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How to inspect your gutters

We see gutters all the time that are in terrible shape. These entry points provide access into the attic for rats, squirrels, and other wildlife. Find out below how to keep your gutters in tip-top shape to protect the largest single investment you’ll ever make, your home.

What causes gutters to fail

Clogged downspouts are the primary thing that caused gutters to ultimately fail. Once a downspout gets clogged the gutter slowly fills up with water and becomes significantly heavier. This puts strain on the facia board and slowly pulls the gutter away from the home over time. If the downspout is clogged then the only way for water to drain out is by spilling over the side of the gutter. This can cause water damage to the facia board, roof, and support joists and potential foundation damage as well. As the faciaboard gets damaged it provides a less stable environment for the gutter to attach to, thus causing the gutter to pull away from the house further. 

These factors combined can cause gutters to sag, and facia board to rot away – thus providing entry for rodents, squirrels, and other wildlife. Keep in mind that gutters and facia board will naturally breakdown over time as well. Just like a roof, gutters need to be maintained, and eventually replaced. Most gutters should last 15-20 years at a minimum and can often last for 50+ years depending on the material. 

Tools needed

In order to inspect your gutter you will need the following tools:

  • Ladder
  • Gloves
  • Bucket or bag for debris

Removal of debris/leaves

Make sure to clear your gutter of all debris. Go along the roof line and remove all leaves, moss, and pine needles that could clog your gutter. Make sure that your downspouts are clear. Consider using a metal filter at the top of your downspout to make sure that debris doesn’t fall into it. Filters should be cleaned regularly to prevent the downspouts from clogging.


While you’re removing the debris is a great time to do a thorough inspection to look for any sagging or rotten facia board. You can tell when gutters are in need of repair because the nails will cease staying into the facia board. Also inspect for any large dents or misshapen gutters as that can affect the flow of water. Any damaged gutters or facia board should be replaced by a local gutter company. We recommend Action NorthWest (https://actionwindowandguttercleaning.com) for a local Portland-area gutter repair company. They provide cleaning and maintenance for roofs and gutters, but also do repair work on gutters/facia board. Another great option for local Portland area gutter & window cleaning is Perfect Panes PDX (https://perfectpanespdx.com). 

Attic inspection

If you find rotten or missing facia board it would be wise to inspect your attic for rodent activity. If you find droppings or nesting in the attic then you should set traps and make sure to get the entry points sealed up. We can help with this process if needed. Squirrels should be removed using a one-way door. Also, you might need a full attic restoration depending on how bad the infestation is. If the insulation is filled with droppings, urine, and nesting material then it is often a wise solution to simply remove it and install new insulation. Old infested insulation attracts future generations of rodents and squirrels so making sure it’s cleaned up well can help tremendously with preventing future infestations.


Check your downspouts for any blockage. Blockage can be removed either by applying higher water pressure and flushing out debris, or by manually cleaning the downspout. Don’t forget to ensure that all downspouts point well away from the home. Use an extender pipe if necessary. If a downspout drains too close to the home it can cause foundation damage and potential flooding which can be very expensive to remedy.

Inspect and clean your gutters once or twice a year as needed to ensure they are kept in good shape. Just like anything, if you maintain it correctly, it will last much longer and you won’t have to deal with as many large scale emergencies due to neglect. 


If you have any questions or need assistance with any attic inspections or pest issues please text us at 503-985-6523.

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