As the last autumn leaves fall, cleaning your gutters should climb to the top of your to-do list. Gutters and downspouts are designed to channel rainwater away from your home and the foundation. If your gutters are blocked with leaves and debris, it can lead to:
- Falling gutters. When gutters are overloaded with debris, water, or subsequent ice, they can pull away from your home and they will eventually fall altogether.
- Flooding. When water is prevented from flowing down the spout it may overflow and end up exactly where you don’t want it – in your basement or foundation.
- Cracked foundation. Cracks can form in your foundation if water spills over the sides of clogged gutters, seeps into the foundation, and freezes.
- Wood rot. If standing water freezes inside your clogged gutters, the ice can push against the roof and walls which increases the threat of mildew and rot.
- Staining. Frequent water spilling over the sides of clogged gutters can discolor your siding.
As you can see, skipping this chore isn’t recommended and is vital for your home’s health! Follow this guide to care for your gutters so they can continue to protect your home.
What You Need
- Sturdy ladder (extension ladder for second story)
- Safety goggles or glasses
- Waterproof gloves
- Trowel or scoop
- Garden hose with spray nozzle
- Screwdriver (to remove and reattach downspout if it runs underground)
- Plumber’s snake (for stubborn downspout clogs)
How to Clean Gutters
- Position your ladder near a downspout and spread a tarp under the section of gutter to be cleaned out.
- Hook your bucket of tools and empty bucket to the top of the ladder. Remove large debris (leaves, twigs, etc.) with your gloved hands and a trowel into your empty bucket. Work your way away from the downspout.
- To clear away the remaining dirt, use your hose and spray nozzle to flush small debris down the drain spout. Rinse any debris from the downspout strainer if needed.
- If you encounter a clogged downspout, work the clog out from the bottom up! If the downspout runs underground, you will need to remove the pipe to clear it. Spray your hose into the spout, this should dislodge the blockage. If it doesn’t, use a plumber’s snake from the bottom of the pipe to dislodge the blockage.
- Reattach or tighten any pieces that were removed or loosened while working on the downspout.
- Use your hose to flush out the gutters one final time.
- Go outside on the next rainy day to inspect your gutters and downspouts to ensure they are working properly.
A Note on Safety
Cleaning gutters is a relatively simple process, but it can be dangerous if you don’t take the necessary precautions. If you’re unsure you can safely complete the task, we recommend hiring a professional.
- When climbing the ladder, avoid carrying tools like trowels or anything sharp in your pockets. If you were to fall (Heaven forbid!) you wouldn’t want to land on the wrong end of a screwdriver or trowel! Instead, put the tools in a bucket or handled plastic bag to carry it up the ladder. You can hook them to the ladder once you reach the top.
- Wear sturdy shoes.
- Use safety goggles or glasses to protect your eyes from loose dirt and debris.
- Avoid working near power lines that may hang near your rooftop. if your roof is near power lines, please consider hiring a professional.
- Always ensure your ladder is planted firmly on level ground and don’t climb above the second-to-last step.
- Have another person present while you are cleaning gutters to assist, if needed.
We hope this guide helps you care for your gutters so they can continue to protect your home!