Gutters play a vital role in protecting your house from rainwater and snowfall. Not only do they help keep rain, snow, and other debris away from your roof, but they also help protect your foundation and landscaping from water falling off your roof. Unfortunately, gutters can also become clogged with leaves and other debris, resulting in water backing up and damaging your home. To avoid this, it is important to clean gutters regularly and keep them properly maintained. The following steps explain how to clean gutters safely. Plus, we cover the other gutter maintenance to keep them flowing smoothly.
How To Clean Gutters
Cleaning gutters can be a straightforward task, but it’s essential to do it safely and correctly to avoid injury or damage to your home. Here are the steps to clean gutters:
- Safety First: Before you begin cleaning your gutters, make sure you take the proper safety precautions.
- Gather gutter cleaning tools: You’ll need a sturdy ladder, a bucket, a gutter trowel or garden trowel, and a garden hose with a spray nozzle. For your safety, you should wear eye protection and work gloves. Although not necessary, consider using a ladder stabilizer as well.
- Set up your ladder: Place the ladder on even, level ground and make sure it does not twist or wobble. Ideally, have someone hold the base of the ladder while you work. Do not lean your ladder against the gutters because this can bend or break them. Instead, place it against the size of your house.
- Scoop out debris: When you are ready to start cleaning your gutters, carefully climb up the ladder. Place the bucket on the roof. Then use a gutter trowel or a small garden shovel to scoop out leaves, twigs, or debris that have accumulated in your gutters. Dump the dirt and debris in the bucket. Work carefully not to damage the gutter as you scrape away the debris.
- Rinse Gutters: Use your garden hose to rinse away any remaining dirt and debris from the gutters. Start at the far end of your gutters and work your way toward the downspout. You usually do not need to use a high-pressure spray setting, but it is helpful for removing stuck-on grime.
- Check for Clogs: After rinsing the gutters, inspect them to ensure there are no clogs. If you find a clog, use a plumber’s snake or a similar tool to remove it. After cleaning your gutters, also check the downspouts. Ensure that your downspouts are clear of any debris and water can flow freely through them.
- Rinse the Exterior: While standing on the ground, use your garden hose to rinse off the exterior of your gutters and downspouts. Use a low-pressure setting to loosen any dirt, then switch to the high-pressure setting to rinse it away.
- Inspect: Now that your gutters are clean, take the time to inspect them for leaks, damage, or areas of rust or corrosion. Run your garden hose up to the roof and leave it on for several minutes. Check your gutters for leaks. Then go back up on the ladder and check for rust and damage. Make repairs before they cause more serious damage.
Following these steps will help you keep your gutters clean and functioning properly. Cleaning your gutters once or twice a year can save you from costly repairs down the road.
Other Gutter Maintenance
While gutter cleaning is important, there are a number of other preventative maintenance tasks you should do to keep your gutters working properly.
- Adjust the Splashblock – The splashblock is where the downspouts discharge on the ground. Most a made of concrete, but other materials are common. The force of the rainwater can cause the block to shift or move, so reposition it after every downpour or anytime you have significant rainfall.
- Tighten Gutter Nails – Check the gutter nails that hold the gutters into the hanger brackets. If they are loose or coming out of the gutter, gently tap them into place. If the nail hole is too loose, you can apply a small dab of construction adhesive or caulk to keep the nail in place longer. Check gutter nails once a year or more if you live in a windy area.
- Tighten Downspout Straps – Downspouts also have straps that are nailed or screwed into your house to hold them in place. Tighten up the fasteners to keep the downspouts in place and prevent leaks. Check the straps once a year.
- Check End Caps & Corners – The end caps cover the end of each gutter run while the corners connect individual runs. While some caps and corners are screwed, nailed, or caulked in place, most are only crimped in place. Over time, they can loosen up and lead to leaks that can damage your roof or foundation. Tighten caps and corners once a year or more as needed.
- Check Downspout Connections – Downspouts can loosen over time, leading to leaks and flooding around your foundation. Check that all of the downspout connections and elbows are tight. Most are only compression connections and will tighten up with a little pressure. However, some are screwed in place. Tighten the screws or seal stripped screws with caulk. Check your downspouts every year unless you live in a windy area, then check them more often.
- Check For Level & Slope – To keep gutters flowing smoothly, you should check for level and slope every other year. Check the gutters are level every 4 to 6 feet. Hold a small level perpendicular to the roof and across the gutters, making sure the bubble is level. Then place the level inside the gutters and parallel to the roof surface. The bubble should be just off-center. Slide it down the gutters to make sure the level stays consistently off-center. Check for level and slope every few years.
With proper maintenance and upkeep, you can extend the life of your gutters. While most of these are easy DIY maintenance steps, many gutter companies also provide maintenance services.