Ah, the sweet smell of Autumn leaves. It’s a fall favorite many homeowners look forward to, until it’s time for that semi-annual gutter cleaning. But here’s the good news: Cleaning your gutters helps prevent all sorts of unfortunate issues! So let’s dig in (pun intended) with these gutter cleaning tips to make the task a little easier.
Ladders and goggles and gloves, oh my! Here are some ways to make your cleaning project easier and safer.
- Ladders: First, make sure someone else knows you’ll be up a ladder, and be sure to inspect your ladder for any defects or loose parts before climbing up. Many people opt for an aluminum ladder as a strong but light option. If you’re using one long extension ladder leaning against the roof, you may also want to invest in a ladder stabilizer, or stand-off, to prevent denting or damage to your gutters. Regardless of the ladder type, make sure it sits on sturdy ground (i.e. avoid loose flagstones that can wobble, etc.).
- Safety Glasses: This may come as a surprise, but when you’re flushing things out of a downspout, all manner of things (and creatures) can come flying out! Wearing safety glasses helps you avoid the possibility of sudden eye injuries.
- Gloves: Aside from the obvious chill of digging through muck, you want thick working gloves for several reasons. For one, that muck could include all manner of bird and squirrel excrement, which you really don’t want on your skin. It can also contain sharp objects like sticks and thorns, and depending on the general repair of your gutters, there may be sharp or rusty metal edges to avoid.
You’ll want to bring a few things with you on your way up.
- Rubber-Bottomed Shoes: Grip is your friend when you’re off the ground, and rubber delivers the best grip. Also note that rooftops tend to be damp (aka, slippery) in the mornings, so if you need to get on the roof for any reason, the best time to do so is late morning or early afternoon, when the sun has dried up the dew. Watch out for any growing moss as well, which can be a slip hazard!
- A Spatula: Yes, you read that right. A plastic spatula works well in a pinch to scrape the gunk out of those gutters. You can also invest in a gutter scoop if you choose (available at your local hardware store). Just make sure your tool is made of plastic, as metal can cause damage to your gutters, leading to faster rusting and the need for gutter repair or gutter replacement.
- A Hose with a Pistol-Grip Trigger Spray Nozzle: This comes in handy for a couple of reasons. One, when you’re not using it, you can hang it right off the gutter for easy access. Two, there are times when having a little pressure behind the spray can help with the cleaning, and in some cases, unclogging downspouts. This nozzle is also available at your local hardware store.
Step By Step
Now that you know what you’ll need and how to clean your gutters safely—let’s get going!
- Spray down the roof. It’s kind of pointless to clean your gutters if the next windy day will just push a bunch of stuff off your roof and back into the gutters you just cleaned. This also helps to prevent stuff from getting stuck in the shingles, which can lead to ice damming and roof damage in the winter.
- Scoop out the leaves and residual muck. Depending on your level of landscaping, you may want to put down a tarp or drop cloth to catch what you pull out, or have a bucket handy if you prefer.
- Flush out the gutters and downspouts with your hose. This should take care of any remaining debris, and show if you have any leaks to worry about. If the water bubbles back up, you may have to temporarily disassemble your downspout to get out a clog. A plumbing snake can be handy for this!
- Check for sagging metal. Now that the gutters are clean, this is a good time to make any necessary repairs to your gutters before winter hits. You may choose to DIY these repairs, or you can hire a professional.
Whew! We made it, and the gutters are clean! You’ll want to follow these tips at least once per year; more often if you have a lot of trees hanging over your roof. Speaking of which, did you know that America’s Preferred Home Warranty offers roof coverage for failures due to normal wear and tear? Call 888.351.3681 or visit APHW.COM today for more information.