There’s a new chill in the air, and soon there will be more leaves on the ground than on the trees. The Midwest winter is peeking around the corner. Before you put away the lawn chairs and oil the snowblower, take one more stroll around your house and examine your gutters and downspouts for leaks. This simple activity may prove critical in saving your home from major damage.

The leaves don’t just disappear; many of them fall into your gutter. The extra bulk of leaves and debris can cause your gutters to sag and split, allowing water to back up under the roof system, stream along the outside walls, and even find its way into the interior of your home.

This silent menace brings a host of friends – roof damage, mold rot, deterioration of exterior walls, and a fertile environment for insect infestation. Water that enters the interior of your home can destroy sheetrock, carpet, wood flooring, etc., as well as open the door to mold issues. Untreated over time, water damage can even soften and weaken critical support beams.

You may have healthy, sturdy gutters, but gravity and wind have caused your downspouts to split, leak, and dislodge. If these downspouts, designed to carry water away from your home’s foundation, don’t do their job, you can have damage to landscaping and possibly a cracked and damaged foundation.  And an unaddressed leak onto walkways can result in dangerously icy surfaces when temperatures drop below freezing.

Of course, strolling around your home only gives you the bottom view of gutters, hiding bulky debris and minor sagging from your view. Adding winter snow to the mix can escalate even minor problems quickly. But before you climb that ladder, consider calling a gutter and roofing professional who can safely clean and assess the health of your system, and, if needed, make the repairs before the winter snows arrive.