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Reasons to Install Gutter Guards

Just about every house is equipped with rain gutters. They hang there below the roof eaves, just waiting for rain to fall so they can collect the water and direct it away from the walls and foundation of your house. You probably don’t think about them very often...unless you don’t have a gutter protection system installed. Then you have to clean out the gutters now and then—sometimes two to four times per year.

If your gutters were properly installed, they were sloped so that the water that comes in would run to and down the downspout. After a rain, the water runs out and the moisture remaining on the surface dries out. Often the gutter system includes some form of gutter protection system. What does that mean? It means gutter guards, gutter covers, gutter screens, or gutter filters that prevent leaves, pine needles, twigs, tree flowers, seeds, seed pods, and other debris from getting into the gutters.

However, if you have no gutter protection system, or if some sections of the covers or screens have become dislodged or damaged, some (or maybe a lot) of debris has been getting into your gutters. Once there it may pile up and stay there, until you get up on a ladder, or hire someone else to get up on a ladder, and clean all of that stuff out.

So what? Well, a level of organic debris, whether shallow or the entire depth of the rain gutter, is an invitation for various kinds of things to move in and make it home. If you were aware of the presence of these unintended houseguests, you might decide you don’t want them living there with you.

If you have debris in the gutter, it can form a little dam inside the rain gutter. After the rainstorm is over this little dam allows a small pool of water to remain standing in the gutter. A pool of still water, whether small or large, is exactly what mosquitoes are looking for.

Mosquitoes can be a nuisance, or they can be dangerous. Those nasty female mosquitoes that want to suck your blood need the nutrients in blood in order to produce eggs, which they lay on the surface of standing water. Each one will lay several hundred eggs. The eggs hatch in 24 to 48 hours into mosquito “wigglers.” They swim around for 7 to 10 days, turn into pupae, which then hatch into new mosquitoes, and there you are, in the yard below the rain gutter, just waiting to be bitten.

That crop of mosquitoes will probably not be very welcome at your evening yard party. In addition, they can be dangerous. Mosquitoes are carriers of many kinds of diseases. Malaria is one of the most infamous, although this problem has been practically eliminated in the U.S. However, West Nile Virus (WNV) has been a recent concern. Birds often carry the virus. Mosquitoes bite birds and get infected. Mosquitoes then bite humans and infect us, and we get sick.

In 2007, the CDC reported 3,630 cases of human WNV in the U.S. Of those who got sick, 123 died. That doesn’t sound like a terrible problem—unless you or a loved one was one of the 123. Moreover, no one knows what disease mosquitoes will cause us to share next.

Another group of flying pests who might decide your rain gutter is just the home they have been looking for are the various kinds of bees, wasps, and hornets. If you don’t know they are there, it can be a real surprise when you go to clean out the debris in the gutter. They think you are trying to invade their home (which you are) and they don’t understand that they have already invaded your home. Their way of telling you to go away is to sting you. Did you ever see someone try to run when they were standing on top of a ladder? Not a pretty sight—nor is it a very safe one if you are the person on the ladder.

In addition to the flying pests, other living things may take up residence. If the rain gutters are full of debris and water, some of the water is going to spill over, possibly wetting down the fascia board behind the gutter, or the wall of your house or foundation. This moist surface could be the perfect place for fungus, mold, mildew, or moss to start growing. The long-term presence of moisture and basic life forms like lichen (a kind of fungus) causes granite rock to gradually break down. Imagine what a permanent layer of moisture and growing stuff can do to your paint, siding, and foundation.

Clean out the rain gutters and install an effective rain gutter protection system on your house. Review the options, and decide what kind of system will work best for you, whether gutter guards, gutter covers, gutter screens, or gutter filters. Then get to work, or call a gutter contractor to get this project going.