What Should I Do About Clogged Gutters?

What Should I Do About Clogged Gutters?

Man clearing gutters

If your home has gutters, chances are it will become clogged from time to time. For some homeowners, clogged gutters are a concern that must be dealt with seasonally. For other homeowners, their gutters never or rarely seem to clog.

The difference is related to the number and type of trees around your home, if trees are directly over your roof, and whether or not your gutter system includes gutter guards.

What Causes Clogged Gutters?

There are a number of factors that are the most common causes of clogged gutters on your home requiring gutter cleaning.


Autumn is a beautiful time of year but also when most leaves will fall before winter arrives leaving homeowners with two tasks - raking and gutter cleaning. 

Leaves that fall from deciduous trees such as oak, elm, maple, ash, locust, poplar, and fruiting trees cause the greatest amount of material that can clog up your gutter systems.

Take, for instance, the oak tree, which can have between 200,000 and half a million leaves on one mature tree! When they fall, they fall!

Depending on how many trees you have in your yard and how close they are to your roof, you will either rake more or spend more time cleaning your gutters!

Pine Needles

Evergreen trees, such as pine trees, experience a seasonal needle drop that is a normal part of their plant life cycle. Like leaves of deciduous trees, pine needles do not remain attached to the tree indefinitely. 

As evergreen needles age, they turn yellow, then brown, and then drop off after one or more years. White pine, in particular, can drop a lot of needles - especially mature trees that tend to hold more yellowing needles than fresh green ones.

Seasonal needle drop is a concern for homeowners in regions with a large number of pine trees as they can result in clogged gutters. 

Besides the clogs that must be removed, the dead and dried out pine needles represent a potential fire hazard, especially in times of drought. 


Pollen doesn’t just cause clogs in our nasal passages for those who suffer from allergies, it can also clog your gutters!

While pollen grain diameter can vary greatly plant-to-plant from a few microns to over 100, as a collective, pollen can actually cause clogged gutters, resulting in disrupted water flow through your gutter system.

Most pollen is airborne in the springtime and, as it floats in the breeze it can land on your roof and end up in your gutters. More pollen is released into the air on rainy days than sunny, so wet spring seasons are of particular concern.

If you see yellow and green streaks in your gutters, then you have a fair amount of pollen collected. If rain water is spilling over your gutters rather than draining through them, the gutters may be clogged.

Flower Buds & Tree Seeds

Besides pollen, the springtime also delivers its share of flower buds and tree seeds that fall from flowering trees. In particular, those “helicopter” seeds from maple and elm trees, can cause a new round of raking your lawn along with the need to clean out your gutters. Because they are small and fairly light, the seed pods have a tendency to stick to surfaces once wet. Many will eventually make their way from your roof to your gutters, leaving the potential for clogs. 

Because of this, we recommend a seasonal spring gutter cleaning every year to remove any seeds, buds and pollen build-up. 

Storm Debris

Summer and winter storms both have the potential to deposit debris in your gutters. In the summer, heavy rain and windy thunderstorms can cause small limbs and leaves to fall from trees. If your home has many trees near or next to it, you have likely experienced the “storm shrapnel” that comes along with heavy wind and rain.

The greatest challenge with storm debris is that it can be a large amount of debris all at one time and the pieces can be quite large, causing not just clogs but also potential gutter and downspout damage. 

Removing the large limbs and other bits of tree from your roof and gutters should be done as soon as possible after a storm. Otherwise, as debris shifts from your roof to your gutters, you will experience greater clogging, water runoff, and potential water and gutter damage.

Winter storms that include snow and ice dams can be very dangerous for your gutters. The frozen water conditions trap debris and, once melting begins, water may not be able to reach the downspouts and will instead run over your gutters. Post-winter is another recommended time for seasonal gutter cleaning to clear out any debris caused by snow and ice buildup.

Animal Nests

Birds, squirrels, and other rodents are capable of building nests in your gutters, also causing clogs. Be on the lookout for any increase in animal activity on your roof so that you can prevent any nests from being built in the first place. 

Random Debris

One of the most common forms of random debris we come across are the remnants from Fourth of July fireworks! As people set off fireworks, the cardboard and other remains fall to the ground or sometimes onto your roof, ending up in your gutters.

We’ve also unclogged gutters and downspouts that had childrens toys, such as small balls in them. Gotta love those kids!

Dealing With Clogged Gutters

If you see any of the following warning signs, then you know you are due for a gutter cleaning:

  • Water is not flowing through your downspouts easily or water is running over your gutters
  • You notice more water collection around your foundation than normal
  • Lots of leaves or pine needles in your gutters
  • You see plants growing in your gutters
  • Tree limbs or other debris are in your gutters
  • Yellowish streaks on your gutters indicating pollen buildup

Ideally, clogged gutters are cleaned out two to three times per year based on a seasonal schedule and after the occasional heavy storm if a lot of debris has fallen on your roof.

Need Gutter Cleaning? Contact Ned Stevens

Look no further than Ned Stevens Gutter Cleaning of Long Island. We’ve been serving homeowners in Nassau County and Suffolk County since 1965 and offer on-demand as well as cost-saving contract options for seasonal gutter cleaning

Using our services, you will never have to worry about scheduling your gutter cleaning again!

Contact us today for your gutter cleaning, gutter repair, or gutter replacement needs.

Contact us today for a free estimate.

Erika Cruz

Erika began her career at Ned Stevens in September 2009 after 4 years of managing investment portfolios for banks and credit unions. She graduated with her business degree in Management in May of 2016 while working Full-time at Ned Stevens. With 11 years of gutter expertise, as office manager she is in charge of the day to day operation and is fully dedicated to her staff and customers.