Cleaning out your rain gutters can be a tedious chore, but it’s a necessary one because of the importance of keeping them free of debris to protect your home. Dirty gutters and downspouts can lead to flooding and water damage to your house, foundation and walls – so you should clean them at least every spring and fall, and more often if you live in a stormy region or under a lot of tree cover.
Unless you’re not comfortable on top of a ladder and would prefer to hire someone, here are ten easy steps to keep your gutters clean and redirect all rain flow away from your home.
You never know what bacteria or hazards are lurking in your gutters, so be sure to protect yourself. Wear thick gloves, safety goggles and a dust mask.
Use a stepladder for safety if you can and position yourself by a downspout. If your home is tall enough to require an extension ladder, place a 2×4 in the section of gutter you’re working on to protect it. It’s helpful to have a bucket or garbage bag with you to collect debris, or place a drop cloth under your working area for easier cleanup.
Using a trowel or plastic scoop (never your hands), begin shoveling debris into your refuse container and work your way down the gutter.
There may be finer materials left behind, or particularly sticky gunk, so flush your gutter from the farthest end with a pressurized hose. Try to avoid splattering the side of your house. If you notice some spots aren’t floating away, scrub them with a stiff brush before flushing the gutter again. If the water is backing up at the downspout, you may have a clog.
To start cleaning your downspout, you’ll want to detach the pipe if it runs underground to prevent pushing the clog further.
Use one of two methods. Start by trying to loosen the blockage by running a pressurized hose up the downspout with the water on. If that doesn’t work, use a plumber’s snake to remove it.
Make sure to do so securely to prevent leaks.
From the top of the gutter, run water through the downspout to clean it out and ensure the clog is removed.
If you have them, now is the time to clean the strainers to your downspout to prevent future clogs. If you do not, consider installing them. They’ll help to keep large debris from blocking the pipe.
While you are rinsing your gutters, check the water flow. If you notice standing water or that it’s not draining quickly, the slope may be off. The gutter should drop ¼ inches every 10 ft. If you don’t see any visible damage or missing parts, work section by section and detach the hangers, adjust the slope to drain properly, then reattach. Be sure to look for leaks as well as with each storm that passes. Gutters can also rust. If you notice paint chipping or leaks through the metal, replace the faulty section with a new one.