During heavy rains, your roof gutters and downspouts work together to direct the flow of water away from your home. However, if your gutters are clogged up with debris, the flow will be interrupted causing water to overflow, damaging your gutters and roofing and, ultimately, your home. This is why it is so important to clean and check your gutters during your seasonal outdoor maintenance and cleaning.
Some of the biggest culprits for clogging up roof gutters are the trees surrounding your home. The most important time of year to clean your gutters is in the fall when trees have been dropping their leaves. For some tree species that are heavy pollinators, dropping lots of seeds and flowers, it is also a good idea to inspect your gutters in late spring.
If you or your neighbors have large trees, you may want to check your gutters two to three times per year. Large trees that hang over your roof line are the worst for dropping leaf litter directly onto the roof and causing damage so you should think about pruning them to remove branches that hang over the roof or that are within ten feet. Of course, with a bit of help from the wind, even trees that are not immediately next to the roof but just in its general proximity drop their debris into your gutters so you aren’t off the hook just because the trees aren’t right up against the house. Even homes without any trees nearby should have their gutters inspected regularly, you never know what might float by and the grit from asphalt shingles can make its way into your gutters as well.
Most people want large mature trees in their yard for the shade, interest and curb appeal that they offer. When planting new trees, think about the size they will reach at maturity and plant them far enough from the house so that they will not overhang above the roof line. Also, choose varieties of trees that shed less seeds, flowers and leaves. I’ve seen guidelines suggesting a planting distance of 15-25 feet away from the house but really, these are more “guesstimates” than anything since the main determining factor is the type of tree that you’re planting and its growing habit.
Proper tree pruning along with cleaning and maintenance of your gutters will increase the longevity of your roof and, if done regularly, it is quite straightforward. If your roof line is quite high or you prefer not to clean the gutters and do the tree pruning yourself, talk to your local roofer, landscaping contractor or home improvement expert about their services.