How to Clean Gutters

By: Laurnie Wilson Fall, How to, Spring

Gutters should be cleaned twice a year—once in the fall and once in the spring. Depending on the size of your home, this process can be completed in under an hour. Here’s how to get started.

Safety precautions

1. Level ground

Ensure the area where you place your ladder provides a solid base. This will offer much-needed support and stability while you’re in the air.

2. Weather conditions

Plan to clean your gutters on a mild day without any disruptive weather patterns. If the forecast is calling for precipitation or high winds, reschedule your gutter cleaning for another day.

3. A spotter

Although this is optional, it’s helpful to have a friend or family member act as a spotter while you’re on the ladder. A spotter can keep an extra eye on your safety so that your ladder remains steady and your gutter cleaning is problem-free.

Materials

  • Rubber gloves
  • Extendable ladder
  • Trowel or scoop
  • Trash bags
  • Garden hose
  • Gutter caulk (optional)
  • Gutter covers (optional)

How to clean your gutters in 5 steps

  1. Place your ladder on level ground. Make sure the ladder will be steady beneath you as you climb.
  2. Wear your rubber gloves and, with trash bag in hand, climb to the height of the gutter. If you have a spotter, they should begin reinforcing the ladder as you climb.
  3. Reach into the gutter and remove any large debris, such as leaves and twigs, and place debris in the trash bag.
  4. Use your trowel or scoop to break up and remove any compacted debris or sludge. Place this in the trash bag as well.
  5. Once the gutters are clear of visible clogs, use a garden hose to rinse any remaining debris toward the downspout. If there are any other obstructions in the downspout, you may need to thread the hose up the downspout from the ground. This will loosen up any problem areas so that the water can drain freely.

Preventing future trouble with your gutters

Now that your gutters are clean, there are a few more steps to take to ensure the effectiveness of your gutters and downspouts in the long run.

  1. If you noticed any leaks in the gutters while using the hose, now is the time to use the gutter caulk to seal up everything. Do this before temperatures drop too low—frozen water and debris will only cause the cracks to expand and worsen.
  2. If you’ve decided to install gutter covers to prevent future clogs, early fall is the time to do so. This is one of the best ways to keep large debris out of the gutters, which means you’ll spend less time on the gutter cleaning process in the future.

When to call a professional for gutter cleaning

Although gutter cleaning is a simple task that most homeowners complete without hassle, there are some cases when it’s far better to call in an expert. There’s no reason to risk your own safety during this process, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help when the situation could place you in harm’s way.

Consider calling a professional when:

  • Your home is two stories or greater
  • You don’t own a ladder that reaches your gutters
  • You feel that your ladder is unstable when placed on the ground
  • Your gutter clog is more challenging to unpack than you anticipated
  • You discover extensive damage to your gutters

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