How to clean gutters and downspouts safely
Regular gutter cleaning can help you avoid expensive repairs to your home and yard. Learn ways to clean gutters safely.
Cleaning your gutters is an important task to help avoid expensive damage to your home and yard. Consider cleaning them at least twice a year during spring and fall. And depending on the kind of trees that surround your property, you might need to do it more often. If unclogging your gutters doesn't get them in working condition, you may need to replace them.
Clogged gutters can cause:
- Detachment - The weight of several seasons' debris can pull gutters away from your house, which can damage the roof and fascia.
- Water damage - An obstructed water path can cause water to leak into the roof or overflow down to the foundation. This moisture can cause mold growth and rot, which can affect your home's structural integrity, as well as your family's health.
- Landscaping issues - Overflowing gutters may cause some landscaping features to wash away.
Gutter cleaning safety tips
- Call for help - If your home is tall or you're uncomfortable on a ladder, consider hiring a gutter-cleaning professional.
- Use a tall ladder - Pick one that extends three feet over the gutter. Secure the ladder on even ground, preferably on pavement.
- Wear protective gear - A long-sleeve shirt and work gloves can help keep your arms and hands safe from sharp objects.
- Remove the clog - Scoop large debris with a small shovel or garden trowel and drop them into a bucket hanging from your ladder or onto a tarp on the ground.
- Flush it out - Once you're done clearing debris, use a garden hose to rinse out the gutters. This is also a great way to check for leaks.
How to clean gutters from the ground
Looking for an alternative to climbing a ladder? Consider cleaning your gutters from the ground using a u-shaped gutter cleaning attachment. Here are some additional tools that might help you complete the job:
- Garden hose - Connect the attachment to the hose and make sure the other end of the attachment is over the gutters. Turn on the water and adjust the pressure as needed. Begin at one end of a gutter going towards a downspout. When getting closer to the downspout, allow for water to drain.
- Power washer - This tool may function in the same way as a water hose and might have more power to remove debris and clogs in the gutters and downspouts. Be aware of the amount of pressure you decide to use, so your gutters are not damaged in the process.
- Leaf blower - This tool may be helpful when it hasn’t rained in a while and the debris and leaves in the gutters are dry. Using a gutter attachment for leaf blowers, position it over the gutters and walk around so debris can be blown out.
If you decide to clean your gutters from the ground, always keep your safety in mind. Wearing safety glasses can help protect your eyes from debris and leaves that may fall in your direction. Wearing shoes with rubber soles can be helpful for slippery surfaces when using a garden hose or power washer.
For more home maintenance tips, review our collection of maintenance articles.