How To Easily Clean Your Gutters: Our Expert Tips
Your gutters are clogged, but you aren’t really sure the best, least dangerous way to clean them.
If this sounds like you, you’re in the right place. At Thrasher Foundation Repair, we’re no strangers to the world of home drainage systems. With over four and a half decades of assisting homeowners, we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves when it comes to cleaning gutters.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of effectively and safely cleaning your gutters to keep your home in tip-top shape.
How to clean from a ladder
Climbing up a ladder might not be everyone's idea of a good time, but when it comes to keeping your gutters clean and water flowing smoothly, it's a task worth learning. Let's break down the essential steps.
1. Gather your materials
Before you start getting your hands dirty, make sure you have the following tools:
- Protective clothing – don’t dress to the nines for this one
- Safety goggles and gloves – so you don’t have to get your hands dirty.
- A sturdy ladder – emphasis on sturdy.
- Garden trowel or scoop – to scoop out the mess.
- Bucket or catch bag – kind of like a goodie bag or in this case, a bag of debris.
- Gutter cleaning brush or old scrub brush - to really get in there and clean.
- Hose with a spray nozzle – for the grand finale.
2. Safety 101
Safety should always be your top priority. Make sure your ladder is stable and positioned on a flat surface. Wear sturdy gloves to protect your hands and safety goggles if you don’t want loose particles in your eyes.
Before we dive any deeper, let’s talk ladder safety. Here are our best tips:
- Don’t climb above the second to last step – that’s your safety zone.
- Don’t overreach. That’s a big no-no in the ladder world.
- Use an extension ladder for two-story homes.
- Make your ladder even sturdier with a stabilizer.
And lastly, find a buddy. We strongly suggest having someone with you while you do this task in case you need help.
3. Clear large debris
Now that you know how to work a ladder, it’s time to put on your safety glasses and work gloves. To kick things off, it’s best to start cleaning near the downspout and work your way in small segments.
Start removing large debris, like leaves, twigs, and branches, from the gutters using your garden trowel or scoop. Place the collected debris into your bucket or bag for easy disposal. Don’t throw it all in your yard - your grass deserves better.
4. Use a gutter-cleaning brush
Once the large debris is cleared, use your gutter brush to wipe away grime, dirt, and smaller debris that might be stuck in the gutters. Work along the gutters, brushing away dirt toward the downspout. Check the downspout for any unwanted blockages and clean them out with the trowel or a plumber’s snake.
5. Flush with water
Time to test the waters, or in this case, the gutters. After removing most of the debris, use a hose with a spray nozzle to flush out remaining dirt and particles. Start at the end opposite of the downspout and work your way towards it.
6. Check downspouts and drains
Once the gutters are squeaky clean, make sure to check the downspouts and drains for clogs. If water isn’t flowing smoothly, use the hose to force water through and clear any obstructions. If you have a stubborn clog, a plumbing snake or a straightened wire hanger can help dislodge it.
7. Inspect and repair
While you’re up there, take the time to inspect your gutters for any damage. Look for loose or sagging sections, rust, or holes. Catching these issues early can prevent extensive damage down the line.
Can you clean gutters without a ladder?
If you’re not a fan of ladders, we don’t blame you. Trying to scoop wet leaves out of a gutter while balancing on a ladder kind of sounds like a recipe for disaster.
But we have good news. There are a few ways to clean your gutters without ever needing to step foot on a ladder. Let’s dive in.
1. Use a telescopic wand
Telescopic wands are extendable poles with a high-pressure nozzle attached at the end. All you have to do is attach it to your garden hose and blast the debris.
2. Use a gutter vacuum
With an attachment at the end of a long pole, gutter vacuums suck up debris while keeping your feet planted on the ground. They’re pretty easy to use and clean up debris really well.
3. Leaf blower
If you have a leaf blower lying around, you can use it for your gutters, too. All you have to do is attach a nozzle that points upward. This works best if the debris is dry and loose, so don’t try it after a heavy rain.
4. Gutter flusher hose attachment
This handy tool attaches to your garden hose and sends a powerful stream of water into the gutters, pushing debris out.
5. Hire a professional
When in doubt, let the pros handle it. If you live in a house with two stories or more, it’s probably more cost-effective (and time-saving) to hire a gutter cleaning company to get the job done.
Remember: be safe
Ladder or no ladder, safety is always a priority. These ladder-free hacks can make your gutter cleaning easier, but make sure to follow manufacturer instructions, wear protective gear, and take necessary precautions.
Other questions about gutters
We know a lot about gutters. A weird amount. So while we're here, we thought we'd answer our frequently asked questions when it comes to gutters.
Should you clean your gutters in early or late fall?
Figuring out the best time to clean your gutters depends on a few factors. The climate you live in, the types of trees around your property, and your home’s susceptibility to water damage.
If your goal is to clean your gutters just once (which is the case for most of us), then it's best to wait until later in the season, after the majority of the leaves have fallen.
How often should I clean my gutters?
For most homes, it's recommended to clean gutters at least twice a year – in late spring and late fall. However, if your property has many trees or experiences heavy storms, more frequent cleanings may be necessary.
How do I prevent clogs in my gutters?
If you want to know more about gutter guards and how they work, we wrote an entire blog on it.
Why is gutter cleaning necessary?
Gutter cleaning prevents clogs and blockages that can lead to water damage, mold growth, and compromised structural integrity of your home.
What happens if I don't clean my gutters?
Neglecting gutter cleaning can lead to water damage, rotting wood, foundation issues, mold growth, and even pest infestations. It can be costly to repair the resulting damage.
How can I maintain gutters between cleanings?
Regularly check gutters for debris buildup, especially after storms, and trim trees near your home to minimize falling leaves. Keep an eye on downspouts to ensure proper drainage.
You're a gutter-cleaning expert now
So there you have it. The ultimate guide to mastering the art of gutter cleaning. Remember, a well-maintained gutter system is your home's first line of defense against water damage and costly repairs. At the end of the day, your home deserves the best care and you've got the tools and insight to deliver just that.
But before you go, here's a little secret: If you're looking for an even more hands-off approach, don't forget about gutter guards. By installing these, you can significantly reduce the need to clean your gutters.
If you have questions about gutters, interested in gutter guards, or just want to chat, our team at Thrasher Foundation Repair is here to help. Contact us today by starting a chat in the bottom right corner, filling out this form, or calling us at 1-844-948-3306.