Gutter Cleaning Guide for the Cleanest Gutters
Some people don’t realize that a full gutter is not a good thing. The point of a gutter is to streamline any excessive water, debris and dirt off your roof and away from your home.
This prevents mold and mildew growth and prevents roof damage.
If the gutter is clogged with too much of any of those things, then it is not working properly and either needs cleaning or repair to get the draining back to its normal rate. Too much debris can actually weight down your gutters to so much that they become detached from your rooftop completely.
The easiest thing to do before repairing or replacing your gutters is to clean them, either yourself or through a professional.
How Often Should I clean My Gutters?
You should clean your gutters at least twice a year, once in the spring and then again in the late fall, after the majority of the leaves have fallen but before the major rain occurs.
If you live in a dry climate area, then springtime cleaning may not be necessary, but a quick checkup of your gutters is never a bad idea.
If you live in extremely rainy climates, then cleaning your gutters twice in winter may be a safer bet.
How to Clean Your Gutters?
Gather all your tools and supplies. You’ll need waterproof gloves, a stable ladder, a bucket, a garden trowel or gutter scoop, a garden hose and a metal hanger, hook or plumber’s snake (closet auger style). It’s even better if you have a shop vac with a long hose that can go down into all your drainage pipes for a serious cleaning.
Choose a place to start cleaning.
The best location to start is the highest-most point of your gutter trail, because as you clean downward, your work will become quicker and easier as the debris dissipates and the drain begins working correctly.
Put on your waterproof gloves and set your ladder flat on the ground at the point you want to begin cleaning.
Wrap your garden hose (preferably with a controlled nozzle tip) around the top part of your ladder for security while you work.
Place your bucket and trowel next to the top of the ladder or, if you’re using an A-style ladder, on a level part of the roof near where you’re starting to clean.
Always clean your gutters while standing on the ladder.
Never try to clean your gutters from the rooftop, because the downward gravity will likely pull you downward, increasing your chances of falling.
If you’re uncomfortable carrying a bucket up a ladder, then you can bring a trash bag instead.
Stuff it in your pocket if you really want to go hands free.
If you don’t have any spare trash bags, then you can just remove the debris from the gutter and drop it freefall down to the ground. You’ll have to clean up the leaves and debris later with a rake or broom.
Begin by removing any large and visible twigs or debris manually and placing them in your bucket.
Then proceed to scoop up the other leaves and debris with your trowel. If you don’t have a gutter trowel or scoop and don’t want to spend the money on one, you can use a DIY version instead.
Large serving spoons are a decent substitute, and gallon milk jugs with a corner cut off work extremely well.
You can use your hands to remove the debris, but even with gloves on, you run the risk of cutting yourself on some form of debris.
A scooper nearly always works best.
Scoop as much of the debris out as you can with the scooper and your hands, placing it in the bucket or dropping it below as you go.
As the debris us removed, the water at the bottom should begin draining again.
To remove any addition dirt and debris, run your garden hose over the gutter carefully, guiding the debris downward toward the drain.
Be sure not to use a heavy spray setting, because you don’t want to add excess stress to the gutters and risk them breaking or collapsing.
As you move down your gutters, move the ladder and your cleaning station accordingly. It’s better to do this a lot than not enough, to avoid risky leaning and possibly tipping your ladder over.
Empty out your bucket into a trash bin whenever necessary to avoid spilling the debris on the roof.
Once you get to the gutter drain, make sure that water is draining through completely. If not, then you will need to use a wire hanger, hook or plumber’s snake to remove any debris.
A closet auger style plumber’s snake will work best, because the rounded hook is best for pulling items out without risking damage to the drain.
Remove as much debris with the snake as you can and then use the hose to drain out the rest.
If at any point in the process you find a leak in your gutters or some other structural issue, stop what you’re doing and consult a professional.
This will prevent any unnecessary additional damage to the gutters.
A professional can tell you what your next steps should be.
How Much Does Gutter Cleaning Cost?
Cleaning your gutters doesn’t require any special cleaning liquid or detergent, so the cost of doing it yourself is never more than the few dollars it costs for supplies and your time.
If you are paying a professional to clean your gutters, then never pay more than $150, unless you have an abnormally large house, excessively tricky gutter railings or several procedural requests due to things like a steep roof pitch or cedar or slate shingles.
If you live in an average-sized single-story home, then you shouldn’t have to pay more than $50 to $100.
Hiring a professional to clean your gutters is not necessary, but if the time and effort is worth it for you, then it may be a good idea.
Just let the person know if you have any precious plants or below-gutter fixtures that you care about deeply, so that they can be aware of this and avoid dirtying it up or ruining it altogether.
A good instance to hire a professional, in most all cases, is if you have a home higher than one story.
The added height and dimensions involved in a multiple-story home can provide extreme safety challenges for the average homeowner cleaning themselves, so it’s safest to consult a professional in those cases.