Spring is right around the corner, which means rain showers and new plant growth. Which, unfortunately, also leads to clogged gutters. Remedy that problem with these gutter cleaning tips from Improvements.
Gutter Cleaning Tips
To do the job they are there to do, gutters and downspouts must be free of debris. Properly functioning gutters are critical to a home’s well-being. They direct rainwater away from the foundation, siding, and trim, helping preserve them for many, many years. If gutters become clogged, water will overflow and get into places you don’t want it. It can also cause leaks, flooding or cracking. These often lead to mold and pest infestation. All of which can be very expensive to fix or eradicate. Prevention works but unclogged gutters are also key. Use these gutter cleaning tips to protect your home from unwanted moisture and damage.
Be Safe and Prepared
Dress properly for cleaning gutters as it can be a messy job. Always wear eye protection, face mask (especially if you’re sensitive to allergens), long sleeves and gloves if you’ll reach in by hand. Ensure your ladder is sturdy and secure before climbing up. Use a ladder stabilizer for safety. It is also best to never use a ladder if you are home alone or without notifying a neighbor.
Now that you and your ladder are ready, get up there and start cleaning off your roof. Do this by spraying leaves debris away with a garden hose or use a rake or broom if your roof is safe to walk on. You don’t want this debris to go right into the gutter after you’ve finished cleaning. Once the roof is clear, scoop out all of the muck from the gutter. A garden trowel or children’s sand shovel makes a great gutter cleaning tool, or you can purchase a plastic, gutter scoop at the local hardware store. Dispose of the gunk in a garbage bag hooked to your ladder or drop onto a tarp in the yard. Do not just toss to the ground or you’ll have to clean the same mess twice!
Once you remove the large debris, spray the dirt and grime away with the highest pressure setting on your hose. Wear eye protection to prevent injuries. Rinse the water toward the downspout and ensure everything is in working order. Your gutters should be good to go for another 6 to 12 months.
Use a Leaf Blower to Clean Your Gutters
You use a leaf blower to clear leaves from your yard so why not your gutters? The good news is you can! But please follow these basic gutter cleaning tips.
Don’t haul your leaf blower up a ladder to clean gutters because it’s dangerous. Instead, attach a lengthening kit to the leaf blower, which you can purchase from your local hardware store. This will allow you to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground while using the leaf blower. It also has an angled neck so that you can point the air blower into the gutter at a correct angle. Debris will fly out so wear eye protection. Put down a drop cloth to collect as much debris as possible. Blow the rest of it away once it reached the ground.
If you don’t have a leaf blower, use a shop vacuum in the same way. Just flip the switch so it is blowing instead of sucking. It makes a great gutter cleaning tool!
While this method works great for clearing away the leaves, branches, bird nests, etc., it will not remove the hardened on dirt and other leftover muck so you will still need to get up there and wash out the remaining mess.
Cleaning a Gutter with a Pressure Washer
Pressure washers are powerful and can kick back like a gun so never use them from a ladder or your roof. Stand safely on the ground before turning on your pressure washer. To use one for gutter cleaning, you must attach a gutter cleaning kit or extended telescoping wand attachment for the hose. Use an angled nozzle so the stream points downward into the gutter. The water is highly pressurized and will splash quite a bit of debris and water down on you. Wear rain gear and safety goggles. Don’t spray the nozzle anywhere near you. The powerful stream can break the skin and it will hurt badly.
Once you get all of the gunk and clogs out of the gutter, take a look at your house and the ground. You’ll likely need to pressure wash your house as this is a messy, albeit successful, technique. Double-check the gutters visually using a ladder after you’re done to ensure they’re fully clean. Scrub any leftover mess by hand.
Prevent Gutter Clogs and Damage
The best method to clean clogs is to prevent them in the first place. For instance, downspout pumps or covers work to keep the larger debris from entering the downspout. They’re placed right over the top of the downspout opening and often have a mesh cover to help catch leaves and twigs.
One of the most popular clog-prevention methods is gutter guards. Most slide under shingles and hook onto the front of the gutter. They have holes so only water can pass through while catching leaves, twigs, seed pods, pine needles and more. Gutter guards can become blocked and may need to be cleaned off though. Be mindful of any gutter guard clogs.
Use downspout diverters to keep rainwater from pooling near the foundation of your home. They’ll direct water where you want it to go and are very useful especially if you live in a very rainy area. Another great idea is a rain barrel. Catch the excess rainwater in the barrel that’s placed under the downspout and reuse it to water plants or gardens in the coming weeks. It’s a great money-saver as well and good for the environment. And it helps protect the foundation of the home by not flooding the ground with excess water.
Are You Ready to Put These Gutter Cleaning Tips to Use?
Clean your gutters at least once a year, but twice a year is even better, especially if you have trees in the yard. Use our gutter cleaning tips to remove and prevent clogs, but only if you’re comfortable using a ladder or power equipment. If you aren’t, hire a professional to do the job for you.