Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How to Clean Your Gutters Safely & Easily

The gutters on a house should be cleaned twice a year. It will depend somewhat on how close you are to trees and other falling debris. If you ever see the rain pours off your house in sheets rather than traveling the gutters and down the downspout, you know it is definitely time to get them cleaned.

Keeping your gutters clean will not only prevent waterfalls from occurring where you don't want them :), but will also prevent potential damage to the structure of your home in rotted wood and leaks.

The easiest way to clean the gutters is to call a professional! This generally costs approximately $100 so if you are a do-it-yourself kind of person, save yourself some money and follow these steps.
 PLAN HOW BEST TO REACH YOUR GUTTERS - To clean gutters you will want to either use a ladder or stand on your roof, whichever is safest and makes reaching your gutters easiest.

When using a ladder, choose a ladder that is strong, sturdy and will reach high enough for you to clean gutters without leaning. Before resting a ladder against a gutter, place a 2 x 4 block in the gutter to prevent the pressure of the ladder from denting the gutter.

LADDER SAFETY TIPS: Make sure the ladder is placed at the proper angle which is usually indicated in a picture on the side of the ladder. It should not be too steep or too slopped. Always keep your body center between the outside rails of the ladder. Never lean out and away from the ladder. Never stand on the top two rungs of the ladder. When possible, have someone stand at the base of the ladder and hold it in place.


This is easiest to do when the debris is neither too wet or too dry. Working from one end using a garden trowel or your hands, scoop the debris from the gutter. When possible place directly into a garbage bag to prevent additional clean up.

ALTERNATIVE METHOD: Use a leaf blower to the blow the leaves from the gutters. Be sure and wear protective goggles and a dust mask when cleaning gutters this way.

Using a garden hose with an adjustable nozzle wash the gutters cleaning in the direction of the downspout. It is not necessary to use a lot of water pressure and too much pressure can damage the spout. Also be careful not to splash muddy water over your siding or you will have another clean up job when you are done. Use a scrub brush to remove any debris that has become stuck on the gutter.

Lastly, make sure the downspout are free of debris. Force water down the downspout using your hose. If there is a blockage, use a plumber' s snake, a straightened hanger or some other long tool that will enable you to reach the debris. Sometimes you can just loosen it enough to dislodge it and then flush it out with the hose.

A WORD ABOUT GUTTER GUARDS: Gutter guards do not always prevent debris from being trapped inside the gutter. When you purchase gutter guards, make sure they can be removed for cleaning gutters when necessary.

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