Regular gutter cleaning is key to maintaining any home or business. Neglected gutters allow rainwater to back up and can lead to thousands of dollars in property damage. Appropriate preparation can reduce the time spent on this task, prevent unnecessary damage to buildings and, most importantly, prevent injuries. Instituting the guidelines below will help ensure a smooth, safe, correctly completed job.
Gather your equipment
- Before you begin, let someone know you’ll be working with a ladder and have them check on you periodically. While unlikely anything will happen to you, there is always a chance of an accident.
- A sturdy ladder with a shelf that can hold a large (tethered) bucket for clearing debris. Fiberglass and metal ladders are generally more stable than wooden ones, however, fiberglass ladders can be heavy, so keep that in mind if you’ll be moving it around a lot.
- A hose with an adjustable pistol-grip spray attachment. Cleaning gutters with a hose attachment is one of the surest ways to get the job done faster because you can control the force of the water pressure and drag the hose with you as you work.
- A plastic gutter scoop. These are available at any hardware store and are the best method for clearing debris. Avoid metal scoops that can damage and scratch the bottom of your gutters and eventually lead to rust.
- Make a note of power lines. Lines connecting from pole to the roof can be dangerous if worn or damaged. If a line looks questionable, have a professional inspect and repair before you begin cleaning the gutters.
- Safety gear. Goggles are a must when dealing with flying debris. Likewise, the right gloves for the job will protect you from cuts, bacteria, and waterlogged hands. Cotton soaks through quickly, leather is often too stiff, and sticks and metal easily pierce rubber gloves. Thick suede gloves are best for this job.
- Finally, if you’ll be walking on the roof, get some rubber-soled shoes.
Getting it done
- Clean the roof. Using a rake or power washer, clear the roof of existing debris, or the next rain will push it all back into your clean gutters. Note: If you are walking on the roof, wait until the afternoon when moisture has dried up, making it less slippery.
- Clean your downspouts after cleaning the gutters by running a full pressure stream of water through them. If the water backs up, tap the sides of the downspout. If that doesn’t do the trick, remove the downspout, and clear it from the bottom. Note: If connected to an underground drain, disconnect the downspout before cleaning to avoid pushing the clog into the drain.
- Consider investing in gutter guards. Well made gutter guards can eliminate a lot of the work of gutter cleaning by keeping out leaves and debris. Research carefully and read plenty of reviews before purchasing.
- Schedule next season’s cleaning. Twice yearly gutter cleaning, in spring and fall, is one of the best ways to prevent the water damage and rusted gutters that lead to expensive repairs.