How Do Gutters Work?
Gutters installed along the roofline and eaves of a house act to route rain runoff away from the house. Water runs down the roof, into the gutter and down the downspout directed away from the house or into a water recycling barrel. Gutters and downspouts work together to keep rainwater from damaging your home's siding, roof and foundation. Downspouts and gutters are key during all types of weather, but when clogs occur in your gutters, downspouts can malfunction and potentially damage your home.
Why Should You Clean Out Your Gutters?
Left unchecked and without gutters, water can drip from the eaves of the roof down walls and into a house's foundation. This will cause leaks in the roof and damage to the foundation. This can be a significant issue, especially during times of heavy rain, when the soil surrounding a house may be saturated. Without gutters, water can erode soil away from the foundation and damage the masonry.
Clogged roof gutters also can send torrents of water down the side of your house, making canyons of your flowerbeds and saturating your foundation. Overflow not only damages the home but also eventually can pull the gutter loose.
These home issues are not only annoying but also can be incredibly expensive, costing thousands of dollars to repair! Having clog-free, seamless gutters will divert water away from your home, mitigating any potential water damage.
How Often Should You Clean Gutters?
If you have no trees overhanging your home, clean gutters at least once a year. If there are trees above your home, clean gutters twice a year.
How to Clean Gutters
What to Wear: When you clean out your gutters you’ll be exposed to all the debris-clogged within, and possibly wildlife that’s made a home in your gutters.
- Wear long pants and a shirt with long sleeves to protect your skin.
- Consider shoes that have a rubber sole if you need to walk on a roof or use a ladder.
- Good gloves protect your hands from muck, sharp metal, and sheet metal screws.
- Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes. Gutter debris can contain bird, pigeon and squirrel feces, which can carry bacteria.
Equipment You'll Need:
- Stable, extendable ladder
- Small garden trowel (to remove gunk)
- Plastic tarp (to throw gunk onto)
- Bead silicon sealing (if needed)
- Garden hose
- Pressure cleaner (if you have one)
- Stiff brush
Step 1. Use a rake or leaf blower to remove debris that would otherwise end up in the gutter during the next downpour.
Step 2. Place your sturdy ladder on a firm, level base, and climb on up. Start at the drain outlet at the lower end of the gutter.
Step 3. Using your small garden trowel, clean out dead leave, limbs and any other debris in the gutter or downspout. Toss it onto the tarp you’ve laid out below.
Step 4. Inspect the gutter. Note any leaks, and remove any old repair caulking. Dry the area before re-caulking the seams and holes. New bead silicon sealing will keep water from getting behind the gutters and rotting the boards. If you notice any rust on the gutters or downspouts, you may want to consider replacing them altogether.
Step 5. Get your hose or pressure washer out. Rinse out all the gutters until the water runs clear. Try to avoid splattering mud all over your house. Use a stiff scrub brush to remove encrusted dirt.
Step 6. Clear any remaining debris in the downspout. If flushing the downspout doesn’t work, try a plumber’s snake. Make sure your downspout points away from your home; if it does not, add an extender to carry the water away.
That’s it, you’re done!
Not Into Cleaning Your Gutters That Often?
Don’t worry, you have other options.
Gutter Covers or Guards - You can slow clogging by installing gutter covers in the form of mesh screens, clip-on grates or porous foam.
Leaf Blower - If you have a leaf blower, a mask and goggles you can try to blow dry debris out of the gutters. Be very careful while you do this.
Gutter Cleaning Kit - A gutter cleaning kit attaches to a leaf blower, making short work of clogs. Just be sure to wear protective clothing and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
Keeping gutters clean and clear will save you money on repairs in the long run. Follow the 6 steps above, and get to work!
Looking for more details? Try this how to video or list of tips!