How to Clean Gutters the Right Way

That first mild Saturday after a long winter is the perfect time to see what mess the snow was hiding for the last couple months, and how many leaves and debris your gutters have accumulated during the final transition from fall to winter.  Do you know how to clean gutters the proper way? Cleaning your gutters at least twice a year can prevent costly foundation damages to your home.

how to clean gutters

If ignored, gutters filled with debris can be home to insect infestations, cause roof and basement leaks and damage to landscaping.  Knowing how to clean gutters is essential for the upkeep of a home and should be done correctly.

Have the Right Equipment:

Being prepared for any household project will save you time and countless trips to the hardware store.  Before you start cleaning your gutters, make sure you check these items off your list.

Ladder

Gutter cleaning requires a sturdy, well-built ladder that can extend to the roof of your house.

Large Bucket and Trowel/Scoop

You’ll also need a bucket and a trowel to remove debris.  It’s better to refrain from tossing the debris directly onto your lawn, though. Using a bucket will save time later and skip the cleanup.

Gloves

Have a decent pair of gloves to protect your hands from whatever questionable gunk is stuck in your gutters!  Remember, it isn’t just leaves and twigs cluttering your gutters – animal droppings filled with bacteria are likely mixed in there, too.

Hose and Nozzle

Use a hose and nozzle to flush the gutters out. Any garden hose and nozzle attachment will work; just make sure you can utilize the full pressure.

Ladder Stabilizer (Optional)

Also known as a ladder horn, these stabilizers are great if you’re working on slanting landscape, climbing onto the roof or just need extra support when cleaning your gutters.  This is ideal to use if you’re working by yourself.  You can purchase a stabilizer for around $25 and assemble them in less than 10 minutes.

The Fail-Proof Way to Clean Gutters

Yes, there’s a wrong way to clean your gutters.  Many homeowners think that climbing onto the roof and grabbing their leaf blower to blast away debris is the best way to clean their gutters.  Sure, gutter cleaning can be done this way, but it’s not recommended.

It’s dangerous and ineffective, and will end up taking more time than using a trowel and a bucket, with the added potential of slipping and injuring yourself from a fall off the roof (even with homes that have a low-pitched roof).  Safety comes first when it comes to cleaning gutters, and that includes a sturdy ladder and generally taking your time.

Simple Steps

Begin cleaning by a corner or the closest downspout, this way it’ll be easy to remember where you began.

Use your trowel or scoop to shovel out the leaves, twigs, and other debris from the gutters.

You’ll periodically have to empty out your bucket, which is tedious, but will save you from cleaning up your yard later.

After all of the larger debris has been cleared, it’s time to rid the gutters of the smaller pieces cluttering up the passageway. Starting at the opposite end of a downspout, use maximum water pressure to clear away any remaining debris with your garden hose.

If your gutters still aren’t draining properly, equip your garden hose with a smaller nozzle if necessary and feed the hose into the downspout.  Utilize the pressure of the hose to clear the downspout.  A snake tool, a tool that is commonly used by plumbers, can also help clear the blockage.

Common Gutter Problems

clean your gutters

As you clean your gutters, inspect the system to ensure there are no damages to any of the sections.  For a gutter system to work properly, it should slope ¼ of an inch every 10 feet as it declines towards the downspout.

If your system is collecting standing water, this could be because the gutter needs to be readjusted to help move the water along towards the downspout.  This is an easy fix that simply requires the sections of gutters to be rehung and reattached to meet the requirements of the decline.

After a particularly nasty winter, you might see a few missing pieces in the gutter system or places where the water is leaking.  Any hardware store can provide you with the right material to fix holes in aluminum or fiberglass material, and sealant can be applied on the gutter seams to prevent leaking.

Another common problem homeowners face with their gutters is missing support hangers.  The solution is to remove the old hangers and replace them with the new hangers in the same area using a drill.

Important Tips to Remember

The best way to maintain your gutter system is just like anything else, by taking care of it.  Remember to clean your gutters at least twice a year, and while you do so, check the anchors, seams, and downspouts for damages.

By inspecting your gutter system thoroughly, you’ll prevent costly foundation damages to your home and increase the life expectancy of your gutter system.  And if you can’t get around to cleaning your gutters twice a year, you can always hire someone for the job.

Check to see how many trees are above your home.  It’s also beneficial to note when your trees shed their leaves so you’ll know when to plan to clean your gutters.  Some trees drop more debris than others, and may fill up your gutters fast with their acorns.  By knowing what time of the seasons your trees are prone to loosing their foliage, you can get ahead of dealing with major build up in your gutters.

Preventative steps can be taken to help with the inevitable cleaning process.  Gutter guards are a great way to keep out debris from trees and protect your gutters from the harsh elements. However, it’s still recommended that you examine twice per year.

If gutter cleaning is one of your more dreaded house-related tasks—don’t fret, because sooner or later robots may be doing the job for you.  Already available on the market, gutter-cleaning robots aren’t as expensive as you may think. However, most aren’t completely autonomous, you do have to place them in the gutter yourself.  Perhaps one-day future technology will progress and these robots will even fix our gutters for us.  In the meantime, it looks like we will have to meet this robot-tech halfway.

There’s Still Only One Right Way—And It’s the Simplest One

Still, the easiest, safest, and most efficient way to clean your gutters is the simplest way: a bucket and a scoop.  It is important to take your time, practice ladder safety, and wear protection like gloves and shoes with traction to help prevent slipping.

Gutter cleaning, though tedious, is a crucial task in the maintenance of your home.  You don’t want to walk down into your basement at the start of a wet spring and find out you have severe water problems, or notice that because of clogged or damaged gutters, the roof of your home now leaks.

Avoid paying thousands of dollars fixing foundation issues that could be easily prevented by spending one or two nice Saturdays a year outside by cleaning your gutters.

Sometimes, your gutters have seen too much abuse and are too worn out to do the job right. Don’t fret, Feldco is here for all your gutter replacement needs. Our seamless aluminum gutters are custom made to match the perimeter of your roof and allow for no gaps between sections. Plus, it makes for cleaning them easier since there’s no sections for junk to build up in. Get a free quote now for your new gutters from Feldco.

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