When it comes to our homes, we do what we can to make sure that it is a safe and comfortable place to live in. We often focus our attention solely on the interior, overlooking key areas on the outside of our property like our gutters, facias, and soffits. Cleaning these areas is an essential part of good property maintenance, but the information on when and how you should clean these places can be hard to find.
We will be giving you all of our tips and tricks on how to clean your gutters, facias, and soffits effectively, why you should be cleaning these areas and how often you should complete this cleaning service.
Gutters are often overlooked, with so much going on in the world, gutter cleaning is most likely not a top priority! Gutters are often out of sight, and therefore out of mind. Yet leaving your gutters clogged full of dirt can lead to serious damage to your property, not to mention the significant expenses that may come along with it.
Gutters primarily function as your house’s main drainage system. They help prevent large build-ups of water putting strain on your roof. When gutters become clogged, their ability to drain rainwater from the property’s roof effectively is diminished. Whilst this may initially seem harmless, blocked gutters can lead to a plethora of issues, of varying severity.
Preventing Water Damage
The function of gutters is to take rainwater and waste away from your roof and your home foundations. When the gutter is full of water, leaves, dirt, and moss it means that any more debris may just overflow onto your roof.
Over time, the roof may not be able to withstand the amount of water and other sodden debris which could cause damages, leading to leaks inside the house.
This does not only mean that your home may have water damage which can cost a lot of money if any items are ruined or if the actual foundations are ruined. You also may end up with holes in your roof that cost a lot to fix.
The water damage can also lead to ceiling stains which are unsightly and can be hard to remove as you may need to replace parts of the roof, ceilings, or walls. They can also be a catalyst for more problems such as damaging your insultation and rotting the frames.
The worst part of all of this is that you may not even realise that it is happening until it is too late! If you have not thought about cleaning your gutters, then water damage can easily happen which can all be avoided by making sure that your gutters are well maintained.
A problem that could occur because of your leaky roof is not only the potential of water damage but also the growth of mould in your home. Because of the moisture caused by a leaky roof and the heat of the home, the growth of mould can be quick and can cause problems.
Mould is hard to remove and can cause health problems for those in the house. The effects of mould on the body include inflammation of the airways, nasal congestion, wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and throat irritation (theconversation.com 2015).
These problems can affect anyone but are particularly damaging to certain people. People who are more sensitive than others such as babies and children, the elderly, people with skin conditions like eczema, those with asthma, and people with weakened immune systems for example those having chemotherapy (NHS.uk) are more susceptible to the health problems caused by mould growth in the home.
Cleaning out and regularly maintaining your gutters is a step towards protecting your family from a damaged or leaky roof and the implications regarding costs and health that come with it.
A gutter filled with rainwater, leaves, twigs, sticks, bits of tree branches and moss could be the perfect home for pests like birds, rats, mice, and insects. These pests can create numerous problems to your roof if they decide that your gutter is going to be their new home.
If birds are settling in groups in your gutters and on your roof, then it can lead to headaches not only because of the amount of faeces that will end up on your home but also the continuous flying that can create problems. By taking off and landing on your gutter multiple times a day they could create cracks which over time could break, meaning that the gutter will not perform as it should and will also cost money to fix.
You also do not want any bees or wasps settling in your gutters. They can create problems as they have the capability to remove or hollow out sections of your gutter and roof. This can lead to water damage, holes in the roof and therefore (as we have discussed), mould growth.
Bee and wasp removal can cost up to £100 depending on the size of their nest or hive and the location. If they are settled in your gutter and roof, this is tricky to remove as the insect removers will have to get up there to do their job. This is an unnecessary cost considering that it can be avoided by keeping your gutters clean.
How often should I clean my gutters?
All of the aforementioned issues are easily avoidable by regularly and effectively cleaning your gutters. Most professionals recommend cleaning your gutters twice a year.
These bi-annual cleans should take place during the spring and the autumn. The latter clean should take place just before winter begins. This is when most of the leaves have fallen from the trees and is prior to the frosty weather starting.
It is incredibly hard to remove frozen debris from your gutters in the winter, so ensure you get your gutters cleaned beforehand. This reduces the chance of them becoming blocked later on in the year. The clean in the spring allows you to evaluate and fix any potential damage caused by the strong winds or snowfall felt over the winter.
A fascia is a long board or strip of material that is fixed below the lower roof, where the roof meets the wall of the property. This is known as the roofline and is where the guttering is traditionally attached. In most modern homes, they are made from uPVC, however if you have an older home you may find that your facias are made from painted wood.
Whilst facias do add certain cosmetic benefits to your property, they do serve a valuable purpose. They act as a barrier between the wood in the roof and the elements, protecting the roof frame from the weather. When this barrier fails, the roof frame can become damp and can even rot away. This can cause costly structural issues for your property and should be avoided.
Why should I clean my Fascia?
The UPVC that the fascia is made from is covered in a protective hydrophobic coating. Overtime, this coating can soon become covered in dirt, mould, and mildew. This not only looks unsightly, but it can lead to damage if the dirt and mould is not removed.
Cleaning your fascia can give your whole property an entire facelift. It instantly helps your property to look clean, tidy, and cared for, even adding value to your home. Regular cleaning also helps to prevent the risk of staining. Staining on your fascia can bring down the appeal of your home and can make your property look neglected. However, this can be avoided with regular cleaning.
If the dirt, mould, and mildew is allowed to build up on your fascia, it can cause cracks and holes to appear in the UVPC. This can expose the wooden roof frame, and can lead to damp, wood rot and warping. This can cause large structural issues, which can be costly to repair.
How Often Should I Clean My Fascia
The time between fascia cleans is highly dependant on the location of your property. If your house is next to a busy road for example, your home will be exposed to much pollution which can build up over time. This would mean that you would need to clean your fascias more regularly.
For a typical property, you should aim to have your fascia cleaned every 2-3 years. This should be regular enough to keep your fascias free from dirt and mould, keeping them gleaming.
The word “Soffit” is a French term, meaning “something fixed underneath”. You will typically find soffits in the main roofing area, but you may also find them under porches and even under the stairs. Whilst they can be made from a variety of different materials, such as cement, steel, and wood, UPVC is the superior material for soffits, and is now the most common.
The soffit serves a dual purpose – it provides an aesthetic benefit, and it also helps to protect the roof from the elements. The Soffit protects the rafters, and without the soffit, the rafters would rot and bring mould into the house, causing serious and highly expensive issues.
How Often Should I clean My Soffit?
Just like your fascia, you should aim to have the soffit on your property cleaned every 2-3 years. This will help to keep them clean and fully functional.
The Benefits to Having Gutter Cleaned by Professionals
Dangerous if Inexperienced
Gutters line the outside of your home, meaning that they are above ground level. If you are inexperienced with ladders, then cleaning your gutters out can be a daunting task. This is because you not only have to focus on the ladder but at the same time carry up the materials and equipment needed to do the job.
When climbing a ladder while carrying other objects there is the risk of falling, however, professionals will be able to go up and down the ladder with ease, having done it hundreds of times before. Professionals will have the confidence to conduct the task quickly and efficiently, therefore you can be sure that when hiring someone to clean your gutters, there will be no problem with ladders or heights.
It’s a Dirty Job!
Again, gutter cleaning is not typically at the top of a person’s cleaning list. Mainly because the job can get pretty dirty quickly. When clearing out your gutter you may very well find yourself covered in all the moss, debris, and dirt that you find.
If this isn’t something that sounds particularly appealing to you then you can call in the professionals who will not be bothered in the slightest. They deal with this kind of mess every day as it is just part of the job for them, so why not hire professionals rather than getting all dirty yourself?
Gives you Peace of Mind
A clogged-up gutter can introduce a whole load of problems that you may not have thought about before (don’t worry, we will cover these below). When you hire professionals to do the gutter cleaning for you, you can be sure that the job will be done to the best standard, leaving your gutter free of debris, and working properly once again.
You want to be sure that after the gutter is clean, water will flow directly through it and be deposited away safely. When you clean the gutter yourself, there may be areas missed or tough spots left dirty. This will not happen with professionals. They know how to get the job done, therefore giving you your money’s worth and leaving the gutter completely clean.
What is Included in a Gutter Clean?
A full gutter cleaning service does not only include the clean itself but includes other benefits that you may not have thought about before. This includes an inspection of the gutter itself and some professionals will even take photos of the ‘before’ so that they can also show you the ‘after’ final result. They will of course remove all the debris from inside the gutter and clean up after themselves as there is debris that will have ended up on the floor and not in any collection buckets.
Whilst you will often see the service named as a gutter clean, a professional will also clean your fascia and soffit in the process.
To give you a better idea of what you should expect when a professional comes to your property to clean your gutters, here is a quick guide on what they may do.
- They will position their ladder in a safe and stable place that is in a position, so they are comfortable when up there and do not have to reach or stretch far. Note that they may not be using a ladder but a telescopic pole so that they can stand underneath and remove the debris.
- Put gloves on and pick up their bin bag or bucket to put the debris in.
- They will remove your gutter/leaf covers so that they can get into the gutter properly.
- Debris in your gutter usually has two layers: the top one (if there is no cover) will be made of leaves, twigs, bits of branches e.c.t and a bottom layer of dirt and sludge. The gutter cleaner may remove the top layer with their hands, putting the leaves e.c.t in the bin or bucket.
- To remove the bottom layer of dirt and sludge they may either continue to use their hands to remove it or use a trowel to scoop up what is there without getting too messy.
- Once they’ve cleared the area that the ladder surrounds. They will need to descend the ladder and move it to the next spot. This may seem like it will take a long time but doing it this way they can stay safe rather than leaning and potentially falling off the ladder.
- They will also make sure that any fallen debris is cleared away, making sure that the area that they have cleaned is not a mess for you to clean up after they have gone.
Washing it Out
- After all the debris has been cleaned, they will do a finish wash down of the gutters. Most likely they will use a hose, turning it on against the slope of your gutter so that any remaining waste runs down towards the downpipe. This should clear out anything that remains in the gutter.
- They may use clean the gutter with a pressure washer or a telescopic gutter cleaner. This means that they do not need to climb the ladder but can use the attachment to get rid of the remaining waste.
Checking and Cleaning the Downpipes
- After the gutters are all clean, they will check your downpipes.
- If it seems blocked, then they may put the hose down the pipe until it hits the blockage and then turn it on to create enough pressure that will force the blockage out.
- It will then be easy to push out the blockage by hand or using a stick to remove the debris and then attach it back to the house. Now the rainwater will easily flow through the gutters and down the pipe, preventing the problems that we have discussed.
Professional Gutter Cleaning Prices
Here, we will be giving you an idea of the gutter cleaning prices, what is included in this price, what you need to do before the professional arrives, and roughly how long it is going to take for them to do the job.
According to checkatrade.com (2020), the average gutter cleaning prices range from £20 to £250. This is at a cost of £4 per meter of guttering. These costs are not including a call out fee which is something that professionals will charge to come to your property (see below).
“For a small, terraced house with only 5m of guttering, the cost would be under £20 – however, the minimal call out fee charged by professionals is usually £40.
For larger properties in which guttering lines the roof on all sides of the property, you can expect to pay £120 or more. Additional gutter cleaning prices will be incurred if there are accessibility issues, or if there are any parts that need to be replaced. Leaking parts will typically come at a cost of £10 per piece on top of the call out fee.
If you need new down-pipe filters, these will come at an additional price of £5 per filter. A specialist will be able to tell you upon inspection what will be needed – whether it’s a simple cleaning service or there is additional work required” (Checkatrade.com 2020).
Your gutters, fascia and soffit are vital parts of your roof, protecting your property from water damage. You should aim to get this cleaned regularly to prevent any damage to your home. The gutter should be cleaned at least once a year in the spring, and your fascia and soffit should be cleaned every 2-3 years, dependant on your property’s location.
Cleaning your gutters can be a big task, and it is often a more advisable option to hire a professional company to complete this service for you. Whatever your decision, make sure that you stay safe, and regularly give your gutters a good clean.