Fundamentals of Successful Gutter Cleaning

Let’s face it – cleaning the gutters is a chore. But gutter cleaning is an essential part of good home maintenance. Properly working gutters help protect your roof, siding, entry doors, and windows from weather damage. Most homeowners have their favourite tips and tricks. When cleaning the gutters this fall, here are the fundamentals of successful gutter cleaning that will work for everyone.

Follow safety protocols.

Safety should always come first. Prevent having an accident this fall when you’re cleaning your gutters. Ladder safety protocols include:

  • Place the ladder on even ground and make sure it’s stable before climbing it
  • Don’t be on the ladder when you don’t have an assistant or there’s no one home
  • Avoid using the ladder or working near power lines
  • Wear rubber-soled shoes
  • Don’t stand on the top two rungs
  • Pick a day to clean the gutters this is not too windy

Get the proper tools for you.

Many homeowners wouldn’t consider cleaning the gutters without the best gutter cleaning gadget on the market. There are gutter robots; attachments on poles that include cameras so you can see what’s going on from the ground; and various attachments intended to be used with a shop vacuum or a leaf blower. All of them are designed to make cleaning the gutters easy.

However, if you’re not a “techie” or you don’t want to add another tool you’ll only use periodically to your already growing collection, stick with the basics. These include:

  • A sturdy ladder for easy access to the gutters and the roof
  • Rake or broom to remove debris from the roof first
  • Protective gloves to safeguard against germs and scrapes
  • Gutter scoop for removing clumps of leaves, twigs, etc.
  • Goggles to prevent liquids and materials harming your eyes
  • Garbage bags to scoop the debris into (dumping it on the ground makes more work)
  • A garden hose with a pistol-grip trigger spray nozzle

Take the time to prepare.

Gather all of your tools, equipment, and cleaning supplies in one place before you start to clean the gutters.

Ensure the covers of outdoor outlets are closed properly. If covers are missing or haven’t been installed, protect them with plastic.

Use tarps to protect landscaping from runoff that might contain harmful detergents or chemicals.

Close and lock windows and doors to prevent water from being sprayed inside.

Clean the gutter system thoroughly.

 Scoop out the debris that has collected inside the gutters, putting it directly into a garbage bag. Once the debris has been removed, spray water into the gutter section to get rid of any sediment at the bottom of the channel.

To remove the grime that has accumulated on the outside of the gutters (the gutter face), clean with a cloth or soft brush and mild soapy water. Rinse thoroughly to get rid of soap film.

Run water through the downspouts to check if the downpipes are free of debris. If water just trickles from the downspout, look for the blockage. When you can’t see the clog by looking into the downpipe at the gutter outlet, look for it by tapping the downspout at the top, in the middle, and at the bottom of the pipe. When you hear a “thud” rather than a “ring” you’ve found the clog. Use a plumber’s snake to remove the debris from inside the downpipes.

Repair any damage you find.

While no one really likes to clean the gutters, it is a great opportunity to see what they are up to. After they are clean and shiny, you will be able to spot missing hardware, worn seams, rust spots, and holes or cracks. Repair any damage you find before winter comes – it will help your gutters protect your home during winter storms.

When the damage is extensive or is beyond your DIY skill set, don’t hesitate to call a gutter professional. A little expense now is better than having to deal with a gutter system emergency during the holidays.