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Why Does Algae Grow In My Gutters & How Should I Clean It?

A brand new gutter system gives your home a facelift right away. Whether they blend in with your siding or coordinate with your shutters and trim for a pleasant contrast, there’s no doubt that an attractive set of gutters makes a difference in your home’s appearance. Many homeowners wonder how to keep those gutters looking great and functioning well for a long time in the future. With some preventative gutter maintenance, this is easy to do! Read on to learn about one of the most common gutter appearance issues: algae growth. 

Why does algae form on my gutters?

If you’ve ever looked up at your house gutters and wondered, “How did that green stuff get up there?”, you can blame the wind to start. Tiny algae spores travel in the air in search of a damp, shaded place to land- the perfect habitat. Sometimes, birds and squirrels carry those spores too, so when they pay your home a visit, they may bring unwanted guests. Since your roof has a large surface area, it’s particularly susceptible to algae growth.

The perfect environment for algae in gutters involves a lot of moisture, shade, and just enough sunlight for the spores to grow and spread. Clogged gutters, which create an abundance of water, are even more prone to algae growth. 

Sooner or later, the algae on gutters create unsightly dark patches or streaks. When rain falls on your house, some of those spores drain from the roof into your gutters. Given the right levels of moisture and light, algae can easily pick up right where it left off on the roof and form patches on your gutters as well. 

Why is algae in gutters bad?

Sure, it’s ugly, but is there anything actually wrong with letting algae take over your gutters? Absolutely. Major growth can clog your downspouts and back up your gutter drainage system, which is bad news for your whole exterior. (Psst- this is also true for other debris, such as pine needles, helicopter seeds, and leaves!) Algae accumulations can also shorten your shingle life because algae feeds on limestone, weakening the shingle. There’s also a safety issue- an algae bloom on your roof could cause you to slip and fall. 

How do I prevent algae on gutters?

The best way to prevent algae from taking up residence on your house gutters is to make a very inhospitable environment. Copper and zinc strips installed on the roof help keep the blooms minimal. In addition, if your house is in a highly shaded area, trimming back some of those branches can allow more sunlight to hit your roof. That way, algae has less of a chance to take root. This has the added benefit of reducing the risk of other plants growing in your gutters, since seeds will have a slightly less direct path to the rain gutter trough.

How to clean algae off gutters

If algae has already taken root or you’re noticing plants growing in your gutters, it’s not too late to do something about it. That greenish stain should come off with some elbow grease. While it’s possible to pressure wash a roof, it’s not always a good choice for the longevity of your asphalt shingles or gutter drainage system. Instead, go with a bleach and water solution that can be gently scrubbed onto the affected surfaces. Vinegar can also help, if you don’t have bleach handy. The same approach can be used for clearing moss from gutters–you’ll want to use a soft-bristled scrubbing brush!

Eliminate algae on gutters with expert advice

Professional gutter and roof cleaners will help assess the situation and determine the safest way to kill existing algae blooms. If your roof or gutters are already damaged, they can provide expert advice on whether you need to clean, repair, or replace your gutters. 

Contact us today for a complimentary inspection.