To perform at their best, you need to clean the gutters on your home least once a year. Autumn leaves can easily clog your gutters, which can cause water to overflow and damage the edge of your roof, the fascia board, and the siding. The water can also pool against your foundation. Read on to learn how to clean gutters.
How to Clean Gutters: Safety First
Do not try to climb on the roof and clean the gutters from above. Bending forward on a downward slope is never safe. Using a strong sturdy ladder is the best way to manually clean your gutters. Ideally, the ladder should have stabilizers attached to the top. The stabilizers keep the ladder firmly planted against the building, helping to prevent it from tipping to the side.
Even with stabilizers, it’s a good idea to have someone hold the ladder at the bottom and make sure it is on solid, even ground. Wear slip-proof boots and keep your feet planted firmly on the ladder. Do not shift your weight to the side to reach farther. Your waist should never move past the side of the ladder.
There are a couple of ways to collect the debris out of the gutters. First, you can lay a tarp on the ground below to catch everything you clear out of them and just reposition the tarp as needed. The second option is to use a bucket to collect the debris. You can secure the bucket to the ladder with a metal hook.
Some prefer to use a trowel to remove the debris from the gutter, while others recommend using your hand. In either case, you will want to wear sturdy gloves that are water resistant.
To begin, start on the end where the downspout is and then work towards the opposite end.
How to Clean Gutters on Your Home
- Position the ladder on the downspout end.
- Climb up the ladder.
- Use the trowel or your hands to remove the debris.
- Place debris in a bucket or drop to a tarp below.
- Clean as far as you can safely reach.
- Move ladder and repeat until entire gutter length is clear.
- Once gutter is clear, use a hose to run water from the far end to clear any remaining debris down the downspout.
- Make sure the water is going down the downspout easily. If there is water backup, you may have a clog. Run the water at highest pressure to remove the clog.
Repeat this entire process for each length of gutter that you have around your home. For the typical homeowner, cleaning the gutters can take a few hours, depending on the size of your house.
Alternatives to Going Up the Ladder
If the idea of dragging a ladder around the house doesn’t sound appealing, there are a couple of alternatives to consider.
Hiring a professional: There are companies that will come out to clean your gutters for you. It can cost a few hundred dollars, depending on the size of the house and its layout.
Installing guards or screens on the gutters: To prevent debris build-up, you can have guards or screens installed on the gutters themselves. While they don’t keep all debris out, these gutter accessories can keep most of the large stuff out and reduce how often you need to clean the gutters.
The one thing you can’t do is ignore clogged gutters. It is best to clean them during fall to clear out fallen leaves and prevent ice dams from forming in them during the winter. Now that you know how to clean gutters, make it a priority next weekend.