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Three gutter experts in weigh in on how often you really need to clean your gutters.

Clean your gutters regularly to avoid overflow and damage. Debris-ridden gutters can tear away from your house, overflow, or cause damage to your foundation and sidewalks. Our experts explain the details you need to know about gutter cleaning.

How often should homeowners clean their gutters?

Carey: Twice a year if you have oak trees. If you have pine trees, they may need to be cleaned quarterly, because pines shed a lot.

Rogers: We generally do it twice a year – in the fall and spring.

Crabtree: It depends on how many trees you have, but usually about four times a year.

What are the benefits of clean gutters?

Carey: If gutters overflow, the water just wraps around the roof and fascia and intrudes into the house or erodes the foundation.

Rogers: It prevents water from washing out around the foundation, prevents termites from being drawn to the moisture, and keeps mold and mildew from your walls.

Crabtree: Your downspouts and gutters won’t overflow and drip off the edges, which cases rotten wood.

What should I know when deciding to repair or replace my gutters?

Carey: The most common problem I see is material quality. People will buy cheap vinyl or thin metal gutters at do-it-yourself places. Having a seamless gutter is best, and it should be hung with internal hangers rather than spikes.

Rogers: Most installers now use hidden hangers instead of spikes. Ask if your company hand-cuts the miters so you only have one seam, and how far apart they put their hangers. One hanger every 30 inches is best.

Crabtree: Ask your contractor if they install the gutter primed to the roof edge, which makes it watertight. Make sure they use hand-cut corners, which have less chance of leaking. Ask if they use rivets rather than screws. Screws will rust.

How long should new gutters last?

Carey: Aluminum should never deteriorate. The material is warranted for 20 years. Galvanized steel will start rusting away in 15 or 20 years.

Rogers: You should get at least 20 years out of aluminum gutters. If they’re well-maintained, they can last up to 30 or 40 years.

Crabtree: If installed properly, an aluminum gutter will outlive the home. The material itself has a 20-year warranty.

What kind of license and insurance should I be looking for?

Carey: You can be licensed by the state or county, but I’d suggest someone with a county specialty license. The state roofing test only asks one question about gutters.

Rogers: Make sure they have workers’ compensation and liability insurance. Otherwise, if someone is injured at your house, they could go after your homeowner’s insurance.

Crabtree: You want someone who has worker’s comp and liability. They’re on your roof, and if anything happens to them without insurance, you’ll be held responsible.