Gutters protect your home and landscaping from damage caused by excess undirected water flow. If your gutters become clogged, they can overflow with water which can cause damage to your home’s foundation, and your roof, and even cause leaks in your windows and basement. To protect the structural integrity of your home and keep your home dry, it’s important to keep your gutters clean and unobstructed. How often should you clean your gutters? Keep reading to find out how often, and what you will need to get the job done.
Why do you need to clean your gutters?
Without gutters, rainwater would simply pour over the edge of your roof and onto the ground closest to the foundation. If too much water collects on the side of the home close to the foundation it can cause structural issues. Excess water can cause damage to the siding of your home, and water damage can be done to your roof, inviting all that water to come inside and throughout the foundation. Additionally, if water gets into your home through the siding or roof it can cause dangerous mold to grow which can pose a serious threat to your health. Repairing water damage in the home can be extremely costly, so it’s best to keep up with gutter maintenance to avoid this.
How often you should clean your gutters
The general rule of thumb is to clean your gutters once a year. If you live in a heavily wooded area with a lot of falling leaves or pines, you may need to clean your gutters more often. You should also clean your gutters after a big storm, as a large amount of debris can be blown into your gutter system, blocking them.
There is also an ideal time of year that you should clean your gutters. To prepare for the winter, you should clear your gutters in the fall. The big dump of falling leaves that comes with fall can wreak havoc on your gutters if not cleaned. To save your gutters from the buildup of debris clean them in the late fall, before where you live hits freezing temperatures. If you leave your gutters clogged through the freezing temperatures of winter, the water trapped will freeze, which can cause damage to your gutters, and even tear your gutters away from the roof. To protect your home and keep your gutters working their best, clean them every fall or more.
What you may need to clean your gutters
1. Sturdy and secure ladder
In order to access your gutters, you will need a ladder to get to those hard-to-reach places. You will need a steady and secure ladder placed on a sturdy and flat surface. Have a spotter nearby to keep an eye on you and help you out if you accidentally drop something, or feel unsafe.
There are nowadays methods for cleaning gutters that do not involve a ladder, and if you’re uneasy about heights, you should try a grounded cleaning routine instead. You will need a gutter cleaning attachment for your garden hose, a dry/wet vacuum, or a power washer with an attachment.
2. Work clothes
Cleaning your gutters can be a dirty job, so definitely don’t wear your favorite top. Wear a long sleeve shirt that you don’t mind getting dirty, work pants, rubber gloves or gardening gloves, and comfortable shoes or work boots.
3. Gutter scoop or plastic shovel
To clear the gunk from your gutters you will need some kind of scoop. You can purchase a store-bought gutter scoop, or even use a plastic sand shovel. If you don’t have one on hand, you can also use an old large plastic kitchen spoon or spatula. Place a tarp on the ground to drop the gunk and debris onto to protect your landscaping. After the job is done you can clear the debris from the tarp instead of the entire perimeter of the home.
4. Garden hose
To clear any leftover grime from your gutters, use a garden hose to flush it out. Use your garden hose to run along the gutters and down the downspouts to clear any buildup. Keep your eyes peeled for any leaks and repair them.
How to clean your gutters
Step 1: Prepare the area
If you will be using a ladder to access your gutters, you will need to prep the area first. Lay a tarp on the ground so you can easily throw debris onto it from the top of your ladder without worrying about collecting it from the ground later. Just drag your tarp to the next area and keep dumping. After you’ve cleared the perimeter of the home you can dispose of the debris collected on the tarp rather than having to work your way back around the entire house.
Step 2: Set up your ladder
If you are using a ladder, you will need a flat and secure spot to set it up. Clear any debris that might get in the way like rocks or large sticks. Place your ladder next to the tarp and not on top of it. Make sure your ladder is secure before climbing it. Even better, have someone spot you and assist you from the ground.
Step 3: Shovel the gutters
Now that you’ve got your area all set up you can get to clearing some grime. If there is a large number of leaves or other debris you can clear this will your hands. For any remaining muck, dirt, and smaller debris you can use a gutter scoop, a plastic sand shovel, or an old large plastic spoon. Drop the debris to the tarp below you and clean it up when you are done.
Step 4: Hose down the gutters
After you’ve removed the bulk, it’s time to flush it clear. Using a garden hose, run water down the length of your gutters and out the downspout. Check for water leaking through any holes and patch them using plastic cement for roofing, or hire a professional. For any areas of the gutter that are sagging, you can secure them with gutter hangers.
How to clean your gutters from the ground
If you prefer to get the job done without the use of a ladder, no problem! Luckily you can clean your gutters from the ground. However, it can require a bit more time as you won’t be able to see exactly what you’re doing, and you’ll need some special ingredients to get it done.
To clean your gutters from the ground you can use a garden hose with a hooked attachment, a power washer with a gutter attachment, or a dry/wet vacuum to suck up any gunk. Since you won’t be able to see exactly what you’re doing, this may take more time. You also won’t be able to remove the large debris by hand before spraying, so this might mean some debris spraying onto your roof or the ground. Therefore, the cleanup after the gutters are done might be a bit more strenuous.
- Bob Vila. “How to Clean Gutters: 5 Effective Ways to Get the Job Done“
- Family Handyman. “The Best Way to Clean Gutters“