Clogged Gutters: A potential cause of water damage to the home

How clogged gutters can lead to extensive water damage in and around the home

SERVPRO® of Media highlights the need for water damage restoration that can arise when clogged gutters are undetected or neglected, leading to a water intrusion and the potential for extensive water damage. Gutters clogged with leaves, sticks, pinecones, and living plants are unsightly, and unsightly gutters ruin curb appeal and decrease property values. Clogged gutters can also overflow, causing extensive property damage to the home.

Fall and spring are the best times to clean out gutters. It is recommended to have several gutter checks in autumn when the leaves begin to fall and at least one inspection around the end of March. A mature oak tree may have between 200,000 and 500,000 leaves on its branches, and many of these leaves will wind up on the roof and in the gutters. Only one inspection at Halloween or Thanksgiving is risky, but an inspection at Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas brings peace of mind, especially when temperatures drop, the snow falls, and the risk of ice dams forming is elevated.

While most or all of the leaves have fallen by the end of December, pine needles and other debris can clog the gutters. A Spring gutter clean may involve a visual check of the gutters and roof. The Spring inspection will bring peace of mind when the first thunderstorm of the season stalls over the neighborhood, dropping several inches of rain on the roof. Knowing that the gutters are in good shape eliminates worries about potential water damage.


Damage caused by clogged gutters

Listed below are five types of damage clogged gutters can cause around a home.

1. Damaged foundations

The primary purpose of gutters is to capture water and direct it to the downspouts. The downspouts lead the water away from the foundation of the home. Some homeowners attached extensions to the downspouts to ensure the water is deposited safely from the foundation. Overflow from clogged gutters is deposited very close to the foundation. The saturated ground expands and then contracts when the water evaporates. The positive and negative stress on the foundation can cause the foundation walls to develop cracks. The cracks weaken the foundation and allow water to seep into the basement or crawl space. The compromised foundation can set off a cascade of issues that undermine the home's structural integrity. A bi-annual gutter cleaning can help the homeowner avoid catastrophic water damage and repair and reconstruction of the foundation.

2. Rotting wood

Gutters are attached to wooden fascia boards. Water from clogged gutters can overflow and cause the facia boards to rot, and wooden siding is also vulnerable to wood rot when gutters overflow.

3. Landscaping damage

A well-landscaped yard can experience water damage from overflowing gutters. The excess water can wash away rich topsoil needed for plant nutrition, and some shrubs and plants may not thrive in the wet conditions caused by water overflow. The replacement cost for a mature shrub or bush could easily be several hundred dollars. Mulch can be washed away, littering the yard with debris.

4. Ice dams

During the cold winter months, clogged gutters trap water that can freeze, producing buildup known as ice dams. When the ice begins to melt, the water can seep into the roof, causing water damage to the attic, walls, and interior ceilings. Mold, wood rot, and structural damage are inevitable If the gutter problem is not resolved. Moisture mitigation, mold remediation, and the repair and replacement of sheet rock and structural timbers could have been avoided with a simple gutter inspection and cleanout.

5. Pest problems

During the warmer months, the water and moisture trapped by clogged gutters create an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Moisture that seeps into the attic and behind the siding also creates an inviting habitat for termites. Roaches, silverfish, and ants appreciate the moist environment, as well. An increase in the pest population inside the home may signal the need for a water damage inspection and a gutter check to identify the source of any moisture.

What to do when a water intrusion and water damage have occurred

If a water intrusion from clogged gutters has affected the attic, ceilings, walls, baseboards, flooring, and other home parts, the homeowner should immediately clean the gutters. Next, the services of a reputable, certified, and professional water damage restoration services company can be secured to remove any water and reduce moisture levels with high-powered, fast, and efficient dehumidifiers. Once the damaged areas are thoroughly dried out, the SERVPRO of Media team can begin repairing and restoring the damaged home. Delays can lead to advanced secondary damage, including mold, wood rot, and pest infestation.

For more information about water damage cleanup for not just homes but also businesses like Regal Edgmont Square, 4777 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, PA 19073, contact SERVPRO of Media at (610) 566-5720 or at

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