Fall is here! It’s time to clean out your gutters before the rain and frost come. During the winter, if your gutters don’t flow properly, the heavy rains and freezing temperatures can damage your property. First time cleaning your gutters? Here are a TEN important gutter cleaning tips:
Gutter Cleaning Tips
Tip #1: Clean the roof first
Using a leaf blower or your hands and a bucket, clear off any debris on your roof. Otherwise, the roof debris will wash into your gutters after the next rain, and you’ll have to clean your gutters all over again.
Tip #2: Get a gutter scoop
A gutter scoop is a very thin, plastic scooping tool. It forms itself to the bottom of the gutter trough, making it easy to scoop out the debris. Many people try to save money by using a metal shovel. However, any metal tools you use can easily scrape, dent, and damage your gutters.
Start your cleaning by using your hands and scooper to remove all the large debris. You place the debris in a bucket or drop it into your yard and rake it up later.
Tip #3: Use a garden hose or leaf blower
Once you’ve removed the large debris, you can use either a garden hose or leaf blower to clear out the remaining debris.
Be sure to use a hose with a nozzle so you can control the water pressure. This way, you can also rest your hose on the gutter while adjusting your ladder, bucket, or scoop. A hose works well for wet debris that is stuck in the gutters.
In contrast, consider using a leaf blower for dry debris you can blow out of the gutters. Exercise extreme caution when using a leaf blower and utilize it at your own risk. Be sure you have an extra-sturdy ladder and someone on the ground to spot you.
Tip #4: Unclog the downspouts
After cleaning out your gutter runs, remove any visible debris from the top and bottom of your downspout. Next, direct your hose water into the downspout from the top opening. If water backs up to the top or isn’t draining well, your downspout has a clog.
Try to unclog it by tapping the side of the downspout. If that doesn’t work, using your leaf blower, blow down the downspout from the top opening to dislodge the debris. remove any loose debris and try the water test again.
If your downspout is still clogged, you should hire a professional to clean out the downspout. While this may sound tedious, a gutter system is pointless without its downspouts.
Now that we’ve gone over how to clean your gutters, let’s go over a few important safety gutter cleaning tips.
Tip #5: Practice ladder safety
Always let someone know you will be using a ladder to work on your building’s roof or gutters. Use a safe and sturdy ladder and be sure to secure the bucket (don’t just sit it on top).
For a single-story structure, you can use a step ladder. However, if your home is two-story or taller, you’ll need an extension ladder. If possible, use a step ladder or ladder with pads or a stabilizer so it won’t lean directly on your gutters. While made of metal, gutters are prone to bending or denting, so you don’t want to put too much weight or pressure on them.
Avoid unbalanced or wobbly ladders. We recommend fiberglass or aluminum ladders (not wooden!). Before using the ladder, inspect for defects, dents, or loose components.
Lastly, when opening a step ladder, make sure the hinge arms have locked in place.
Tip #6: Protect your hands
Always wear protective gloves when cleaning the gutters (not like the photo above!). Gloves can help protect your hands against bacteria-containing dirt and debris (gutters can contain animal droppings!). Secondly, gloves should protect your hands from any potential cuts from sharp sections of the gutters.
Many people use cotton, leather, or rubber gloves. But all of these have cons:
- Cotton tends to soak up dirty water that exposes skin to bacteria.
- Leather is not as flexible and tends to shrivel up when they dry.
- Rubber can get holes in the gloves from metal parts of the gutters.
So, what is the ideal type of glove to use? We recommend buying a thick glove that is coated in protective material or made from suede.
Tip #7: Protect your eyes
The debris in your gutters could be host to insects that’ll fly out as you clean the gutters. Not only that, if the debris is dry, you may kick up a lot of dust and small bits of leaves that could get into your eyes. Wear protective eyewear to make sure you’re protected from any surprise bug or leaf attacks. 🙂
Tip #8: Wear the proper footwear
Always wear slip-resistant shoes. If you need to walk on your roof to clean certain areas, wear slip-resistant shoes with rubber soles. Roofs are usually wet in the morning from the dew. With this in mind, be sure to only walk on your roof when it is completely dry to avoid slipping.
Roof tip: Always walk carefully on your roof to avoid damaging your shingles.
Tip #9: Watch out for power lines
Some homes have power lines that connect directly to the roof or gutters. Hopefully, yours doesn’t look like this. If you reach an area of your home with a powerline, do a thorough inspection of the area. Check to see where the electrical cable meets the roof, and make sure the protective wire insulation is still there and not worn down before proceeding with the cleaning.
If there is an electrical wire issue, wait to have the wire fixed before cleaning your gutters. And definitely do not clean the gutters when it is wet outside.
Tip #10: Schedule regular cleanings
Why schedule regular cleanings? First off, it’s very easy to forget. Unlike an oil change, a little light doesn’t flash on your gutters when it’s time for cleaning. Instead, it’s a matter of keeping an eye on them and having a set cleaning reminder–whether that be on your calendar or through a professional gutter cleaning service.
Secondly, when you keep your gutters clean, you prevent your house from accumulating water damage. Clogs lead to overflowing gutters and water damage on different parts of your property.
Bonus Gutter Cleaning Tip: Invest in gutter guards
Bonus tip! If you’re tired of gutter cleanings or just can’t seem to keep your gutters clean no matter how often you clean them, consider gutter guards. Gutter guards significantly reduce the need for gutter cleanings. Instead, the only maintenance they should need is a quick blow-off here and there with a leaf blower. Premium gutter guards can keep out leaves, pine needles, shingle granules, pests, nests, and more!
We hope these gutter cleaning tips are helpful as you start this DIY project. Questions? Give us a call at 919-444-5042!
Not interested in cleaning your gutters yourself? You’re not alone. It’s time-consuming, dirty, and sometimes a safety hazard. Contact us here for a FREE gutter cleaning or gutter guard estimate!