One of the most important spring home maintenance tasks you will be doing this season is cleaning the gutters. Gutter cleaning at this time of year helps to erase all traces of winter and gets the gutter system ready for summer. Maintaining the gutters on a regular basis can help extend the lifespan of the gutters and keep them working year-round. Here is a brief guide on how to clean your own gutters safely.
Before Cleaning the Gutters
Before you begin, gather the tools and cleaning materials you will require to clean the gutters. It will save you time and also give you an idea of what you might have to purchase. You will need the following:
- Waterproof gloves – make sure they are thick and can’t be easily punctured
- Safety glasses
- Ladder – step ladder for a one storey house; a straight/extension ladder for one that’s two or more storeys
- Pressure washer – use on a low setting for aluminum gutters and older gutter systems
- Garden hose
- Gutter scoop, rake, and pole extensions that allow you to use the rake at a further distance without having to move the ladder
- Trash bags – using a pail doubles the work when you have to empty it
- Ladder stabilizer – especially if you have aluminum gutters, it will help prevent denting
Take the time to do prep work such as laying down a tarp to protect landscape from cleaning solutions and falling debris.
Use Basic Ladder Safety Protocols
Best practices of ladder safety include:
- Place the ladder on a stable surface
- Have a helper
- Shoes should have non-slip soles
- Climb the ladder by putting the middle of the foot on the rung
- When standing, both feet should be placed slightly apart
- Don’t overreach – climb down and then move the ladder along the gutter run
- Always have two feet and one hand on the ladder when cleaning the gutters
- Always have one foot and two hands on the ladder when climbing
Cleaning the Gutters
To reduce the number of trips up and down the ladder, load it up with a bucket for tools, trash bag for debris, garden hose, and cleaning cloths/rags.
Remove the initial layer of debris from the gutters with gloved hands and the gutter rake (brings the debris toward you). Use the scoop to dump the debris into the trash bag.
Once all the leaves and other types of debris have been removed, use a pressure washer to get rid of residue, mold and grease the gutter channel.
When the gutters have been cleared, place a garden hose in the gutter channel. Let water run through the gutter system while you are standing beneath the gutters. Check for leaking seams along the gutter run.
Clean the Downspouts
Pay attention to the downspouts. First position the garden hose at the gutter outlet and allow water to flow through each downspout (if you have more than one). When the water freely flows out of the downpipes, they are free of clogs. However, if the water exits the downspouts in a trickle, there is probably a blockage. If the clog cannot be dislodged by flushing the downspouts with water, you will most likely need to use a plumber’s snake to clear it away.