We all know how important gutters are. The gutter system on the exterior of your home is what protects your home and foundation from the damaging effects of rain. If gutters are clogged, they allow rainwater to overflow onto the ground beneath the gutters.
Due to the location of the gutters, the overflowing rainwater will travel down through the ground and over time, can cause serious damage to a home’s foundation, resulting in thousands of dollars in repairs.
Downspouts and gutters must be clean to do their job. Over time, leaves and debris accumulate inside the gutter system. While you always have the option of hiring professionals, you can save at least $100 when you do it yourself.
When thinking about cleaning the gutters, most people think about dangerous ladders and worst case scenarios. The good news is that it’s not nearly as scary as you might imagine it to be.
A typical gutter system should be cleaned at least two times per year. Keep in mind that if your home is more than one story, you’re probably better off and safer hiring the professionals to do the cleaning for you.
How to Clean Gutters
If you’re planning to do it yourself, let’s jump right into it! First, you’ll need to find a strong, sturdy ladder. Make sure you place the ladder on a level, supportive base. If you have a tall stepladder, then you might want to consider using that instead of an extension ladder.
If you find that you must lay an extension ladder against a portion of the gutter while cleaning it, then you should place a small 2×4 of wood inside of the gutter to prevent the ladder from damaging it.
When you’re standing on a ladder, you should never lean over the sides and don’t use the very top two steps. If your roof has a low pitch, and you’re comfortable, you can always work from the roof instead of a ladder.
However, you should never attempt this during windy, icy or wet conditions. Also make sure to wear nonslip shoes and don’t work near power lines.
You should wear heavy work gloves to protect your hands. The first step is scooping the loose debris from the gutters. You should always start at the drain outlet, which should be at the lower end of the gutter.
A narrow garden trowel can work well for the job. It’s easiest to remove debris when they’re slightly damp. Some people like to scoop the debris into a plastic bucket, but it’s usually easier to just scoop them onto the ground and clean them up afterwards.
Once you’ve scooped out all of the loose debris, you’ll want to blast out the remaining debris using a hose. The hose will need to have a high-pressure nozzle attached to it. Move through and wash out each length of the gutter as you get to it.
Keep in mind that this can be quite a messy task, so you should do your best to avoid spraying muddy water onto your home, or you’ll have even more to clean up.
You might have to use a stuff brush to remove stuck-on dirt. The next step involves clearing all drainpipe obstructions. If the water isn’t draining freely through the drainpipes, you can try to use the hose to flush the debris down the pipe.
If you find that the hose doesn’t work to cleat the pipe, you can try a plumber’s snake.
Important Gutter Maintenance
Autumn and spring are great times to inspect and clear gutters. If possible, occasionally flush your gutters with a hose and high-pressure, on-off spray nozzle. It will help to remove debris before they have a chance to buildup and clog the system.
Also keep in mind that the slope of your gutter system might require occasional adjustments to ensure the water is actually flowing towards the downspouts. It’s also very important to make sure your gutters are always expelling water away from your home.
You might need to have downspout extenders installed if you find that the water is draining too close to your home. Ideally, the gutters will drain the water into a drainage system that runs far away from your home.
Another aspect of maintenance is checking for leaks. When it rains, you can go outside and inspect to make sure there are no large leaks. You can use a china marker to mark any leaks that you find. There is a debate about the effectiveness of gutter caps.
Even if you have these installed, you’ll still have to perform thorough cleaning at least once every 2 years or so. The question of how to keep your gutters clean is an easy one.
You can use this procedure to clean both house and building gutters. It works for your typical roof and rain systems, and you should have no trouble using it for aluminum gutters.