Roof and gutter cleaning is often low on a long list of priorities for many homeowners. It’s unpleasant, dirty work. Add to that the danger of working up on the roof, and it makes sense why so many homeowners put it off.
It’s also one of those “out of sight, out of mind” jobs. Since you can’t see the muck building up or the water damage starting to take place, you’re less inclined to hop on the ladder and start cleaning.
Unfortunately, ignoring this job can lead to serious water damage and pest infestations.
A clogged gutter is the perfect habitat for a range of pesky pests and curious creatures. When these creatures take up residence in your gutters, you can expect several problems to emerge.
Firstly, the build-up of debris and insects and animals that come with it can seriously damage your gutters and your roof. With damaged gutters, you can expect water damage, like stains to exterior walls, leaks in your ceiling and even cracks in your foundations.
The gutters and any nearby roof damage can quickly become a point of entry for pests, allowing them to get into the roof space and walls and start to nest. For example, an overloaded gutter can pull away from the house, creating a hole for animals and insects to enter through.
Once inside your home, insects and animals can do serious damage to insulation, wires and even structural materials, leading to all sorts of costly repairs. Many of these pests can also pose serious health risks to your family, including carrying diseases and having toxic bites or stings.
So, let’s have a look at some of the nasties that are attracted to dirty gutters.
Mosquitoes breed in standing water. While gutters are designed to move water away from your home, if they’re clogged, they can’t do the job. Water can start pooling on your roof or around your home, providing a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.
And mosquitoes are more than just an annoyance. Australian mosquitoes can carry and transmit a number of viruses, including Dengue fever, Murray Valley encephalitis, Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus.
Mice and rats
Piles of dirt, leaves and twigs make perfect nests for mice and rats. These pests are almost guaranteed to then make the short trip from the gutter to the inside of your home.
Mice, rats and similar rodents pose serious health risks. Their droppings and bites can transmit a number of diseases, including bacterial infections such as salmonella, fungal infections like ringworm, viral infections like Ross River virus and more. Symptoms can range from mild fevers or flu, to skin conditions and hair loss, muscle pains to extreme illness and even death.
The material in a clogged gutter, and the insects it attracts, can attract birds. While birds are less likely to cause illnesses in people, their nests can easily further clog gutters, increasing water damage. Additionally, bird droppings can be corrosive to roof materials if left to build up.
Enterprising snakes may climb into your gutters via a downspout or from an overhanging branch. Once there, they may find your gutter is perfect for sunbathing. The warm metal increases their internal temperature and the debris provides them shelter from potential predators like birds.
The majority of snakes found in Australia are less than friendly towards humans. Some common Australian snakes include Tiger Snakes, Eastern Brown Snakes, Copperheads and Red-Bellied Black Snakes. A bite from any of these snakes should be treated with antivenom and may potentially require hospitalisation to prevent serious harm or even death.
Like snakes, Australia has an impressive array of spiders capable of delivering a nasty bite. The leaf litter in a clogged gutter can be particularly attractive for spiders to make a home. This can be especially true if there is a good supply of insects nearby.
While their venom may be less deadly than that of snakes, spider bites can cause intense pain, swelling and nausea.
A gutter full of leaves and twigs can also provide water and shelter for wasps. They may choose to build a nest there and become aggressive when approached. In extreme cases, you may not be able to go near certain parts of your home’s exterior without the risk of being stung.
A sting from a wasp is unlikely to be fatal unless you have an allergy. However, they are incredibly painful. Read our another post on Why Roof Cleaning is Important
The best way to keep your gutters free of these critters is to regularly clean them. Without leaves and debris to shelter or nest in, pests will be less likely to take up residence. Additionally, keeping your gutters clean means you reduce the risk of water damage to your property.