As seasons change, it’s important to be aware of threats that can damage your home, such as untreated gutters. Leaving them unmaintained poses serious risks for your home which may not be covered against by your homeowner's policy.
This is a slippery subject, so stay focused: losses sustained at home by damaged gutters may not be covered by your homeowner’s policy. However, there are preventative measures you should be taking to avoid the need to file a claim in the first place.
What you will learn:
- What bad gutters look like
- 5 risks of untreated gutters
- Is gutter damage covered by your homeowner’s policy?
- Hiring a professional vs doing it yourself
What Do Bad Gutters Look Like?
A gutter's function is to direct water away from your home’s exterior walls, windows, doors, and foundation, which prevents water from making its way inside. Cleaning your gutters throughout the year will increase its lifespan, but it will eventually need to be repaired or replaced to help protect your home.
Keep an eye out for some of these signs of a bad gutter:
- Visible rust or cracks on gutter frame
- Pools of water around home foundation
- Sagging, detached, or uneven gutters
- Overflowed or clogged with water
5 Risks of Untreated Gutters
Clogged gutters can damage your home and increase the potential for someone in the home to develop health issues. And while gutters are an essential part of your home, don't expect your insurer to pay for gutter-related damages. We discuss that later in this post.
So, what exactly are the risks that untreated gutters can cause?
Is Gutter Damage Covered by Your Homeowner’s Policy?
When it comes to gutter-related damage, there are a few exclusions from your policy to remember:
- Wear and tear: if your gutters are failing due to age, it most likely won’t be covered. It’s important to know your installation date and check your gutters before submitting a claim.
- Negligence: if your gutters are clogged due to a lack of cleaning and it causes damages to your home, it will not be covered.
As a homeowner, you must understand your policy and how maintaining your home can affect it. Make sure to study it thoroughly, you might be surprised at what you find!
Hiring a Professional vs. Doing It Yourself
You can always clean your own gutters, or you can hire a pro. Most homeowners prefer to rely on professionals for ongoing gutter maintenance. While it is a fairly dangerous job, it can be a DIY project you're up to the challenge. Let's take a quick look at the pros and cons of both options.
Doing It Yourself (DIY)
Regardless of how you choose to do it, you're going to climb that ladder, and safety should be the only thing on your mind when you do so. If you're feeling bold, consider these safety tips before starting:
- Have a safe and sturdy ladder
- Use a leaf blower or a hose
- Purchase a gutter cleaning kit that connects to your leaf blower
- Wear goggles, a dust mask, and gloves to prevent unwarranted contact with debris
- To clean it out by hand – use a gutter scoop or garden trowel; best to do when leaves are slightly damp
Keep in mind, thousands of people visit the emergency room every year due to ladder-related injuries. If you are unsure about your safety, then definitely consider hiring a professional to get the job done.
Almost ¼ million people visit the ER each year due to ladder-related injuries.
Hiring a Professional
As a homeowner, your safety, time, and budget are always a priority. While it is more expensive than doing it yourself, hiring a professional to maintain your gutters might be in your best interest for the speed and long-term effectiveness of the job.
Here are a few benefits to hiring a pro:
- The job will be done efficiently and quickly
- Long-term security of the gutters and your home
- A receipt of the service helps in the time of a claim for proof of maintenance
Consult Your Advisor
Untreated gutters present real serious risks to your home that can threaten your home’s contents, foundation, or roofing.
If you don't maintain your gutters regularly throughout the year, your insurer has a right to deny your claims, forcing you to pay out of pocket for repairs.
Unsure about your coverage? Talk to one of our home insurance experts for advice on your exposures and coverage related to gutter damage or any water damage in general.