How to Protect Gutters from Pine Needles

There is a reason many of the households residing within the Lower Mainland have chosen this neck of the country as their home. The Pacific Northwest landscape is incomparable, with rich pines jetting out from the slopes that bookend the communities that define our places within the region. Many of you have purchased a home in-part because of the front and/or backyards that have pines standing as sentries, providing aesthetic comfort, a place for tire swings to be hung, and a refuge for neighborhood pets (and the squirrels they chase). Yes, the 22 species in our province are a blessing, for the most part. However, when it comes to the gutters lining the ledge of your home’s roof, pines and their pesky needles can be a pain.

While autumn is prime time, pines shed needles throughout the year. These needles are unlike the leaves that fall from the other trees surrounding your home. Because of their small size, their build-up is far less noticeable yet just as impactful on the health of your gutter system, especially when they go unchecked. Clumps of pine needles will penetrate the smallest of crevices and when wet become more adhesive than any other type of branch foliage by-product. At that point other forms of debris passing through your gutters will collect upon the needles, adding to the clogging effect which will detrimentally impact your system. So, aside from chopping down the beloved pines surrounding your home, what can be done? Read further to find out.

How to Protect Your Home’s Gutter System from Pine Needles

1. Trim the Pine Branches that Meet or Exceed the Height of Your Home

One of the most proactive measures that you can take to prevent pine needles from making their way onto the roof of your home, and into your gutters, is to perform semi-annual tree-trimming. Identify the tree-to-roof line in your yard and proceed to trim the pine branches to minimize their reach. While it is obvious that there should be no overhang of branches above your roof whatsoever, you want to be mindful of pine branches ten to even twenty feet away (parallel) from your roof. The slightest wind gust can transfer loose needles from their polystelic shoots into your gutters. Trim the pines in the summer during dry spells and in the late autumn when needles are at the most volatile. Throughout the year, you will want to also care for your pines to prevent unnecessary needle shedding. Factors contributing stress on pine trees and intensifying needle-drop include drought, herbicides, root damage from excavation, and insect/disease damage. Be mindful of all of these factors to decrease the likelihood of needle loss, and flight.

2. Sweep Your Roof for Pine Needles Weekly and After Every Wind Storm

Add a roof sweep to your weekly list of household exterior chores. Many of you gutter-conscious households may have invested in a snow roof-rake for the winter, but when it comes to pine needles this otherwise great roof cleaning tool is less effective. If the surface of your roof is safely and easily accessible then getting on up there with a ladder and a sturdy outdoor broom or vacuum will do the trick. Otherwise you may want to consider a roof broom (essentially roof rakes that can manage leaves and small pine needles) which can either be found by visiting your local Lowes or HomeDepot or by logging onto the online-shopping likes of Amazon. Understand that when you perform this weekly routine, that you must sweep the needles away from the gutter’s trench, off of the roof entirely and not into the vessel that you are attempting to prevent build-up in, in the first place. While we recommend a weekly sweeping for pine needles, be sure not to wait until the scheduled day if there has been a moderate to major wind storm in your area, which can equal at least a week’s worth of pine needle pile-up within a few gusting hours.

3. Invest in Gutter Guards Made for Pine Needles

Traditional gutter guards prevent all sorts of debris from entering your gutter system. However, if you’ve invested in these wide-mesh metal guards and reside within close proximity to pine trees then you likely know by now that it wasn’t enough. When pine needles are of concern you will need to have gutter guards installed that either have  a non-stick micro-filter stainless steel mesh or a solid no-filter cover with strong PVC construction which will prevent any needle entry whatsoever. The latter will allow water to flow around the nose of the guard and through a slotted channel, as opposed to being filtered through the entire exterior surface. You will need to ensure that your chosen guard is not installed flat. Effective pine needle guards must be installed as close to your roof’s pitch as possible, minimizing any potential for needle (or any debris) build-up while allowing wind to blow off additional rubbish and refuse. Once again, your local hardware store should have fine-filter or solid cover gutter guards suitable to your needs.

By following the above three tips your gutters will be well on the way to a relatively needle-free existence. Should you have any concern about the existing condition of your gutters, or simply prefer to hand the cleaning and maintenance duties off to a professional we encourage you to contact AquaSeal at your earliest convenience.