Handyman Installing Gutter Guards

8 Unexpected Dangers of Clogged Gutters


Your home is your greatest investment and everybody knows that it takes a little bit of time and effort to keep that investment safe, comfortable, and in great condition. Cleaning gutters is one of the tasks that many homeowners sometimes disregard or forget, but it is actually a very important one that doesn’t take a lot of time, effort or money.

Clogged gutters can lead to a number of more serious problems and some very unexpected consequences. Find out what some of these main dangers to your home are and why you should inspect and clean your gutters regularly. 

Before we list all the dangers of clogged gutters and provide a detailed explanation of each one, let’s first define what is meant by the term ‘clogged gutter’.

Clogged Gutters Meaning

If your downspout is obstructed by leaves, twigs, or other debris, it means that you have a clogged drain. Because gutters are an essential part of the roof drainage system, blockages can cause significant problems since water can seep through and cause immeasurable damage to your home.

8 Unexpected Dangers of Clogged Gutters

Here is a list of 8 +unexpected dangers of clogged gutters and what kind of damage can it cause:

  • Clogs Can Lead to Roof Damage,
  • You Are at Risk of Basement Flooding,
  • Clogged Gutters Can Cause Foundation Damage,
  • Fascia Boards Can Be Damaged,
  • Clogs Can Lead to Shifts and Cracks in Driveways and Sidewalks,
  • Your Landscape May Be Ruined,
  • Increased Chance of Ice Dams, and
  • Clogs Can Be a Fire Hazard.

Let’s dive in a little bit deeper and explain every danger of clogged gutters slightly more.

1. Clogs Can Lead to Roof Damage

A fully functioning gutter system is essential for an equally functioning roof. Your roof is there to protect you and your house from the weather and the elements, but it cannot do its job if the gutter system isn’t there to divert the water away from the house. 

When the gutters are clogged there is a high risk of water pooling on the roof, as it cannot flow away, which can cause damages and rotting of the roof, as well as cracks and possible leaks. 

Rotting of the roof and leaks can lead to some very costly repairs, as well as cause mold and mildew to grow which, in turn, can cause health problems.

Can Clogged Gutters Cause Ceiling Leaks?

A common cause of ceiling leaks is a blocked drain. If the drain becomes clogged and water cannot flow through the proper passage, it may break through the walls and other structures of the roof, ultimately causing leaks on the ceiling. The challenge then becomes finding the source of the leak, therefore, if you find yourself in this situation, it is best to consult a professional roofer with experience to resolve the issue.

2. You Are at Risk of Basement Flooding

With the water pooling on the roof or stagnant in your gutters, it can very easily seep into your basement, or even the lower floor, and flood it. 

Basement flooding is a very serious problem – it is a safety risk as well as one of the most expensive problems to resolve. 

Water seeping in your basement may reach your wiring and result in gas leaks or electrical shocks, which are some of the most severe risks. 

3. Clogged Gutters Can Cause Foundation Damage

Apart from the basement, water can also seep into your foundations when your gutters are clogged. Clogs prevent the gutter system to lead the water away from your home and therefore may cause the water to pool around your home. 

When the problem is not resolved on time, this can result in water seeping below the ground and into your foundations. The water then causes expansions and possible cracks in the foundation which affect the structural integrity of the house and make it unsafe. 

4. Fascia Boards Can Be Damaged

The fascia boards are located in the exterior of your home’s structure and they are used to support the gutter system. These boards are most often made of wood and therefore very vulnerable and susceptible to damage and rot. 

When the gutters are clogged and filled with water, that water will then reach the wood, the fascia, and the siding of your house, causing it to rot and deteriorate. 

This deterioration results in substantial damages to the structure of your home, very costly and extensive repairs, as well as possible mold and mildew problem.

5. Clogs Can Lead to Shifts and Cracks in Driveways and Sidewalks

One of the most frequent issues that is caused by clogged gutters and poor drainage is the water seeping and pooling on your driveways and sidewalks, as well as under them. 

Similarly to the problems with foundations, this water can also cause the driveways and sidewalks to expand and crack – the concrete and the asphalt will crack and shift under the influence of water, and you will again be left with some expensive repair work. 

The cracks and shifts in the driveways can also be a safety hazard, as you or your family members can easily slip and fall on them, so it is important to try and prevent that from happening.   

6. Your Landscape May Be Ruined

When gutters are clogged and the water blocked from running freely and away from your home, that water can then splash out and seep into areas where it shouldn’t. 

Torrents of water can spill over the side of the gutter and into your landscape – your flower beds, garden, trees or shrubs. In the process, the water can wash away your mulch, your plants can be killed and destroyed due to the excess of water, and some unwanted and harmful pests can even be attracted. 

Apart from damaging your curb appeal, you will also be left with a significant mess on your landscape and a time-consuming and costly task of dealing with it.      

7. Increased Chance of Ice Dams

In colder climates or during the colder parts of the year, there is sometimes the risk of ice dams forming on your home, especially on your gutters and the lower edges of the roof. This usually happens during cold and wet seasons when low temperatures cause the water from rain or melted snow to freeze. 

When your gutters are clogged, there will be a greater amount of water present as it cannot drain properly. This significantly increases the risk of ice dams forming, which can, in turn, cause the water to pool when they melt and seep into your home. 

8. Clogs Can Be a Fire Hazard

One of the probably least expected dangers of clogged gutters is a fire. It is not very often that it happens, but it is possible and therefore should not be ignored. 

Any accumulated debris in your gutters, such as leaves and branches, becomes a fire hazard, especially in dry areas and during hot and dry weather. Apart from that, if the water from the clogged gutter seeps into your basement and reaches your electrical wiring, you are also at risk of electrical fires.

How Do I Know if My Gutters Are Clogged?

There are certain telltale indicators of gutter obstruction:

  1. Overflowing water,
  2. Sagging gutters,
  3. Water damage,
  4. Pest infestations, and
  5. Plant growth.

Overflowing water

If water is overflowing from the gutters during a rainstorm, it could be a sign that they are clogged and not draining properly.

Sagging gutters

Clogged gutters can become heavy with debris and water, causing them to sag and pull away from the roofline.

Water damage

If water is not properly draining from your gutters, it can cause damage to your roof, siding, and foundation.

Pest infestations 

Standing water in clogged gutters can attract pests like mosquitoes and rodents.

Plant growth

If you notice plants or weeds growing out of your gutters, it’s a sure sign that they are clogged and not draining properly.

How to Do a Proper Gutter Cleaning

Here are the steps for doing a proper gutter cleaning:

  • Gather your equipment (ladder, work gloves, a garden scoop, a trash bag, a hose with a spray nozzle, etc.),
  • Place the ladder,
  • Use the garden scoop to remove debris from the gutters,
  • Place the debris in the trash bag, 
  • Flush out the gutters with the hose and a spray nozzle,
  • Make a final check of the downspouts, and 
  • Check the gutters for any leaks or damage that may need to be repaired.

What Can You Do

In order to prevent all of the mentioned dangers of clogged gutters, and save yourself and your family the safety risks and costly repairs, it is important to take some preventive steps and stay ahead of the problem. 

This can be done by simply inspecting and cleaning your gutters regularly, in spring and fall. Apart from that, installing gutter guards is highly recommended by professionals, as they will help keep the debris out of the gutter system. 

If you encounter any of the problems mentioned above or if you are not confident that you can clean your gutters properly and thoroughly, you can always call a professional Woodbridge roofing company and leave it to them.