Cleaning Gutters: The Best Strategies to Protect Your Home

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Cleaning Gutters
Roof and Gutters Power Cleaning Using Pressure Washer. Caucasian Worker.

Gutters are essential for keeping water out of and away from a house. For gutters to work properly, they must be free of debris and dirt, and there are several methods for cleaning them. Keep reading for the best tips.

Why are Clean Gutters Important?

Gutters collect the rain that falls on a roof and diverts it through downspouts and away from a home’s foundation. Rain gutters are essential because water that comes near the foundation of a house can cause leaks around windows or in basements and crawlspaces. Gutter Cleaning is an important part of home maintenance.

A gutter system protects a home’s roof, walls, foundation, and landscape. As debris builds up, gutters may begin to sag, mold may grow, basements may become wet, and interior walls may be damaged. Pests and rodents like to live in gutters filled with debris. Neglecting gutters can lead to expensive repairs in the future.

Cleaning Gutters
Low angle view of new house with wooden roof and gutter against clear blue sky

Gutters don’t need a lot of maintenance. However, when they are clogged, water runs over the top and falls to the ground or the siding below. In winter, snow can melt and freeze in the gutters, causing even more problems. Sometimes, the frozen water can tear gutters away from the roof.

Usually, gutters should be cleaned twice a year—in the spring and the fall. Homeowners with pine trees close by may need to clean the gutters every few months to remove the pine needles.

Safety First

There are numerous gutter cleaning tools that help homeowners remain on the ground rather than climbing tall ladders. Homeowners that do need to climb a ladder should use an extension ladder and have someone stand at the base to keep the ladder stable. Never use a stepladder for cleaning gutters.

For homes that are more than one story, hiring a gutter-cleaning company to do the job is strongly recommended. These companies can safely clean all gutters. Fees will vary depending on location. Prices also vary based on how many feet of gutters a home has and whether the home is one, two, or three-stories.

Homeowners should always wear sturdy, protective gloves to protect hands from sharp debris and the sharp part of the gutters. Work boots with good traction will help prevent homeowners from losing their grip on the ladder while working. Eye protection is also necessary when using pressure washers so that flying debris doesn’t end up in their eyes.

Using a Wet/Dry Vacuum

Homeowners can purchase gutter cleaning kits that attach to their wet/dry vacuum. Kits have hoses and curved attachments to reach the gutters without making it necessary to climb ladders. After debris is removed, a simple flush with water from a garden hose will clear any remaining debris.

Using a Power Washer

If it has been a while since the gutters have been cleaned, a pressure washer might be helpful. Although messy, power washers can spray the mess away with a fine-spray nozzle. Usually, homeowners also need to rinse the roof and exterior walls since debris tends to fly everywhere.

Cleaning From a Ladder

To clean gutters by hand, homeowners should use a sturdy extension ladder, a bucket, work gloves, and a gutter scoop or garden trowel. Carefully remove the leaves and debris and place them in the bucket. Flush the gutters with water until the water runs clear. If the downspouts are clogged, a plumber’s snake can help break up the obstruction.

Cleaning Gutters from the Ground

To clean gutters from the ground, purchase a gutter-cleaning wand. Homeowners should choose a model that telescopes to reach the gutters when they are standing on the ground. The gutter wand attaches to the hose and has a curved end that goes into the gutter. The water pressure forces the debris out of the gutter or down the downspout. Consumers can purchase these gutter-cleaning wands for $30 to $100, depending on the quality and options that the consumer wants.

Tips For Preventing Debris from Accumulating

Inspecting and cleaning downspouts monthly can help prevent buildup. Water that is trapped at the downspout entry can overflow and run down the side of the house to the foundation and cracks of the home. Choose a set day each month and clean out the gutters where needed.

Homeowners can also prevent debris from building up by trimming trees and tall hedges away from the roof’s edge. Winds can blow loose branches and leaves into the gutters and clog them. If homeowners cannot remove the trees, they should at least prune them at least eight feet away from the roof.

Trees and shrubbery aren’t the only things that clog gutters. Loose shingles or roof material can fall into the system. Have the roof inspected and make repairs where needed. Anything that is not tied down on the property and is light enough to be picked up by birds or carried by the wind can end up in gutters. Homeowners should keep the yard clean and trash cans sealed tight to prevent these items from blowing into gutters.

Gutter covers or guards offer another potential solution for keeping debris out of gutters. There are many brands on the market, and while gutter guards don’t provide foolproof protection against all things that can clog gutters, they can reduce the frequency of gutter cleanings. Gutter guards should reduce the number of times homeowners need to clean their gutters. There are several kinds of guards, and homeowners should hire a professional to determine the best system for their homes.

Homeowners with consistent problems might want to consider having premium gutters installed. High-grade copper, zinc, aluminum, or steel gutters will maintain good rainwater flow and filter debris and leaves through the gutters and downspouts. Premium gutters may seem like an expensive way to fix a small problem but doing so can save more in the long run.

Keeping gutters clean is a necessary part of home maintenance. Homeowners can use these tips to do it themselves or hire a reputable company in the area to take care of the job.

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