From the Top

by Katie Lee

Roof and gutter cleaning: How important is it?

By Carol L. Carey

The roof and gutters of your facility are integral to its integrity. They both serve to protect your facility, customers, employees and contents.

When neglected, your roof and gutters can turn from a necessity into a nightmare. A debris-covered roof and clogged gutter systems can cause a leaky roof, leaving the interior with water damage and, potentially, structurual damage. A debris-laden roof also makes nice homes for pests, rodents, mold and honeycombs from bee infestations.

Letting roof and gutter cleanings go by the wayside can cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars, and a create a potential ticking time bomb filled with debris, insects and even critters — all hanging right above you. Even so, the roof and gutters are usually out of sight, out of mind. Are yours?

How Often Should Your Roof and Gutters be Inspected and Cleaned?

The “how often” question depends largely on where your facility is located, how many trees are around it, how dusty the area is, and what the potential for heavy rain-drenching weather might be. For example, for facilities along a hurricane-prone coast, I would recommend inspecting their roofs at the beginning of hurricane season. The last thing you want is a hurricane to drop a few inches of water on a weak roof and clogged gutter system. The roof could, potentially, collapse. In high foliage areas, inspect and clean roofs as soon as the leaves stop falling. In high dust and dirt (or high bird activity) areas, they should be inspected regularly — as these items not only clog your roof, but can damage your rooftop HVAC units (RTUs) too.

What is Included in the Roof and Gutter Inspection and Cleaning?

First, remove all debris on the main roof and canopies, ensuring that all drains are flowing properly. This includes the following areas:

  • Removal at gutter — main roof
  • Removal at interior clamping ring drains — main roof
  • Removal at front canopy gutters
  • Roof / drain debris removed from site
  • Clogged drains
  • Are there overflow scuppers?
  • Are there gas lines / support systems?
  • Is there ponding water between drains?
  • Remove all debris from main roof
  • Are there walk pads?
  • Is debris removal required on canopy / or other entrance roofs?
  • Is debris removal required on outbuildings and other entrance canopies?

Also includes contingency reporting:

  • Are there heat cables present? Where? What condition are they in? If they are in the gutter, do not touch or remove from the gutter.
  • Are there snow stops present? Where? In what condition? Does it look like there were more and now some are missing?
  • Are there bird deterrents present? What kinds? Conditions?
  • What’s the condition of the HVAC? Are any repairs needed?
  • Are there any safety issues / active leaks that were reported?
  • Are there any other heads-up items or repairs that need to be made?

Have your facilities do the job themselves or hire a professional?

Although cleaning the roof and gutters is a task most people can can do themselves, it can also be dangerous work. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, falls from ladders sent more than 240,000 Americans to hospital emergency rooms in 2009 (the most recent year available). While many commercial facilities have interior roof access hatches, do your employees know how to properly access the roof and properly check the gutters? Are they trained on safety equipment, lifts, potential roof damage, potential damage to the gutter system? The two biggest concerns are (1) safety and (2) damage caused to the facility — followed closely by the professionals knowing what they’re looking at and can they stop the problem before it gets worse? Keep in mind, roof and gutter prevention is measured in pennies, and repairs are measured in dollars.

During a cleaning, a professional should remove all debris from the roof, gutters and downspouts, and test all downspouts to ensure they are flowing freely. The cost of roof and gutter cleaning ranges depending on the size on the facility, type, length of gutters, height of facility and the scope of work.


Before hiring someone to clean your roof and gutters, check to ensure they carry proper liability and workers’ compensation insurance, understand the clear scope of work and have the right equipment. A company that can offer you combined services for a lower price can also help you meet your budgetary goals. Protect your facilities from damage while protecting your customers, employees and reputation!


— Carol L. Carey is CEO and co-founder of Superior Facility Service Group, Inc. Headquartered in metro Atlanta, Superior Facility Service Group is a family owned and operated company specializing in commercial maintenance and repair, bird control and prevention, and disaster restoration. For more information, email [email protected] or visit

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