens) instead of leafy trees (deciduous) are on their own schedule. Since pine needles typically fall year round, they accumulate all year including winter. Spring is a common time for homeowner’s with excessive pines to have their gutters cleaned because of the impending rain. They didn’t make up the saying “April Showers” for nothing. Therefore, our recommendation for homes with excessive pine needle accumulations is early spring. Preferably before the rain season fully sets in.
Homes that have trees nearby that produce early spring blossoms, helicopter seed pods, pollen sacs, and spring fruits are also subject to an early spring cleaning. Throughout March and April gutter systems are under attack from these types of trees. Therefore clearing out this debris before the rain season is a very good idea.
The good thing about annual spring and fall cleanings is that the debris has less time to decompose in the gutters and form clogs. Over time, the organic material of tree debris decomposes into mulch or mud. The problem is that when this mulch tries to flush out of the downspouts, it tends to get stuck and form clogs. A clog that is made of fresh leaves and other small debris that is fresh, will allow water to still get by. However when the downspout is compacted with mulch, no water is able to get by. Which in turn results in the gutter system leaking and overflowing because the water can’t drain.
Our average annual gutter cleaning customer receives two gutter cleaning services per year. One is always scheduled for the fall and the other is scheduled for early spring or late spring, depending on what types of trees are around. Our recommendation for homes that require two gutter cleanings per year is Late Fall and Late Spring. That way the gutters are free and clear for another 4-6 months to the next service.
Another popular twice per year combo is an early fall cleaning and a late fall cleaning. Homes that live in a wooded lot are all too familiar with excessive leaves in the fall. By mid October their homes and yards are covered with leaves. However if you were to clear out the debris in October, then the gutters will likely fill up with leaves again. The solution for this is to have an early fall cleaning to clear the first wave of leaves, which keeps the gutters flowing for November rains. And then to have a late fall cleaning to clear everything that drops after the first service.
Homes with a lot of trees around may require more than the average of two cleanings per year to keep everything flowing properly. Even with a three service per year cycle, the spring and fall seasons are equally as crucial as with a two service cycle. But what about the third service?
The most common options for three cleaning cycles are to add a late summer cleaning to make sure everything is clear for August storm season. Or to add an additional fall cleaning for homes with excessive fall leaves.
Only homes with excessive overhanging trees will require four separate gutter cleaning services in one year. When it comes to four services, there is pretty much only two options. The first option is to schedule them all 3 months apart. A good example of that would be March>June>September>December. Then the second option is to tweak those dates for more optimal times. Here is a good example of that: Late March>Early June>Mid October>Late December.
Gutter cleaning is a very important aspect of home exterior preservation. Neglecting your gutters for extended periods of time will result in costly home repairs. Learning the leaf and debris dropping patterns of the trees close to your home is an important step to scheduling gutter cleanings efficiently. Once you learn those cycles we suggest scheduling annual gutter cleaning services so that you never have to worry about your gutters again.
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