How to Clean Your Gutters

close up of a roof line and gutter with a gutter guard
For many homeowners, DIY home maintenance is the perfect way to save money while investing in their home’s future. That’s why today, we’re diving into a task that’s often overlooked but incredibly important for maintaining your home’s health: gutter cleaning. While it’s not the flashiest subject, hear us out – keeping your gutters clean is like giving your house a superhero cape against rain. It’s all about protecting your property from unwanted critters and water damage, ensuring that rainwater flows away like it’s supposed to while preventing vermin like wasp, opossums, and mosquitoes from setting up shop. So, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s get into the nitty-gritty of gutter cleaning.

Why Gutter Cleaning Is a Big Deal

First off, why even bother? Well, unless you’re a fan of water damage and sagging roofs, cleaning those gutters is pretty essential. Since the buildup of debris like leaves and sticks can clog your gutters, the resulting small pond that forms on top of your house can put major pressure on your roof, weakening its structural integrity and paving the way for leaks down the road.

Plus, critters like mosquitoes, bees, and wasps love to call a damp gutter home, and they’ll be sure to divebomb you as soon as you step out your front door. So, if you want to keep up a usable outdoor living space and a structurally sound home, gutter cleaning is a must.

Gear Up: Tools of the Trade

Alright, let’s talk gutter cleaning tools. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:
  • A sturdy ladder to help you reach your gutters
  • Gloves (because who knows what’s in those gutters)
  • A garden trowel or gutter scoop to clear out debris
  • A bucket or trash bag for all that debris
  • A garden hose (with a sprayer attachment if possible) to help you wash your gutter after you’ve cleaned out all the gunk
  • Safety goggles and a hat (these are optional but definitely recommended)

Safety First: The Ground Rules

Before you start your ascent to the gutter, let’s lay down some safety rules. Make sure your ladder is stable and on solid ground. If you’re working on uneven terrain, ladder levelers can give you some additional stability. It’s also a good idea to have someone spot you by holding the ladder at its base, keeping it from shifting while you work. If you’re not comfortable with heights, or if your house is particularly tall, consider hiring a pro for your own safety.

But, if you decide to do the job yourself, wear durable gloves to protect your hands from sharp debris, and consider safety goggles to block falling dirt and leaves – trust us, there’s nothing less fun than an eye full of gunk. Good footwear is crucial too; opt for non-slip shoes to prevent any missteps. Finally, be mindful of your surroundings, especially power lines, and avoid cleaning your gutter when the weather’s acting up (rain, heavy wind, etc.). If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be totally safe while cleaning your gutters (except from squirrel attacks – the chances are low, but never zero).

How to Clean Gutters

Now for the fun part (yes, we roofers think gutter cleaning is fun). Here’s a step-by-step guide:
  • Scoop It Out: Start near a downspout and remove larger debris like twigs by hand. For the smaller stuff, such as dirt and rotting leaves, be sure to use your trowel or scoop. Toss all the debris into your bucket – it sounds gross, but we promise it’s oddly satisfying.
  • Flush It Out: Once the debris is out, use your garden hose to flush the gutters. In addition to helping you clean out the remaining gunk, this will help you spot any leaks. If possible, attach a spray nozzle to your hose to increase its pressure, allowing it to clean more effectively.
  • Check the Downspouts: Make sure water is flowing freely. If it’s blocked, you might have to use a plumber’s snake to unclog it.
  • Inspect and Repair: Look for any signs of wear and tear. Tighten any loose screws and make sure the gutters are firmly attached. Also check that they are sloped properly – a quality gutter slopes ¼ in. for every 10 ft. toward the downspout, allowing water to flow freely. If your gutter isn’t sloped steeply enough, adjust it by detaching the hangers until water flows through it without trouble.

Pro Tips

If you’re feeling extra, here are some pro tips:
  • Consider installing gutter guards to reduce the amount of debris (check out our article about the importance of gutter guards here).
  • Inspect your gutters after major storms.
  • If you have trees near your house, trim back their branches to reduce the amount of leaves falling into the gutters.

Wrapping Up

Congrats! You’re now an expert on clean gutters. Not only have you done something great for your home, but you’ve also saved yourself some major headaches and costly repairs down the road. Remember, gutter cleaning is not just about keeping things tidy – it’s a crucial investment in your home’s future.