While the image above is a little extreme (most professional gutter companies have seen a few of these though!), it's the end result of a total lack of maintenance to a rain gutter system.
Most homeowners don't really think about their rain gutters until there's a very obvious problem. Rain gutters are one of the top overlooked maintenance items. In Douglas County, Oregon, where it happens to rain a fair amount, making sure you have working gutters is protecting your greatest investment - your home.
With just a quick, routine walk around your home, you can usually spot the 3 top issues below with your gutter system well before they become big problems.
Top 3 Common Issues with Rain Gutters
#1 - Debris in Your Rain Gutter System
Most debris, such as dirt, roof shingle material, and falling leaves from trees will gradually build up over time in your gutter system. So it's not easy to spot this unless you get a ladder and have a look in your gutters every few months. Once this finer material builds up, you can get secondary debris issues such as plant material like weeds and grasses actually growing out of your gutters! Even worse, that type of material can attract rodents like rats, birds, or small animals like squirrels who find neglected rain gutters the perfect home.
#2 - Leaky Rain Gutters
The second most common tell-tale sign of issues with your rain gutter system are leaks. After a rain, walk around your home and check if there is any water spilling over the top (a sign that your gutters are full of debris and need cleaned), or water leaking from connections (a sign that there may be a clog in the system or a failure on one of the connections). If it hasn't been raining recently, look for discoloration on the gutters or downspouts (a sign that water and material has been leaking there in the past). Another thing to check is right below the downspouts or right below the gutters themselves. If the dirt is washed out, it could mean that an excess of water (due to a clog or debris) has been hitting the ground from the gutter system.
#3 - Loose Gutters and Downspouts
The third most common issue to look out for is loose gutters and downspouts. Walk around your home and check where downspouts and gutters are fastened and ensure they are secure. If not, it could be the weight of built up debris that has caused the connection to lose integrity, or it could simply be a broken connection. The important thing is not to ignore this! This can lead to broken gutters and costly repairs, not to manage damage to to your home's roof fascia, foundation, and even walls from the gutter system not working properly.
Don't let rain gutter maintenance go!
The bottom line ... don't ignore your gutters. They may be "quite" for months, or even over a year and you don't notice any particular problems, but the longer they go without basic cleaning, the bigger your problems can get.
Rather than risk getting on ladders and performing proper maintenance yourself, your easiest solution is to hire a professional.
You can also invest in rain gutter guards to help minimize the debris that makes it into your gutter system (they will also keep rodents and other animals out), but you'll still need to do regular cleaning for the smaller material that naturally accumulates in gutters.