Keeping your rain gutters clear is necessary to keeping your home in good shape. Not only does it protect your foundation and siding from excess water, a clean gutter system can prevent dangerous ice dams from forming in the winter. These reasons are why it is important to periodically clean your gutters and downspouts from fallen leaves, trash and debris.
How Often Should You Clean Your Gutters
At a minimum, you should clean your gutters and downspouts once per year. If you can only get around to it one time, I recommend right after your trees lose their leaves.
If your house is underneath a heavy deciduous canopy, I suggest once during mid-fall, once after the trees are bare, and a quick follow-up after spring storms.
Before You Clean: Safety Precautions
If you have a high roof I would suggest looking into a ladder stabilizer (check price on Amazon). This device will help keep you from damaging your gutters from leaning the ladder against them and will also help keep your ladder secure against the roof.
Be sure the ladder has a solid footing on level ground. It is also a good idea to have someone steady the ladder and lend a helping hand in case you drop something or need a hand with the debris.
Watch out for power/cable lines and low-hanging branches which could cause your ladder to become unsteady.
Another good safety tip is to always maintain three points of contact with the ladder. This means that of your two hands and two feet, three of them are always in contact with the ladder. It’s a safety point that I adhere to and often preach to others.
How to Clean Gutters (The Old-Fashioned and Best Method)
The best tools a man has are his hands. And they are the perfect size for this job. Gutters can contain a lot of gunk so a pair of waterproof gloves will go a long way.
Without reaching too far, take your time and work down the gutters, scooping out the leaves and debris into a bucket or tarp on the ground. If you try and reach too far, you may lose your balance. Slow and steady wins the race.
Just remove the big stuff on this first pass. Later, you can come back around with a garden hose and nozzle to spray out all of the smaller debris.
This is also a good time to check that the gutters are not sagging, there are no leaks, and they are anchored securely to your roof. Check that the downspouts are draining properly as well.
Don’t forget, those wet moldy leaves are perfect ingredients for your compost bin.
Other Gutter Cleaning Methods
If this doesn’t sound like fun, there are a couple of other ways to keep you gutters cleaned.
Mesh Guards and Plastic Covers
You can buy covers and guards for your gutters that will allow water to pass while keeping leaves and gunk out. There is the expense and hassle of installation involved, but this is an easy DIY job for a weekend.
Use a blower
I don’t recommend this method. Climbing up on a ladder with a heavy leaf blower pushing me around doesn’t sound like a good idea. If your life insurance premiums are paid up, go for it.
If you do this, start at the downspouts and blow away from them to keep them from getting clogged. Curved attachments are available that focus the blown air and give you a longer reach. I have not used these so I can’t vouch for their effectiveness.
Curved Spraying Wands
You can buy an extension to your pressure washer that has a curved an angled spray head (check price on Amazon).
Depending on your roof height this may help with cleaning your gutters if you don’t have a ladder or you can’t reach them with the ladder you have available. This won’t flush out all of the bigger limbs and what not that are wedged in tight.
Hiring it Done
If you’ve got more money than time, you can always hire this chore out. How much does it cost to clean gutters? Rates vary by location and house size but on average you could expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $300 for a 2400 square foot home.
Costs can increase for 3-story homes to cover the increased risk and difficulty.
Cleaning your gutters isn’t a task that is as satisfying as looking at a freshly mowed lawn. But nevertheless, it is an important maintenance routine that must be handled if you want to protect your home from the damages of excess water.