Muddy sludge in gutter from decomposed leaves

The Breakdown of Leaf Matter in Gutters

Have you ever wondered what happens to leaves when they fall into gutters and why it’s so important to remove them? Let’s find out more!

What is the life cycle of leaves in gutters?

1. Leaf fall in gutters

It’s unavoidable, really. Unless you’ve got a top tier gutter guard installed, leaves and twigs and other bits of debris are going to end up in your gutters. Whether they’re transported there by animals or blown in by the wind, there’s no escaping the fact that gutters are basically the perfect leaf traps.

2. Leaves get stuck and clump together

If enough leaves fall into the gutter system, with the slightest bit of water, they will clump together and form leaf piles that are moulded into the shape of the gutter, packing it full and blocking off the flow of water.

3. Leaves dry out in the warmer, drier months or stay wet and clump together in colder, damper months

At times, during the warmer, drier months, your leaf problem may solve itself as they dry out. They can become lighter and may be carried out of the gutter by the breeze. More often than not though, they stay clumped, especially during the colder, wetter seasons and even outside of those seasons if the gutter is constantly in a shady spot.

4. Leaves decompose

When the leaves are left long enough in damp conditions, the clumps eventually decompose into muddy piles of leaf matter that are quite smelly and much harder to remove/clean.

Decomposing leaves in gutter

What damage can decomposing leaves cause in gutters?

When leaves break down and create mud piles, they become the perfect hosts for moss, lichen and plant growth due to the warm, moist nature of the piles. They also attract insects and other pests.

Warm and moist is not what we want when timber homes are involved either. As the piles of decomposed leaves grow and spread, they may end up moving out of the gutter and onto the timber eaves or other areas around the roof. Mould, mildew and lichen can spread, causing wood to begin to rot and eventually leading to structural damage.

Damp conditions may also contribute to premature rusting of roofing and gutters which can be a costly expense if left untreated for too long.

What can you use leaf litter from gutters for?

Once removed, these leafy mud piles generally make great mulch for gardens. At least they’re good for something!

If you’ve got piles of leaves blocking your gutters, you’re risking the health and safety of anyone who enters your home.

At Leafshield, we make it our business to provide safe solutions for a range of gutter problems. From high quality gutter cleaning to professional installation of quality pest proof, fire rated and, of course, leaf proof gutter guard, we’ve got you covered.

Get in touch by visiting the contact page on our website, or simply call 1300 LEAFSHIELD (1300 532 374) to speak with one of our friendly gutter protection system experts.