How to Clean Gutters

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How to Clean Gutters

Clogged gutters can cause extensive damage to your home. Keeping gutters clear is especially important in the autumn season as leaves and debris can build up quickly. The good news about gutter cleaning is that it’s relatively easy. The job typically requires a ladder to clear debris, though alternative options are available. Check out our Gutters page to learn more about how we can help with gutter replacement, repairs, and new installations.

Cleaning gutters with a ladder:

  1. Examine the gutter system. Before you begin cleaning, examine gutters and downspouts for clogs. If the system is not completely blocked, you may be able to clear debris with a garden hose and an attachment.
  2. Gather materials. Bob Vila recommends an extension ladder, thick gloves, a garden trowel or gutter scoop, and a bucket for debris collection. We also encourage stand-off stabilizers to prevent the ladder from damaging gutters.
  3. Prioritize safety. Using a ladder improperly can cause serious injury. Ask a spotter to hold the ladder as you work. Never stand on the top rung, and avoid reaching too far (keep your body within the side rails). Do not use a ladder in wet or slippery conditions. Take note of any potential hazards such as power lines or doors that open outward.
  4. Remove debris. It’s easiest to clean gutters when the debris is completely dry. Work in small sections to scoop the debris, collecting it in the bucket.
  5. Flush the gutters. Use a garden hose to confirm gutters and downspouts are working properly. This also helps clear finer debris.

Cleaning gutters without a ladder:

If you’d rather avoid ladders altogether, there are several alternative methods:

  • A garden hose with an extended, high-pressure attachment allows you to clean gutters from the ground. Be sure to point the hose downstream. This method is best for clearing smaller debris.
  • Gutter cleaning kits are available for vacuums, hoses, and leaf blowers. They include attachments for different parts of the gutter system and types of debris.

Professional gutter cleaning services typically cost around $100 to $200. If you would rather avoid the stress and hassle of cleaning your gutters, professionals can do the job quickly and efficiently. This option is especially helpful during the winter when snow and ice can make other methods unsafe or more difficult.

How often should gutters be cleaned?

The National Center for Healthy Housing encourages homeowners to clean their gutters in the spring and fall of each year. However, homes in close proximity to trees often require more frequent cleaning. It’s always a good idea to check gutters before and after storms or heavy rain if possible.

Why keep gutters clean?

Clearing gutters may not be an exciting home improvement project, but it’s a relatively easy and necessary task. A clean gutter system helps prevent the following problems related to water damage:

  • Foundation problems. When water is not directed far enough away from a house, it can leak into the foundation. This can weaken it, potentially causing cracks, shifting, and settling.
  • Damage to exterior surfaces. Consistent running or pooling water can damage siding, trim, and exterior doors—including garage overhead doors. It can also stain brick and stone surfaces.
  • Rot, mold, and mildew. Moisture allows rot, mold, and mildew to thrive in sneaky environments—behind siding, in crawl spaces, and in framing. This can eventually compromise your home’s structural integrity.
  • FloodingExcessive pooling can lead to basement flooding, causing damage to the entry point, flooring, and furniture or belongings inside.
  • Water leaks.  Gutter problems can mimic roof leaks when clogged. Visible water at the junction of ceilings and walls near your home’s exterior can indicate gutter overflow.
  • Soil erosion. Improper drainage paths can erode soil, leaving more room for water to pool and seep deeper toward the foundation. Soil erosion can also disrupt landscaping.
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