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How to Clean Your Home's Gutters

Raking leaves, mowing the lawn and shoveling the driveway are all tasks you regularly perform throughout the seasons. After all, it’s important to keep your yard well maintained and healthy — not to mention it helps with your home’s curb appeal. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to add one more essential task to your home maintenance checklist: cleaning out your home’s gutters.

Clean Gutters to Prevent Big Problems

While cleaning out your gutters isn’t the most glamorous or beautifying thing to do, keeping your gutters clean is a simple task that can protect your home from some serious damage.

Here’s why you need to clean your gutters and simple instructions on how to do it safely and efficiently.

Why Does a House Need Clean Gutters?

Keeping your gutters clean is more important than you think. Gutters are designed to prevent rain from flowing off and pooling around the foundation of your home, which can cause expensive damage. Over time, leaves build up and clog the downspouts, meaning the water can’t properly flow away from your home’s foundation.

Clearing out your gutters helps protect your home in a number of ways, like:

Controlling the flow of rainwater

Empty gutters let you control where your roof water goes. Whether it’s to a rain barrel or simply through a downspout and onto the lawn, you’re keeping the water away from your foundation, which prevents damage to your home.

Protecting your siding

Properly functioning gutters will keep excess rain from creeping in and around your siding, windows and foundation, which can cause discoloration and structural damage, like rotting.

Preventing a flooded basement

The more water seeps into the soil, the more pressure that water puts on your foundation, which could cause your basement walls to crack or push inward. Saturated soils can also result in water flowing in and flooding your basement, as well as causing moisture problems, like mold growth.

Keeping your landscaping happy

If you’ve worked hard to make your yard look great, large amounts of water run-off from your roof can wash away landscaping efforts and plantings. Cleaning your gutters lets you direct the flow of the rainwater away from your beautiful blooms.

The Best Way to Clean Gutters

Making a gutter cleaning session part of your spring and fall home maintenance routine is an important, proactive habit to keep roof water run-off away from your home and landscaping. It also gives you the opportunity to inspect your rain gutters for leaks and sagging zones.

When you‘re ready to tackle the task yourself, here are six simple steps for cleaning out gutters:

Assemble all materials and tools

Before you take on the task of cleaning out your gutters, be sure that you’re fit for the job. You’ll need to work carefully on a ladder, so be sure to find a contractor to help you get the work done if it doesn’t feel right. Here’s what you’ll need to get those gutters sparkling clean:

Gutter cleaning tools and materials

  • Ladder
  • Gutter scoop or gardening shovel
  • Tarp or bucket
  • Garden hose
  • Work gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Cleaning pails
  • Power drill
  • Gutter hanger (if needed)
  • Mold & mildew cleaner
  • Sealant

Use a sturdy ladder

Trying to clean the gutters from the roof can be dangerous. Your best bet is to use a ladder with ladder horns, which help keep the gutter from being damaged. Make sure your ladder is on stable ground and have someone spot you, like a family member or neighbor, for added safety.

Also, you might think it’s easiest to reach out as far as you can so you don’t have to move the ladder, but the risk isn’t worth it. Remember to keep your waist between the ladder rails and save yourself potential harm by getting down and moving the ladder along the gutter to get all the debris out.

Get the gunk out

You can scoop out debris with a gutter scoop, small gardening shovel or simply use your hands with a pair of rubber gloves. Lay a tarp down below the gutters so you can drop the debris and move the tarp along with the ladder, or you can use a bucket for disposal.

Check your gutter’s slope for sagging

The pitch of your gutters play a key role in their ability to safely move water off your roof and away from your home. Over time, snow loads, ice and wind can all adjust the slope of your gutters and they may start to sag in the middle. To fix this, try installing hidden bracket gutter hangers. And remember: you can always hire a professional if you’re not up to the task. You’ll need the following tools and materials:

  • A tall ladder to safely get you up to the gutter, and someone to spot your ladder
  • Exterior grade screws to attach the gutter hangers
  • A cordless drill to drive the screws into the fascia

Flush the gutters out with your hose

Once you’ve gotten as much as you can out with a shovel or your hands, it’s time to flush the gutters out. Use a garden hose to force water through the downspouts to ensure they’re clean.

Start at the end opposite the downspout and put the hose on full force. Check that the water is coming cleanly through the spout. If there’s a clog, work the hose up the downspout until it’s cleared.

Seal up leaks and touch up with paint

You may find that while cleaning out the gutters, they may need repairs. If you find a leak between seams, dry the area off with a towel and apply a bead of exterior grade silicon sealant to the area.

Alternative: Hire a Pro to Clean Out Your Gutters

If you’re uncomfortable with ladders and heights or cleaning gutters simply isn’t your idea of a good time, there are plenty of professional services that can handle the job for you.

How much should I pay to have my gutters cleaned?

Pricing is usually based on the size of your house, the amount of time since your last cleaning and other factors like roof slope, and if you need any of the gutters repaired.

FAQs on Cleaning Out Gutters

Getting your gutters in shape can be a challenge for those that haven’t taken on the task before. If you’ve got questions about gutter cleaning, we’re here with some answers:

  1. Rainwater won’t drain properly, and it may leak through your foundation and into your basement. And as the seasons change, if water cannot drain and snow builds up, ice dams can form. These heavy icicles can pull gutters from their mounts, and leak water into your roof’s attic, and down your walls.
  2. Getting the job done right all depends on the size of your home, and the amount of material you need to clean out. The job can range from a half an hour to half a day.
  3. The good news is that cleaning your gutters only has to be done a couple times a year. It’s recommended to clean them at least once in the spring and then again in the fall as part of your home winterizing routine. However, if you have a lot of trees in your yard or experience several storms and rain, you’ll want to check them more often than that.

    Keep in mind, cleaning out your gutters is a lot easier when dry. It’s not fun dealing with wet, mucky leaves and gunk! If you know a storm is in the forecast, do a quick spot check of areas near the downspouts to make sure water will be able to flow through.

Protect Your Home Maintenance Efforts

Cleaning your gutters doesn’t have to be a complicated or time-consuming chore. Remember, you work hard for your home, so it’s important you take necessary steps to keep it protected. Make sure to head to our home maintenance hub for even more ways to keep your home in tip-top shape all year long!

Another easy way to protect your home? Home insurance. Connect with your agent to make sure your home is properly covered for the new season ahead.

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Related Topics: Home DIY , Owning A Home