Over time, dirt and debris build up in a home’s gutters, especially when leaves are falling over the autumn months. Given enough debris, the gutters will become partially or fully blocked. It’s important to clean your gutters as part of your regular home maintenance. When tackled safely and routinely, it’s one of the easier chores that you’ll have to tend to as a homeowner.
Clean the Gutters Regularly
With all of the leaves dropping in autumn, gutters become clogged quickly. Plan to clean them in late fall, but be sure to also pay attention to them year-round. Especially if you live in a wooded area, you may find yourself cleaning the gutters multiple times a year.
Prevent Blocked Gutters
Gutters divert rainwater from the home’s roofing system, directing the water to downspouts that channel the water away from the building. If the gutters are blocked with leaf matter and other debris, the water flow is slowed, causing the water to rise until it spills over the sides.
If this occurs for prolonged periods, it can be disastrous for your home’s roofing and siding. Overflowing gutters can cause basement leaks, leading to mold growth. If you don’t clean the gutters, your siding may become damaged, water can pool around the foundation, and the overflow can affect your landscaping.
How to Clean Your Gutters
Even if you have never cleaned gutters before, these tips will help you get them clean so you can move on to the next item on your home maintenance checklist.
Assessing the Gutters
Take a look at the outside of your home and determine if you are able to clean the gutters. If the home is a single-story building, you can probably access the guttering with a ladder. If yours is a multiple-story structure, you may have a more difficult time. With a sturdy ladder of the proper length, you should be able to reach the gutters. But if you don’t have the right equipment and you don’t feel safe, hire a professional to handle the job.
Cleaning the Gutters
The standard way to clean the gutters requires a tarp, a ladder, a bucket, and sturdy work gloves. When tackling this project, practice ladder safety. Always place the ladder on stable ground and maintain three points of contact. If one hand is working to remove leaves from the gutter, make sure that both feet are planted and that you’re holding the ladder with your other hand. Better yet, have a friend or family member hold the ladder from below.
Lay the tarp out on the ground beneath you to catch the debris that you’re removing from the gutters. Alternatively, use a bucket that mounts to the ladder for collecting debris. Keep a trowel in the bucket if you’d prefer to use a tool instead of your hands. Take your time scooping out the gutters, repositioning the ladder often so that you don’t overreach.
Take a Different Approach
While using a ladder and your own hands is the traditional way to clean the gutters, it’s not the only way. There are attachments you can purchase for your shop vac, leaf blower, and pressure washer that make it possible to clean the gutters from the safety of the ground. These methods may not prove practical in all cases – for example, a multiple-level home – but it’s a relatively inexpensive way to make the job easier and safer for most homeowners.