Cleaning gutters may not be a particularly fun way to spend an afternoon, but keeping them clear and well-maintained helps to protect your home, from its siding to foundation. Gutters that aren’t cleaned and regularly maintained can result in heavy damage to your foundations with associated costs of thousands of dollars. It is tempting to repair the gutters yourself if they’re in disrepair, but before doing so, it’s important to consider common mistakes made while repairing your own gutters. As a result, it’s important to take care of your gutters and view this activity as a necessary part of the upkeep of your home to minimize maintenance work down the road.
How to Clean Your Gutters, Step-by-Step
First off, it’s essential to wear a long-sleeved shirt and rubber gloves. Make sure you’re not wearing new or expensive clothing, as the chance that things are going to get messy is pretty high. You will need a ladder, preferably one that has standoff stabilizers (also known as ladder ‘horns’) so that when you rest the ladder on the guttering there is no risk of damaging it.
You will also need a scoop to gather up the leaves and gunk, as well as something to dump the gunk into. If you want to do a quick job and aren’t worried about the appearance of your garden, you can even just throw the gunk onto the grass: just make sure not to splash it onto your face in the process!
Cleaning the Gutters
Cleaning a gutter can be a time-consuming activity but it’s well worth it once you consider the positive impact that fully functional gutters make on the durability and integrity of your home. If you wish to use a scoop but don’t have one, your local hardware store will likely have one to suit your needs. Alternatively, you might be content to just lift the dirt and debris with your gloved hand. If you want to do a tidy job, have a large trash bag handy for emptying the gunk into. Work your way slowly and carefully around the house, adjusting the positioning of your ladder when necessary.
You might wish to find a faster way to do your guttering, but this will require spending a bit of money. Investing in a leaf blower can save you a lot of time. There are even specialized gutter cleaning kits available that can be attached to leaf blowers for even more convenience. The specific method you use to clean your gutter is entirely up to you: the main purpose of cleaning the gutter is to ensure leaves, dirt, twigs, and other debris are not blocking the guttering. A blocked gutter is an ineffective one: if it has any debris in it, it will not be able to carry out its draining function to full capacity.
The most important thing to remember when you’re carrying out maintenance on your gutter is safety. Make sure you’re confident in using a ladder and know how to position it correctly before attempting to do any maintenance in or around the roof of your home.
Once you’ve gone around the entire guttering perimeter of your home and cleared away the leaves and gunk, your final step is to rinse the guttering to remove any remaining dirt and debris. This is where the garden hose comes in handy.
It’s best if you have a really long hose that can extend to the furthest edge of your house but if you don’t, you can make do with filling a bucket with water and rinsing the guttering this way instead. Once you have the hose in hand, go up the ladder again and either have the hose already switched on or get an extra person to turn it on once you’re positioned correctly.
High pressure hoses are the best type of hose to flush the guttering efficiently. Flush the gutters and downspouts with the hose, and while you’re at it this is the perfect opportunity to look for any leaks or weak spots in the guttering.
Turn off the hose when you’re done, and your guttering is now clean and sparkling. Now you can rest easy that your guttering will carry out its job and protect your house from damage caused by water running where it shouldn’t.
There are a number of types of gutter covers available to buy if you want to reduce the time you spend on cleaning your guttering. Mesh screens, clip-on grates, and porous foam are all options that cover the gutter and prevent leaves and debris from falling into it. Sometimes the cost of these solutions can be more than the gutters themselves, and they don’t fix every problem: small debris can still make its way to the protected gutter through the holes. It’s entirely up to you, the homeowner, but do keep in mind that gutter covers require maintenance too.
Gutter Cleaning Frequency
You should aim to clean your gutters at least once or twice a year. If any of the parts of the gutter lie directly under tall trees, or if you live in a climate that has frequent thunderstorms, you should aim to clean your gutters more often: ideally once every two or three months.
If cleaning your gutters seems to be getting you nowhere, and you’re noticing leaking and poor drainage during wet weather, you may need to think about gutter replacement and installation. Gutters may not be the crowning glory of your home, but you’d be surprised how important they are in protecting your investment from water damage. Installing gutters right the first time can save you bundles down the road, and save you from the unnecessary headache of having to have them replaced entirely. Installing gutters with the wrong pitch, using the wrong type of gutter, incorrect placement, incorrect hanger spacing, and using too many seams are common mistakes enthusiastic homeowners make when they install guttering, so it may be wiser to leave it to the professionals.