How to Clean your Gutters

How to Clean your Gutters

Cleaning your gutters safely and efficiently requires that you take your time and use the right tools. If you do the job correctly, your gutters will flow the way that they should. Many homeowners think that they can just climb up to their gutters, pull some leaves out, and all will be fine. This is not necessarily the case. Read below to learn how to properly clean your gutters safely and efficiently.

How to Access Your Gutters

Most gutters sit around the outer rim of your house, and they could be very far off the ground if your home is more than one level. The gutters themselves tend to be open as they move around the edge of the house, but are closed as they drop down to the ground level to funnel water away from the house. 

Climb up a ladder to reach the gutters and see how full they are. Be sure to check that the ladder is stable and secure before climbing. You need to inspect the gutters for damage, and you need to get an idea of the kind of debris that is blocking the water from flowing. When your gutters have a cover on them, you will need to remove that cover to reach inside. If you do not know how to remove the cover, you should consult the gutter manufacturer’s user guide. 

Do you have gutters that are very far off the ground? Then maybe you should call a professional to help you. Most people don’t want to climb that high to clean their gutters. Instead, they might want to climb up to another part of the roof with a garden hose, spray water into the gutters, and hope to get them clean. Safe access to your roof is a prerequisite for all gutter cleaning.

What Is In Your Gutters

Gutters fill up with leaves, pine straw, and an assortment of other debris that will not flow down to the bottom of the downspouts. These things get stuck in the gutters, and the water will not flow. Also, the gutters could get weighed down by the debris and may start to droop off the edge of the roof. If you wait too long, the weight of the debris can tear the gutters from the side of your house.

If you have branches in your gutters, you need to start thinking about how you can keep these large pieces of debris out of the gutters. A gutter cover could be beneficial, be sure that you don’t allow these branches to get wet, break down, and sit in your gutters for long periods of time.

Leaks That Go Into The House

Clogged gutters will prevent water from flowing correctly. The stagnant water will eventually leak back into the walls of your home. When leals are occurring, you will likely see water running down the outer walls of your house. The walls will have watermarks that are hard to clean, and the water will continue to drip because you will have water soaked into leaves and pine straw in the gutters. 

Getting rid of leaks requires that you take immediate action. You might notice breaks or gaps in the gutters that were covered up by debris that was in the gutters. Look into how to repair your gutters with some basic products like an epoxy or silicone caulk that can easily be used to seal up gaps and keep them waterproof. 

Use A Trash Bag

You will need a trash bag when cleaning your gutters. Don’t just drop the debris around the edge of your home, or else you will need to clean it up a second time. We recommend that you pull out as much as you can, drop all the debris into a bag, and move on. You can get rid of the trash bag when it gets too full, and then move on to another part of the gutter system. 

You can attach the trash bag to the ladder or even to your belt so that you can drop items into your bag as you clean. This is a straightforward system to keep up as you are circling the house to clean the gutters. 

Filling up a few trash bags with debris will give you an idea of how much debris is collecting every week or month. You need to know how much cleaning is required to keep your gutters clean, and you need to be sure that you have taken a hard look at your options because there are so many ways to clean the gutters. If you get branches and straw, you need to use garden tools. If you have a lot of leaves, you can pull them out by hand.

Wear Gloves

You do not want to grab all those debris with your bare hands. Leaves, branches, and other bits of waste are not always safe for you to handle, be sure to use gloves to protect your hands. You never know what else you might find in the gutters, and you do not want to be injured by a lack of simple protection. Using a garden tool such as a small spade or rake will also help you pull all the debris out from the gutters.

Bring goggles so that you do not have any debris shoot into your face. You should also move slow so that you do not get hurt or cause any debris to fly in the air. 

Just to be safe, try attaching a rope from your ladder to your belt. This rope is a useful safety device that you will catch you if you ever fall. When you are planning to do your gutter cleaning safely, you should not climb on your roof, leave that to the professionals.

What Happens on the Corners

The corners of your house can be tough to reach because you might not have a place to prop up your ladder or reach into the gutters. You need to be very careful when reaching into the corners of the gutters, and you should not reach your hand into the downspout until everything else is clean. 

The corner portions of the gutters should be cleaned carefully, tightened, adjusted, and repaired often. You do not want to see the gutter system break down because you did not spend time on repairs in the corners.

What If The Downspouts Are Clogged?

The downspouts of your home might be clogged with debris that was not cleaned out of your gutters. The downspouts are not safe to reach into, but you can still try to pull out some of these items to see if you can clear the clog. When you have pulled out some debris, you will probably hear the rest of the waste fall to the bottom of the downspout. 

Downspouts can be pulled apart for cleaning, but you must be very careful when detaching one section of the downspout from another. Someone who wants to complete this job on their won should bring a screwdriver and mallet to help release the downspout from the wall. The debris can be pulled from the downspout because you can reach in more easily. You might even use a hose to spray water into the downspout to clear out the debris. You can do the same with your gutters if the hose is long enough.

Repairing Damage

You should repair as much damage as you can. The gutters on your home could be bent or pulling away from the walls of the house. Tighten any screws that are getting loose, and bend the metal on the gutters if you see that they are damaged. Ensure that all of the different joints on the will fit together, and you must check to see that the water will flow directly into the downspout.

Do the same thing to your downspouts if they are not attached to the house properly. For the most part, you can tighten the brackets to keep the downspouts in place. You should check the bottom swoop of every downspout so that the water flows away from the house. You will have flooding in your basement if you allow water to pour along the edges of the house.

What If You Cannot Get Debris Out Of Your Gutters

There are times when you will have a massive clump of debris in your gutters that will be hard for you to remove. If you cannot remove all the debris, you need to break it up with a garden tool. If you are still having trouble, you may need to call a professional to help you. When you call for assistance, you should let them know what you have already done to maintain or repair your gutters. We give you the above recommendations because we want you to know how to take care of your own home. At the same time, we will come to help you if you need it.

Debris that physically sticks to the interior of the gutter will be washed away in the next rainstorm if you have exposed this debris during your cleanup. The debris that was covered up by a large mound of leaves could stick to a metal gutter, and it will usually break free when the next rain comes through.

How Often Should You Clean The Gutters?

You should clean your gutters at least once a month if you have a lot of trees around your home. If you get a lot of rain during the year, you need to remember that the gutters will clog quickly if you have a lot of rain, and you can even hear if the gutters are flowing. Walk outside for just a moment in the rain to listen to the gutters flow. If you do not hear water flowing, then it’s time to do some cleaning.

Try getting on a weekly schedule for cleaning your gutters, it is relatively easy to clean the gutters. If you get to the end of a season and have forgotten to clean your gutters, you need to try to clean them up before it gets too cold or too hot to get it down. If you have people in your family helping, you should give everyone a job to do so that they can get the job done quickly.

How Do You Put Covers On Your Gutters?

You can purchase custom covers that will prevent debris from getting into your gutters, or you could order new gutters that come with a cover. Consider getting new gutters as part of an upgrade to your home, or you might want to install more gutters because you have an issue with water runoff around the house. You can use the same tips to keep the gutters clean, and you can call Lawn Love at any time for help.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning out your gutters is just one part of taking care of your home, and you need to ensure that you are cleaning the gutters of all debris so that you do not have any leaks or problems with the gutters being too full. Use a garden tool to break up waste, and make sure that you have tightened screws, checked gutter covers, and pulled debris from the downspouts. If you’re afraid of heights, call Lawn Love to help.

Sara Butler

Sara Butler has written scores of articles for Lawn Love -- everything from how to revive your dead lawn to how to start to lawn care tools every homeowner should have.