Gutters that are well-functioning and clean can protect your home from water damage by catching rainwater and diverting it away from your roof, siding and foundation. When debris accumulates and clogs a gutter, however, water can spill over and collect in undesirable places in and around your home. To prevent the unnecessary and costly damage that can originate with a dirty gutter, we’ve put together a short guide detailing the best way to clean gutters.
Importance of Cleaning Your Gutters
While it can be easy to forget about gutters when they’re functioning smoothly, if they become dirty and clogged for too long, you may receive a powerful reminder of the purpose they serve. Debris from leaves, twigs and general gunk can build up and cause water to overflow from a gutter well before it reaches the all-important downspout.
Accumulated debris can lead to mold or mildew growth and cause water to accumulate behind your siding, seep into interior walls and collect around — and damage — your foundation. In fact, Liberty Mutual Insurance states that water is the number one cause of costly foundation issues. Additionally, birds, rodents and other critters can even use that debris to build a nest, making them more likely to find an entry point into your home.
According to an article on Design Business Engineering, clogged gutters can also result in damage to your landscaping, basement and roof.
Cleaning Out Your Gutters
If you decide to undertake the task on your own, it’s important that you understand what a thorough gutter-cleaning job entails. There are several tools and methods you can use to clear out debris.
Depending on your comfort level and the equipment at your disposal, the best way to clean out gutters will be to use a water hose, ladder and one or more of the following:
- Your hands and gloves, a plastic trowel and a bucket for collecting debris. This is going to be the most time-consuming option but doesn’t require any fancy equipment other than a ladder.
- A leaf blower. When using a leaf blower, make sure you blow leaves and debris away from the home and the gutter’s downspout. You may also need to pull out wet or sticky debris the blower misses.
- A power washer. This is the most effective option for clearing out debris from both the gutters and downspouts, but it may be more expensive if you don’t already own a power washer. If you don’t want to climb a ladder to clean, you can purchase telescoping and gutter-cleaning wands to extend the reach of your washer.
Cleaning Your Gutters in Seven Steps
Once you’ve decided on your plan of attack and gathered your materials, complete the following steps:
- Set up a stable, tall ladder.
- Wear safety gear, such as long sleeves, gloves, goggles and a dust mask.
- If possible, clear the roof of debris to prevent your handiwork from quickly being negated.
- Begin removing debris from the gutters and downspouts, starting with the areas farthest from the downspouts and working your way down.
- If still dirty, wash the gutters and downspouts with a sponge or cloth and a gentle solution of white vinegar and water.
- Inspect the gutters for damage.
- Test your newly cleaned gutters using a water hose: spray water into the parts of the gutter farthest away from the downspout, and make sure it effortlessly flows through the downspout without any leaks along the way.
When Should You Clean Your Gutters?
Many professionals recommend cleaning gutters in the spring and fall, or at least twice annually. However, we also advise checking them for debris and clogs after any large storm and more often if your home is surrounded by trees. Because the best way to clean gutters can be an involved, time-consuming and sometimes risky process for an inexperienced homeowner, it’s often best to hire a professional for the task.
Alternatively, you can prevent needing to ever clean out your gutters by installing our high quality, attractive Thompson Creek replacement gutters. These low-maintenance, seamless gutters have hoods that filter debris to keep your gutters clear, saving you the time and money you would otherwise have spent on cleaning. To learn more about the easy installation process and get a free estimate, complete our online form.