How to Clean Gutters
Knowing how to clean gutters is important. Your gutters are the saving grace of your roof and the integrity of your home. They are responsible for running the water away from your home. If they don’t, you could experience serious water damage and have expensive repairs.
Here’s everything you should know about cleaning gutters and why you may want to consider letting a professional do the job.g
5 Reasons you Must Clean your Gutters
It’s a dreaded chore, but cleaning your gutters is essential for many reasons. So if you’ve thought about skipping this important fall chore, here are five reasons not to.
1. Prevent Water Damage
Gutters are meant to drain water to keep it away from your house. However, if the gutters are clogged with leaves and other debris, the water can’t properly drain, causing the water to leak into your windows or the foundation. This puts your home at risk for water damage, which can eventually lead to mold growth.
2. Protect your Roof
Gutters also protect your roof by running the water away from it. When gutters are clogged, the water has nowhere to go but sit on your roof. This puts pressure on your roof and increases the chance of leaking. Not only will you have water damage in your home, but you’ll need a new roof prematurely.
3. Avoid Pest Infestation
When leaves and debris accumulate in the gutters, it makes them more desirable for rodents.
As a result, certain animals will create nests or burrow into the debris, taking up residence in your gutters. This can add unnecessary weight to your gutters and roof and put your home at risk of more severe damage caused by rodents.
4. Prevent a Cracked Foundation
If the water cannot properly run away from your home, it may pool at the bottom. This puts your foundation at risk of cracking, leading to many other major problems stemming from the cracks. Also, a cracked foundation makes it nearly impossible for a home to pass a home inspection when you try to sell it.
5. Reduce Unnecessary Expenses
When your gutters work properly, your home isn’t at risk of unnecessary damage. However, if the water cannot run away from your home properly, you’ll have more issues that take time and cost money.
Cleaning your gutters can protect many areas of your home, making it easier to maintain a proper home year-round.
What is the Best Way to Clean Gutters?
Before you start cleaning gutters, knowing the best approach for cleaning them is crucial.
It’s not a simple job, even though it may seem like it at high level.
Typically, there are two ways to clean gutters – from the ground or a ladder. Obviously, the safer option is to do it from the ground. If you choose this option, you can clean gutters with a garden hose or wet/dry vacuum.
1. Garden Hose Gutter Cleaning from the Ground
You’ll need a water-fed tube to clean your gutters with a garden hose. This tube should fit up the gutters and force the water through them. You’ll spray the house through the gutter, freeing the leaves and debris. Work your way from top to bottom, and be sure to protect yourself as the debris shoots out of the gutter.
2. Wet/Dry Vac Gutter Cleaning from the Ground
If you have a wet/dry vacuum, purchase a gutter cleaning attachment, and use it to clean your gutters from the ground. Similar to the hose method, you should protect yourself from debris flying out of the gutter. However, once finished with the vacuum, you may want to wash the gutter out with the hose to ensure you remove any remaining debris.
3. Leaf Blower Cleaning from a Ladder
If you are comfortable climbing a ladder and have someone who can brace the bottom of it, consider cleaning gutters from a ladder with a leaf blower.
Before using the leaf blower, block the end of the gutter with a rag. This prevents the leaves and debris from going down the gutter. Next, use the leaf blower on a high setting to blow the debris out of the gutter and onto the ground. Lastly, finish by washing the gutter out with water.
4. Power Washer Cleaning from a Ladder
If your gutters are excessively cluttered, consider using a power washer. Again, be sure someone is at the bottom of the ladder, holding it in place for you. Next, use the power washer on fine mist to clear out the leaves and debris. You don’t have to do anything except let the water run through the gutter, ensuring a steady stream, so you know the gutter is clear.
Can you Clean Gutters by Hand?
If you don’t have any fancy tools to clean the gutters, you can also do it by hand. You only need a ladder, bucket, gloves, and something to scoop the debris.
When you climb the ladder, start by securing the bucket. Then, using your gloves or a scooper, remove the debris by placing it in the bucket. Repeat this process until you think you’ve cleared the gutter. Next, take your garden hose and run water through it to ensure they are clear.
Is it Worth it to Clean Gutters Yourself?
While you can learn how to clean gutters yourself, and most of the supplies needed are things most homeowners have, it’s not wise.
Hiring a professional company to handle it is well worth the investment. Cleaning gutters is risky, especially if you use a ladder. You risk falling and hurting yourself or damaging your home. On the other hand, if you don’t clean them right, you could cause more damage, costing yourself more money.
Instead, it’s best to let the licensed and insured professionals handle your gutter cleaning, ensuring your home is safe and you remain uninjured. For guidance with the hiring process, check out 6 tips and tricks for finding the right contractor.
Safety Measures to Take When Cleaning Gutters
If you decide to learn how to clean gutters, take the following safety precautions.
- Wear thick gloves
- Wear safety goggles
- Don’t climb a ladder unless necessary and only if you have a second person to hold it
- Put a drop cloth at the bottom of the gutter to catch loose debris
- Stay on the ladder; don’t climb on the roof
- Don’t try to reach something that isn’t within arm’s length
- Never use a step ladder
How to Prevent Clogged Gutters
Learning how to clean gutters is important because every homeowner must do it, but there are ways to prevent clogged gutters and minimize the cleaning needed down the road..
Install Gutter Guards
Gutter guards let the water go through them while keeping the debris and leaves out of the gutter. They won’t prevent 100% of the dirt and debris from getting in the gutter, but most of it, so the water flows freely.
Trim Trees and Bushes
If you have landscaping near your gutters, it’s extremely important that they are trimmed routinely.. If you let them get out of control, they can break apart onto the roof and clog the gutters. It’s best to plant trees a few feet away from your home, but if they’ve grown and taken over, don’t let them get so big that they damage your home.
Insect your Roof Annually
Your roof can cause your gutters to clog easily if you aren’t careful. Inspecting your roof annually is important to look for loose shingles or other issues that could clog your gutters. The sooner you repair roof issues, the less likely your gutters will clog. Here are 6 signs of roof damage to look out for.
Avoid Airborne Debris
As much as you can, avoid airborne debris. For example, ensure your garbage is covered on garbage day so the debris cannot fly around on windy days. Also, think of any other debris or garbage that could potentially fly around your home and land in your gutters, clogging them from proper water flow.
How Often Should You Clean Your Gutters?
At a minimum, you should clean your gutters annually. Right before fall is the best time, but at least once a year is necessary. If you live in an area with excessive rainfall or your home is prone to a lot of debris, you may consider cleaning them twice a year.
How do you clean gutters when you can’t reach them?
If you can’t reach your gutters (most people can’t), then you have two options – clean them from the ground with a hose or wet/dry vac, or get a ladder and clean them by hand or with a pressure washer. If you can’t clean them from the ground, it’s best to consider hiring a professional company to do it for you.
Is it normal for water to stay in the gutter?
Water should not stay in the gutters. Instead, it should flow freely through the gutter and away from the home. If you notice water staying in the gutter, it is a sign that you have clogged gutters.
How do you tell if your gutters are clogged?
There are a few telltale signs if your gutters are clogged.
- You don’t see water coming out of the gutter
- You notice plants growing in the gutter
- Your gutters have water stains or seem saggy
- Water seeps out the side of your gutters
Even if you know how to clean gutters, it’s often a job best left to the professionals. If you have a small clog, you can take care of yourself, that’s great. Otherwise, consider hiring a professional company to clean your gutters once a year and ensure the water can flow freely from your home.