You might have recently purchased your first home. Or you could be experiencing autumn in your new house for the first time. But either way, you’ve likely realized that there will come a time when you need to clean your gutters. While it’s not the most pleasant of tasks, there are many ways that you can make the process easier for yourself. Here are a few tips to help clear your gutters of debris that will help you increase the lifespan of your drainage system.
Why Should You Clean Your Gutters?
Cleaning gutters is definitely not a task you want to do every week, let alone every season. But cleaning your home’s gutters will help maintain your home’s drainage system. And it will also prevent water from building up where it shouldn’t. In turn, this will keep your roof from deteriorating over time. You should also consider the fact that debris from gutters can bring up larger issues, like rodents or bird nests.
If you’re wondering how often you should clean your gutters, we recommend cleaning them at least twice a year. At least once in the fall since the debris is likely to build up in the form of fallen leaves. And again in the spring.
What Tools Do You Need?
It might be tempting to clear your gutters with whatever’s on hand—i.e. a broom held out from a ladder (which we do not recommend). But it’s best to come prepared for every possibility. Gutter debris can range from sodden leaves to stuck-in limbs. So we recommend using rubber gloves or work gloves while tackling your gutters, so your hands stay free of cuts and scrapes.
Depending on when you last cleared the gutters, there might be other debris such as trash, animal nests, or even leaf matter from last season. To collect what you’re clearing, you might want to have a bucket on hand as well as some form of a scoop like a garden trowel.
If you’re planning to flush out the gutters with water, using a garden hose with a spray nozzle that you can easily control (i.e., won’t send you toppling off of a ladder), is a good option. This will ensure that your gutters are draining as they should and that they are clear of clogs.
But you might dislike the idea of digging around and removing clogs from your gutters by hand. In this case, consider investing in a Shop-Vac or a high-powered vacuum to remove leaves. You can also invest in a leaf blower to remove debris. This works very well if it’s dry-packed leaves. But if you do, make sure you’re downwind or out of the way before you start cleaning.
As with any task performed high up on a ladder, having a spotter and sensible shoes to grip the ladder rungs will help prevent accidents. Especially if you’re working with a building that’s higher than a single-story home.
Where Should You Begin?
Depending on how long it’s been since your gutters were last cleaned, amassing your tools and knowing the extent of the job you’re about to do is key. If it’s a routine check-up, wait for a day when there won’t be as much moisture pooled in the gutters. You will be able to remove debris with less effort. Make sure that you’re secure on your ladder or step stool. And remove all clutter near the downspout to start, and work your way back from it.
If your gutters aren’t draining the downspout is likely to be the source of the issue. So ensuring that the downspout is clean first will help the process. Flushing out the debris with a hose can help remove any hardened materials. You can buy gutter cleaning attachments for your hose to help with this.
If it’s possible for you to remove your downspout, doing so can help you remove large amounts of clogging. If not, inserting a hose and using water to remove blockages is the best method to remove debris. If you’re worried about the appearance of your gutters after you’ve unclogged them, you can use your hose or even a pressure washer to remove dirt and staining from the outsides.
In the event that your gutters are near power lines or too high to safely clean, it’s recommended that you look into professional cleaning services rather than attempt to clean the gutters yourself.
What Are Some Tips for Gutter Maintenance?
- If you experience heavy rainfall or harsh storms, make sure that you’re checking on your gutters to make sure they’re free of clogs or blockages.
- From time to time, ensure that nothing is blocking the downspout or has fallen down that could prevent your gutters from draining.
- If you notice that there’s still standing water in your gutters once they’ve been cleaned, it might mean that your gutters are not aligned or pitched correctly. You can install supports to realign the slope of your gutters if this is the case.
- Gutter guards can be installed to help prevent buildup in your gutters. It might be a good idea if your home sits beneath a lot of trees.
While cleaning gutters may not be the most fun thing in the world, it is an essential part of being a homeowner. By preventing your gutters from being clogged, you will prevent water damage and repair bills.