Gutter cleaning is everyone’s least favorite job, but it has to be done at least once a year to help keep your home in tip-top shape and to avoid leaks. We often recommend homeowners clean their gutters in the fall, after the leaves have fallen but before the snow starts up. This can help you avoid ice dams in the winter. That said, it’s also good to clear out gutters in the spring before heavy rains start to fall. Whether you clear your gutters out in the spring or fall, or both, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the best way to clean gutters and downspouts.
Dress for the Job
Cleaning the gutters is a dirty job, there’s just no way around it. Make sure you’re wearing long pants, long sleeves, and gloves. You might consider wearing latex gloves under your work gloves, to keep your hands dry when clearing out any waterlogged debris. It’s also a good idea to wait to clean your gutters out until a few days after it has rained, if possible. This gives debris a chance to dry out, making your gutter cleaning job much easier.
Gather Your Supplies
Once you’ve picked a gutter cleaning day, you’ll want to gather your supplies. Since the best way to clean gutters and downspouts is on a ladder, it’s a good idea to have everything you need right at your fingertips. This eliminates as much up and down the ladder as possible. You’ll need:
- A ladder that’s tall enough to reach your gutters.
- Two buckets
- A hose that will reach your gutters
- A small scoop or trowel
If you can, hook your buckets to your ladder — one for your scoop and tools, and one to collect debris from the gutters. This will help you go about your work a bit more efficiently, and lessen the time the job takes you.
Remember Ladder Safety
It’s just about time to get started but remember safety comes first. You’re going to be up on the ladder all afternoon, so make sure you’re following all safety precautions. If you’re using an extension ladder, make sure the extension is fully secured before stepping up. Never climb above the second to last rung on a ladder.
Clear Large Debris from Gutters
The best way to clean gutters and downspouts is to start with the biggest problem, and that’s debris. The first real step of gutter cleaning is getting all of the leaves, sticks, and whatever else is clogging up your gutters, out. Start at a downspout, and work your way around the house. When you’re repositioning your ladder, think about placing it in the middle of a section. This way, you can extend your reach by clearing out both sides without having to move the ladder.
With all of those leaves and debris removed, it’s time to make your gutters sparkle. Flush gutters out with a high powered spray nozzle on your hose. This should work to remove as many stains and leftover dirt as possible. If you’re really into gutter cleaning this year, you can rent a power washer to make sure your gutters are spick and span, but it’s not necessary.
Check Your Downspouts
It’s easy to forget about downspouts, especially after you’ve done all the work of removing debris from the rest of your gutter systems. But, if you’re looking for the best way to clean gutters and downspouts, this is an important step you won’t want to forget. Downspouts direct water away from your home’s foundation. If they’re clogged they can present water damage issues to the structure of your home.
Check your downspouts for clogs by running water from the hose down them. If less water is coming out at the bottom than you’re putting in at the top, you’ve got a clog.
Clear any Downspout Clogs
If you’ve identified a downspout clog, there are a few ways to get rid of it. First, remove the bottom end of your downspout if yours feeds into an underground system or extends far beyond your foundation or landscaping.
Then, feed your hose up the downspout about as far as you can. Turn the water on full pressure. This should dislodge the clog, but if not, you can use a plumber’s snake.
Check For Any Gutter Leaks
Once your downspouts and gutters are clean, you’re just about done! Flush your gutters one last time, paying close attention to see if water is leaking out at any point. If you do identify any water leaking through seams, you’ll want to make a small repair. Also, check for standing water. If water collects at any point in your gutter system, that means the slope of your system is off. You’ll have to do a bit of maintenance, in the form of repositioning gutter hangers, to get that water flowing freely to the proper downspout.
And that’s just about it. Finish your gutter cleaning by sealing any seams and joints that are leaking. If you’ve got a bit of extra time, it never hurts to touch gutters up with paint where necessary. Other than that, you’re done for at least the next six months, if not a full year.
We hope this guide on the best way to clean gutters and downspouts helps you get your gutter system in top shape for the next season. But, if cleaning gutters just isn’t your thing, no worries. Werner Roofing can help! As roofing professionals, we’ve seen our fair share of gutters, and we don’t mind cleaning them out for you. Best of all, while we’re up there, we can give your roof a quick once-over, just to make sure everything is ready to go for the winter. If you’re ready to schedule your maintenance, just give us a call at 616-844-5382, or contact us online today for a free estimate!