There are more glamorous tasks out there, but cleaning your gutters is a job that has to be done. There are plenty of way of getting the job done, but while you are at it, it is worth remembering that your downspouts can also do with a good clean every now and then as well. Here is a simple step by step guide to making sure that you are not neglecting this part of the job.
First things first: you are going to need a ladder for this job, and a stepladder is really what you should be going for. A power drill with a screwdriver attachment is also useful, and this will make your life far easier than if you are to rely on a manual screwdriver. If at all possible, go for a battery powered drill rather than a corded one. The last thing you want to be thinking about when you are up a ladder is whether you are getting yourself tangled in an electric wire.
A pair of tough gloves is a good investment to make for this job as well. Rubber gloves are not the best choice, so ideally choose a pair of gardening gloves or something of that sort. Overalls are useful, but when at the top of a ladder you will want maximum flexibility – so if you don’t have a scruffy pair of old jeans and t-shirt in a cupboard for this sort of job, that is definitely something worth putting aside for next time.
The downspout is the fixture between your open roof gutter and the pipe that takes rainwater to the ground. It is generally more practical to do the rest of your gutter cleaning first and save this little task until last. In order to clean it properly, you are going to need to unscrew this and remove it. It is wise to take off the top screws first, and to store them carefully. Do not force it – if you find that you have the wrong size screwdriver head on your power drill, stop and change it. These screws are exposed to the elements, making them even more susceptible to shearing than usual (and plumbing screws often are not the best quality).
Once you have taken the screws out and put them in a pocket or somewhere sensible, remove the angled downspout carefully. It might sound obvious to read on the screen, but when you are up a stepladder it is all too easy to yank this off without paying attention to the fact that it may well be full of gunk and fetid water. Having carefully removed the downspout, descend the ladder to clean. Again, this is not the time to save a few moments balancing on the top of a ladder while trying to get your gutter cleaning done that bit quicker. Down you come.
Any old implement should do the trick for pushing out any gunk that is in there, but it is also worth giving your downspout a good wash through while you have the chance. Leaving the inside clean as opposed to just clear of debris will ensure that it takes longer for build up to occur, so you won’t need to clean it as often. A little extra time spent here will save you time in the long run.
Having cleaned the downspout thoroughly, You can then reattach with care. Make sure as you do that the screws are in tightly, and that you have fitted it in snugly, just as it was before you took it down and with no room to move about.
One thing you may notice if the gutter you are cleaning is an old one is that some of the screws may be sheared to a greater or lesser degree. Sheared screws are worth replacing: they will be far more difficult to remove next time, and shearing is a sign of poor quality to begin with.
If you do have screws that need replacing, do avoid the temptation to use a different size or style of screw in their place. If you need to take a short trip to the DIY shop to ensure that you are replacing like with like, so be it. At the very least, make sure that the width and, within reason, the depth of your replacement screws is the same as the ones you are replacing. Screws that are too large could split your plastic, while undersized ones may well not do their job properly.
One final step is to make sure that you’ve done the job properly by pouring some water down it. Watch out for leaks, and where you find one, unscrew and reattach the downspout. This is also the time to check that your water flow is uninhibited by any blockages. Once again taking the care will save you time (and frustration!) in the long run.