Your gutters may seem like a fairly peripheral system, but they're actually integral to protecting your house from water damage and other problems. If your gutters have sprung a leak or filled up with leaves and you don't get on top of it right away, you could have problems. Here are a few of the issues that can develop in this situation.

1. Gutters may rust out

Some common gutter repairs you may need to do include repainting, repairing small holes, and replacing failed fasteners. If your gutter needs repainting, neglecting the repair is a bad idea because the paint protects the metal from the elements, and without an intact coat of paint, rust can form. The same goes for small holes and leaks in the gutter; these provide an opportunity for water to get to the metal, and rust can form and quickly spread until the entire length of gutter needs to be replaced.

2. Gutters may damage siding and windows

If you have a leak or a failed fastener is causing water to dump out where it shouldn't, your gutter could be splashing water on your window frames any time there is water in it. This can put a real strain on your window's water resistance. If any water does penetrate, you could then be dealing with rot issues in and around your window. Spilling water on the siding can cause problems, too; if it's wood siding, rot and mold can happen. Even if it's vinyl siding, it can still stain. 

3. Gutters may pour water on your foundation

Even worse than rotted out windows that need replacing is foundation damage. Almost any serious gutter damage is likely to let water escape where it shouldn't, putting it right by your foundation wall. This can cause several problems for your foundation. First, it increases the pressure placed on the wall by expanding, wet soil (which can cause foundation walls to collapse). Second, it can leach into the wall, freeze there, and expand, causing cracks. Third, it can make its way into your basement and cause a costly and hazardous mold problem

4. Gutters may attract wildlife

If your gutters are neglected, birds and critters (as well as plants) may be attracted to them. The nice leaf-filled lengths can provide a comfy place to snuggle, and plants just love putting their roots down in rotting leaves. Unfortunately, these interlopers can often cause further damage to your house. For example, raccoons sometimes tear out the soffit in order to gain access to attics.

These are just a few of the complications that can occur if you're ignoring your gutters' condition. If there's some reason you can't complete repairs or maintenance on your own, be sure to hire a gutter systems contractor to get the job done.