Gutter Cleaning And Repair Is Simple When You Follow These Five Simple Steps
“People with dirty jobs are happier than you think. As a group, they’re the happiest people I know.” – Mike Rowe.
But, let’s face it; sometimes a little dirty work needs to get done! Cleaning gutters and downspouts c isn’t any business or homeowner’s favorite job, but it has to get done to keep your gutters and roof performing the job of keeping you dry!
Neglecting gutter cleaning will inevitably lead to clogs allowing water to seep into your business or home, causing problems for your roof, foundation, driveway, parking lot, and landscaping. It can also lead to interior moisture issues, wood rods, and mold. The benefits of gutter cleaning far outweigh the costs when considering what could happen if you don’t clean your gutters.
Some people will want to hire a roofing contractor or a business that specializes in gutter cleaning, which is great for a property with hard-to-reach gutters at a high elevation or a pitched roof with a steep gradient. Still, for those who want to save on the cost of gutter cleaning, this blog will give you five important tips so you can stay safe and accomplish the mission of gutter cleaning!
The Best Time For Gutter Cleaning
Before we jump in, let’s clarify the best time of year to clean your gutters. Ideally, you should clean your gutters a few times a year or once a quarter to be sufficiently on top of it. However, there are two key moments in the year when gutter cleaning will reduce your property’s chance of clogged gutter damage.
Right After Leaves Have Fallen In Autumn
Once the last leaves have fallen, usually in late November, this is prime time for gutter cleaning. Most likely, your gutters will be more full of leaves and debris at this time than at any other point in the year. During this time, it’s also a good idea to get ahead of your gutter cleaning before hanging your Christmas lights.
Late Spring or Early Summer
About 6 months before (or after) the end of fall is the next best time to have your gutters cleaned. While there is less leaf build-up during these months, depending on which climate you live in, this time of year is known for being rainy, so expect a building of debris from multiple seasonal storms.
The Top 5 Gutter Cleaning Tips
Have Someone Assist You On A Ladder
To safely clean your gutters, it is important to stick to the buddy system! We’re only human, so mistakes are possible; however, they are less likely if you have someone assist you with holding the ladder for cleaning gutters.
These ladders can be found at your local hardware store and are lightweight, easy to use, and adjustable, which makes them a great choice for anyone who wants to safely access the gutters around the first floor of a property.
Please keep in mind anything higher than one story usually calls for a large extension ladder or “little giant” which can make gutter cleaning more of a dangerous project. This is when you may want to consider hiring a roofing contractor or gutter cleaning company to lend a hand.
Ideally, a strong friend, family member, or neighbor can assist at the bottom of the ladder to ensure stability and help protect you from falls. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that around thousands are injured from falls related to the gutter cleaning each year! In fact, one of our friends’ fathers broke his leg in two places when trying to clean his gutters on the 2nd story using an extension ladder without any help. The unfortunate truth is that most of these injuries were likely preventable.
Remove Debris First
Over the course of a year, gutters do become filled with all kinds of debris, including leaves, pine needles, pine cones, trash, toys (i.e., balls if at a school), and other debris.
If your property is near a lot of trees, there’s probably a very good chance your gutters are filled with leaves, twigs, and branches.
Most of the debris found in gutters is usually pieces of trees and other organic matter; however, we’ve found shoes, car parts, antennas, and even a TV remote control in a gutter. Over time, as the gutters fill up with water, the organic matter will start to saturate and form blockages that cause the gutters to act as a dam rather than a form of positive drainage for the roof. This is usually the start of gutter damage because heavy gutters weighed down by debris can become completely detached from the structure and fall!
You will want to make sure you use a tool, like a small plastic shovel or garden trowel, to remove debris from the gutters safely. For debris that is hard to reach, you can use some helpful tools covered in the next section.
Use Proper Equipment
Like any home improvement task, using the proper equipment is necessary to get the job done with as little hassle as possible. Here is a list of the pieces you will need to do a thorough gutter cleaning on your property.
- Adjustable Ladder: Ladders that can be adjusted to fit the height of your gutters perfectly are best for the job. Ladders for cleaning gutters are found at local hardware stores, and the variable length/collapsible types (i.e., “little giants” or telescoping) are handy for any homeowner.
- Work Gloves: A sturdy pair of heavy-duty gloves will protect and keep your hands clean while you’re scooping out your gutters. You’ll be thankful you remembered gloves!
- Hand Shovel: A small shovel or garden trowel will make cleaning a severely clogged gutter that much easier.
- Leaf Blower or Pressure Washer: For safely cleaning light debris (i.e., leaves, pine needles, etc.), a leaf blower can do wonders and fast! Nowadays, many of them will even have a gutter cleaning attachment for leaf blowers included, simplifying things. A pressure washer can accomplish the same end result, as well as clean off your roof while you’re already up there.
- Cleaning Solution: Environmentally-friendly cleaners that won’t hurt your gutter finish or leave a lot of residues, like an environmentally-friendly multi-purpose cleaner, should do the trick.
- Eye Protection: When using a leaf blower or a pressure washer for gutter cleaning, it’s important to protect your eyes from debris that may kick up. Don’t risk impairing your vision while you’re on a ladder or a roof!
- Hand Towels and Trash Bags: For cleaning up after you’re done.
Downspouts are part of the drainage system, usually located at opposite ends of a run of gutter. They run down the side of a building vertically to direct accumulated water away from your foundation. If the gutters aren’t cleaned regularly, the downspouts can become clogged and backed up from debris that has piled up, putting the system at risk of erosion and water damage to the building.
Using the hand shovel, remove and dispose of leaves, pine needles, and other blockages from the bottom of the downspout, and using your nearest outdoor spigot run and a garden hose, run water from the top to ensure the blockage is cleared. The downspout and gutters must be clear so rainwater can freely travel down the drainage system and out a designated path. Sometimes if the downspout is too clogged, it may require removal, manual cleaning, and re-installation of the downspout; this may require you to call a professional roofing contractor or gutter company.
Schedule Routine Maintenance
The key to an effortless gutter cleaning experience is keeping up with regular cleanings in the first place. The semi-annual cleanings will ensure that excessive debris won’t build up and reduce the gutter and roof damage risk.
Select the dates you want to clean your gutters and set a reminder to do it every quarter or six months. To be more helpful, you could set it around the same time as other scheduled maintenance plans, like roofing maintenance, and focus on taking care of all your roofing systems at once.
For information on roofing maintenance plans, take a look at our roofing maintenance page here.
Bonus Tip: Gutter Guards
If you’re looking for a way to prevent your gutters from filling up in the first place, consider purchasing gutter guards.
Gutter guards are typically metal-grated coverings that help prevent debris from collecting in your gutters. They help protect the gutters from clogging and only allow water to pass through. With hardly any dirt and leaves to remove throughout the year, gutter cleaning is a breeze and only takes a few minutes.
We hope you found this blog helpful! Remember, gutter cleaning is dangerous, so it shouldn’t be done without supervision and the proper gear. Always make sure you’re up to the task of climbing up the ladder too. Happy gutter cleaning!