Keeping your gutters free of debris helps protect your home’s siding, foundation and nearby landscaping from potential water damage. Here’s how to clean your gutters so they continue to properly direct water away from your home.
Gather Some Tools and Equipment
The tools and equipment required to clean gutters aren’t specialized. You likely already have everything you need for the job. Gather together:
- a long-sleeve shirt
- rubber gloves
- an extendable ladder
- a plastic scoop or small sand shovel
- a tarp
- a garden hose
A long-sleeve shirt and rubber gloves will protect you from the branches, rotten leaves and water sitting in your gutters.
The extendable ladder you use must be able to at least reach your home’s roof. Ideally, it’ll have ladder “horns” to prevent it from resting against the gutters and potentially damaging them. These aren’t absolutely necessary, though. If you don’t have ladder horns, just be careful when placing the ladder against your gutters.
Specialized gutter scoops can be found at your local hardware store, but these are unnecessary. If you don’t want to buy a scoop you’ll use for just this task, grab a kid’s sand shovel. It should work just as well.
A tarp also isn’t absolutely required. Throwing debris onto a tarp instead of the yard, however, will make cleanup easier.
Clean Your Gutters of Debris
To clean your gutters, don the rubber gloves and climb up your ladder. Then:
- Reach into the gutters and remove any debris you see.
- Throw the debris down on the tarp.
- Move your ladder as needed to reach the rest of your gutters.
Once all the debris has been removed from your gutters and taken to the curb (or a garbage can), climb back up your ladder with the garden hose. Flush out each gutter to wash away any small debris that remains.
Check the Downspouts for Clogs
To check the downspouts, leave the hose on and in a gutter. Come down the ladder and check to see whether water is coming out the appropriate downspout at the same rate that it’s leaving your hose.
- If the flow is the same, the downspout is clear.
- If the flow is reduced, there’s a clog.
One way to attack that clog is to feed the hose down the downspout to break the clog up with water pressure and physical pressure. If the clog is stubborn, you may need something more rigid to push with. Or you might need to remove part of the downspout to better reach the clog. Take care with stubborn clogs so that you don’t break or bend your downspout.
After all gutters have been cleaned and downspouts checked, your home’s gutters will be ready for the next precipitation that comes.
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