Gutters that are clogged can’t do the job they are designed for – protecting your home from serious water damage. It’s important for the gutter system to be debris-free. To ensure that they are working properly and will continue to do so throughout the winter, fall is the ideal time to clean them. The most efficient way to clean the gutters is be prepared and plan ahead.
Start with the Roof
If trees are growing in close proximity to the house, most likely the roof is covered in leafs and debris. Eventually it will end up in the gutters. Clean the roof before you clean the gutters. It doesn’t have to be done in the same day or even week, but at the most two weeks prior to gutter cleaning.
Hire a roofing contractor to clean the roof when:
- The house is two or more storeys
- The roof’s configuration is complex
- The house is surrounded by a combination of trees (pines, maples, and fruit)
- It’s older than 15 years or you suspect it’s not in great shape
- The roofing company offers specials that include cleaning the gutters=
Climbing the Ladder
Be safe. Before climbing the ladder, ensure it is in good shape – all the hardware is working properly; no loose or missing rungs; and it’s not warped or sticks when opened/closed (wood ladder) or rusted (metal ladder). Use the ladder according to the manufacturer’s instructions and know the recommended weight capacity, especially if you will be standing on it for any length of time.
Dress to be Safe
Part of your safety protocol should include the way you dress to clean the gutters. Wear thick work gloves to protect your hands and rubber-soled shoes with closed toes (of course) to protect your feet. Long pants and a long-sleeved shirt are betters choices than shorts and short sleeves. Use safety goggles to protect your eyes.
When Using Gadgets
When using gutter gadgets for fall home maintenance, check to see that they are in good working order – no frayed cords, fresh batteries, motor runs smoothly.
When Using Gutter Tools
If you are cleaning the gutters by hand, it will be more efficient if you gather all of your supplies such as a gutter scoop, work gloves, and garbage bags together in one place before you begin gutter cleaning. As you remove leaves, twigs and miscellaneous junk, you will have to move the ladder along the gutter run. Getting everything you need in advance will reduce the number of times you’ll have climb the ladder.
Consider Your Landscaping
Even when you use environmentally-friendly cleaning solutions, plants, shrubs, and trees generally tend to remain healthier if they are not subjected to chemicals. Use tarps to protect any part of your landscaping near to the house that might come into direct contact to runoff containing chemicals of any kind.
Check the Downspouts
It’s easy sometimes to forget that the downspouts require cleaning too. Check the downpipes for:
- Blockages – they typically occur at the gutter outlet, in the middle of the downpipes, and at the elbow where rainwater exits the gutter system
- Dents – dents can reduce the capacity of the downspouts, potentially resulting in overflowing gutters
- Loose hardware – when hardware doesn’t keep the downpipes firmly in place, they can leak or become clogged
Timing is Everything
Plan on cleaning the gutters at least three days after a recent rainfall to allow the debris to dry out.
Avoid days that will be windy or if it’s raining: check the 3-day weather forecast to help you plan ahead.
To get the most out of your fall maintenance gutter cleaning, pick a day after the majority of the leaves around your house have fallen.