You probably already have gutters installed on your home, but do you know why they are valuable? They are used to help funnel water away from your home and prevent water erosion caused by heavy storms and rains.
However, they are not completely maintenance free. Regular maintenance and inspections, including cleaning, can help keep the system in great working condition and reduce the chance of requiring a full gutter replacement down the road.
Continue reading this guide and learn how to clean your gutter system with best results.
How Often and Why Should You Clean the Gutters?
Your gutters should be inspected and cleaned twice a year, ideally every spring and fall, which will help ensure they continue to work as they are supposed to. Some homeowners choose to hire a gutter repair company for the inspection. However, it’s simple enough to do yourself.
Without an inspection, you’d never know if there was a clog that was keeping water from running freely through the system. A clog can be caused by bird feathers, leaves, and even pine needles.
The extra weight from stagnant water can cause damage that requires gutter repair or replacement, while the water itself can become a breeding ground for mosquitos. Additionally, it will flow over the side rather than through the system which could cause pooling and erosion problems. If rain has pooled into your home’s foundation, it can cause some foundation problems or allow water to seep into your basement.
When to Clean the Gutters?
Before you tackle the cleaning, it is best to check the weather forecast. If you clean your gutters after a few dry days, the debris isn’t quite as soaked or heavy, and that makes cleaning a lot easier.
What Tools Will You Need?
For this simple job, you will need a trowel, sturdy ladder, wire hooks and buckets, a garden hose with a nozzle or a gutter cleaning attachment, and some protective wear such as work gloves, safety glasses, and a good pair of shoes. Shoes like sandals, flip-flops or even bare feet can make it easier to slip off the ladder.
Cleaning your gutters means working on a ladder, so if you are not comfortable doing this, or you have problems with heights, it is best to call a professional, or even a friend or a family member willing to help. Also, be careful when working near power lines and try to avoid them. If you cannot avoid them completely, then it is also the best option to call a professional.
- Safety tip: Use a step ladder whenever possible on solid level ground and don’t climb above the second to last step. For two-story homes, you may have to use an extension ladder, so take extra precautions. Make sure the ladder is stable or have someone on the ground holding and securing it.
Six Simple Cleaning Steps to Follow
To make your job a little easier, use two buckets: one for gathering debris and the other for carrying your tools. Carry them up one at a time and hook them to the ladder.
Begin the process with the cleaning. Start near the downspout and, wearing a pair of gloves, pull out any clumps and clean up any large debris such as twigs and leaves. You can use a trowel to clean out smaller or packed-in material.
Remove and clean any downspout strainers if you have them. Strainers are simple add-ons to your gutter and downspout systems that eliminate or reduce clogging in your pipes. They are simple to install and prevent large debris from clogging the downspout, so if you don’t have them, we highly recommend them, as they can really come in handy.
Once you’ve removed the large debris, wash out whatever remains with a hose, starting at the end opposite the downspout. If you prefer, you can also use a gutter cleaning attachment.
If the water doesn’t drain, there is probably a clog in the downspout that you need to remove. For gutters that run into an underground tiling system, you will have to remove the bottom end of the downspout. You might have to temporarily remove some of the bands, which is done with a simple screwdriver. If your downspout is above ground, then you don’t have to remove any parts.
If the nozzle on your hose will fit into the downspout, set it at full pressure, then turn on the water and feed the hose up from the bottom of the spouting. If it still doesn’t clear the clog, or if the nozzle is too big, use an electrician or plumber’s snake.
Now that your downspout is unclogged and clean go back to your gutter and flush the entire gutter one more time, starting at the end opposite to downspout. This will clean out all the rest of the debris, and you will also make sure that your downspout is working properly.
If you notice that there is standing water in the bottom of your gutter, it is a sign that the gutter is not sloped correctly. The length of the system should decline ¼ inch every ten feet toward the downspout. If yours doesn’t, detach the hangers to adjust the gutter enough to drain properly, then reattach. Adjusting your gutters is a quick and simple task, and you will only need a screwdriver.
Furthermore, if you have any leaks, you can easily fix them, but wait until the gutter is dry. For leaks at the seams, make sure that gutter lengths are tight against each other. Then simply apply gutter sealant on all of the joints. For leaks at the end caps, seal inside and around the entire cap.
Let’s Sum It Up!
Follow this simple guide, and your gutters will be clean of debris in no time. It is a quick and easy process that doesn’t require a lot of time or skill. This can help to keep your home safe from water damage caused by heavy rains and storms. So, if you haven’t cleaned or inspected your gutters, make sure to set aside some time to do so.