Tips for Cleaning Gutters on Your Home
Gutter cleaning is one of those home or commercial building maintenance chores most people hate to do — but it can't be ignored. Clogs of leaves, dirt, bird nests and other debris will eventually block the water running through the gutter and cause it to overflow, leading to roof leaks and structural damage. Cleaning gutters twice a year — typically in late spring and early fall — will keep them clear and prevent water from backing up.
Professional gutter cleaning services are available, although you can save money by handling the task yourself. If you choose the latter option, the following useful gutter cleaning tips can make the job easier and safer.
Remove leaves and other debris from the roof before cleaning the gutters. Otherwise, the next rain will wash it into the gutters and begin to clog them again. Debris left on the roof can also create water dams that damage HVAC units or lead to roof leaks. Use a rake or power washer to complete the task.
You'll need a ladder to reach the roof and stand on as you clean out the gutter. Choose a safe, sturdy ladder, preferably one made of fiberglass or aluminum and not wood. The ladder should contain a shelf to hold a bucket for collecting debris.
A four-legged ladder works well for a one-story building, while a longer extension ladder is a better choice when working on taller structures. Make sure the ladder is well-footed and isn't close to any electrical power lines.
The Right Tools
When cleaning gutters, common tools of the trade include a gutter scoop for removing large clogs and a garden hose equipped with a pistol-grip spray nozzle for flushing out the residual debris with water. Begin the flushing process at the end of the gutter that's opposite from the downspout. You'll also need to spray water down the spout to clean it.
What to Wear
Always wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when cleaning gutters. Hand protection is essential when handling gutter debris such as animal droppings and minimizes the risk of cuts. Gloves made of thick suede provide better protection than those consisting of materials such as rubber, cotton or leather.
Check for signs of gutter damage such as deterioration, cracks and leaks as you clean them. If you discover an unsealed seam, mark the spot so you can repair it later. To fix the problem, chisel away the old silicone and apply new sealant. Also, make sure the gutter and downspouts are attached firmly to the structure.
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