Clean gutters are a major part of home maintenance that should help your siding, roof, and foundations last a lot longer. If you’re a new homeowner looking to make this task a lot easier this year, read on for our top tips for cleaning gutters.
Knowing how to clean gutters properly will help your roof reach its durability potential. The backing up of rainwater could deteriorate your roof slowly, which could make your gutters sag and eventually detach from the eaves. Cleaning gutters will also help prevent ice dams in the winter, where water trapped in the gutters may freeze and expand under your shingles, damaging the underlying roof even further.
However, for most people, cleaning gutters is likely one of the more unpleasant chores. So what’s the best way to clean a gutter effectively, quickly, and above all safely? Well, the best way to clean gutters won’t be the same for every house, however, there are a few rules and tips to follow regardless of how your gutter system is laid out.
How often you should clean your gutters
It’s recommended that you clean your gutters at least annually. In case there are nearby trees, you might need to do the cleaning more than once a year. A great time to clean the gutters is late autumn, when all the leaves have fallen off but before the first snowfall and frost.
Practice ladder safety
Securing your ladder is perhaps the most important tip here. Ensure that each of your feet is on a sturdy surface and nothing can shift, like landscaping mulch or rocks. There might be sections of the gutter systems where you should avoid the landscaping. Securing yourself with a ladder stabilizer is perhaps the safest way to clean your gutters. Be sure to always ask for help if you’re ever unsure about your footing.
Consider getting a partner
Besides the extra layer of security, a partner could help to speed up the process by handing you the things you need from the ground and avoiding unnecessary climbing. If it has been a while since you’ve cleaned the gutters, you might want someone on the ground raking up the debris and leaves instead of having to fill bucket after bucket. Plus, another set of hands and eyes on the job comes with lots of other benefits.
How to clean gutters without a ladder
It’s generally safer to clean your gutters from the ground instead of on top of a ladder. However, the problem is you can’t see what you’re doing. A good way to clean gutters this way is by attaching a telescopic pole to your garden hose. These poles come with a looped end that helps focus water directly to the gutters. While using the telescopic attachment, start the downspout on the side and work your way away from it. Repeat the process, ideally starting from the opposite end, and work your way back to the downspout. Alternatively, you could also use a dry vacuum to perform this process if you have a long enough attachment and the debris isn’t wet.
Cleaning the downspouts
When you finish cleaning your gutters, the downspout cleaning process follows. If you want to check for blockages and test the efficacy of the water drainage, try aiming the hose into the downspout and have a partner help you see if the water is flowing freely. If nothing comes out or the water is flowing but dirty, you should continue running water through the downspouts to clear them. If you’re on the ground, consider aiming the hose stream onto the corner of your roof. This will let the water run down the shingles and into the downspout. If there are some tough blockages in the downspouts, consider using a plumber’s snake to clear them. You might be able to get rid of minor clogs by spraying high-pressure water through the downspout. Repeat this until the water is clear.
Use a power washer
Flushing your gutters once you’ve cleaned them is important as it ensures they are clear and ready for the next storm. You could use a regular garden hose, but an angled spray of a pressure washer should help make the gutters shine. Finishing up the cleaning with a pressure washer from the top of the line through the downspouts is the best approach. Rinse and test out the drainage.
Trim any trees and branches near the roof
To help keep your gutters clean throughout the year, you should address one of the potential sources of the problem. Overhanging branches and trees will continuously drop leaves and sticks on your roof all year long, and trimming them is a great solution to this. This will not only help you solve the problem at the source but will also help you avoid potential storm damage and boost your curb appeal.
Consider installing gutter guards
Gutter guards essentially keep dirt and debris from entering the gutters while still letting water flow through them. These guards are available in numerous varieties, including brush, foam, and mesh. Installing gutter guards means you will have to clean out the gutters less frequently. However, even with gutter guards, you still need to do some maintenance. Some gutter guards require regular cleaning or replacement (usually every few years). Others might be very expensive to install. However, if you have to clean your gutters more frequently and want to control this, then gutter guards could be a great investment.
Hopefully, these tips for cleaning your gutters will help make your home maintenance tasks a lot easier. Knowing how to clean your gutters is an important skill for any homeowner, not to mention a skill that you will be refining at least once in spring and once in fall. Familiarize yourself with these tips to ensure the gutter-cleaning task goes smoothly, season after season.