How to Clean Your Home's Gutters

A small task that can prevent big problems.


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 the curb appeal. If you don’t already, you’ll want to add one more essential task to your home maintenance checklist: cleaning out your home’s gutters.

While cleaning out your gutters isn’t exactly something you can show off once completed, 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 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:

Control the flow. Clear 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.

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

Prevent 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.

Keep your landscaping happy. If you’ve worked hard to make your yard look great, large amounts of water run-off from your roof can be a major, unexpected bummer. Cleaning your gutters lets you direct the flow of the rainwater away from your beautiful blooms.

When Should You Clean Your Gutters?

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. 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.

What Is 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, use these tips on how to clean gutters:

Use a 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 consider a spotter 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 moving the ladder along the gutter to get all the debris out.

Getting 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.

Flush it out. 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 hose to force water though 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 down spout until it’s cleared.

Hire a pro. 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. 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.

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. Another easy way to protect your home? Home insurance. Connect with your American Family Insurance 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