Best Way to Clean Gutters
Cleaning the gutters is no one’s favorite chore, but it is more than just a way to keep your home looking tidy. Gutters are designed to keep water away from your home’s foundation, so it’s important that they function properly. You can give yourself a pat on the back each time you clean your gutters because it’s one of those necessary chores to keep your home maintained and preserved.
Depending on the tools you have and whether you prefer to do the project from the ground or from a ladder, there are several effective ways to remove gutter debris. We have some tips for each method of keeping your gutters clean.
When to Clean Your Gutters
Gutter cleaning is normally a once-a-year project best done in the fall after the leaves are off the trees and before the snow starts to fly. However, it pays to keep an eye on your gutters and notice whether your home requires more regular gutter clean-outs. Check them periodically to see if they need some extra attention in the spring before big rains start, and after any storm that throws a little extra debris at the roof. Also, if your home is surrounded by trees that add maple seeds, pine needles, and other debris to the mix, you may need to clean a little more often.
More Reasons to Clean Your Gutters
Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause big headaches, and can even sag and pull loose if they are weighed down with debris. They also give mosquitoes a place to breed and can cause stormwater to back up and penetrate the building envelope. Making sure you have clean gutters before winter will help prevent iced dams and stress on your roof.
How to Clean Gutters without a Ladder
Many people prefer to clean the gutters while standing firmly on the ground, which is definitely one of the safest methods. You’ll need a hose or a wet/dry vacuum with a special attachment, along with a willingness to get a little wet and dirty. These methods tend to work best on single-story homes that don’t have high rooflines.
Cleaning Gutters with a Garden Hose Attachment
Hardware and home improvement stores offer garden hose attachments that look like a rigid tube with a curved end. You can also get extensions for your hose attachment to enable you to complete the job from the ground. The best way to clean your gutters with a garden hose attachment is to start near the downspout and then work your way back along the gutter.
Cleaning Gutters with a Shop Vac Attachment
If you have a shop vac, you can purchase a gutter cleaning attachment to vacuum the leaves and debris out of the gutter, or even create a DIY hose attachment. Once you’ve removed all the debris you can, follow up with a spray of the garden hose.
How to Clean Your Gutters Using a Ladder
If you are willing and able to climb a ladder, you have a few other options to get up close and deal with gutter maintenance, depending on the tools you have available – a pressure washer, a leaf blower, or your own two hands.
Whatever method you choose, you’ll be safer on an extension ladder than on a step ladder. Use stabilizer arms for the ladder to preserve your roof, siding, and gutters, and make sure the ladder is placed in a stable location. It’s best to have someone else hold the ladder for you and pass you a bucket or other items up the ladder as you need them.
Cleaning Gutters by Hand
Cleaning gutters by hand is the most time-consuming way to clean gutters, but it doesn’t require any fancy equipment. If you decide to use this method, wear a good pair of work gloves and use a plastic trowel, a child’s plastic sand shovel, or a special gutter cleaning trowel. It’s easiest if you start from one end and scoop the debris into a bucket as you go. If you don’t want to mess with a bucket, another option is to lay a tarp on the ground to catch the debris you scoop from the gutter.
Clean Your Gutters with a High-Powered Pressure Washer
Using a power washer with a fine spray nozzle is another method to clean gutters. In fact, this might be the most effective method to remove gutter debris. It’s also one of the messiest, so be prepared to rinse your house after you finish with the gutter.
If you’re reluctant to use a ladder, you may still be able to use your pressure washer for your gutter task. You’ll just need to purchase a telescoping wand and a gutter cleaning wand to extend your reach from the ground.
Clean Gutters with a Leaf Blower
Even a power blower will work to clean your gutters if you have one. First, block the downspout, and then work from one end of the channel to the other, blowing debris away from the house as best you can. You may need to clean out heavy, mucky debris by hand. When you’re finished, unblock the downspout and rinse the gutter with your hose.
Preventing Clogged Gutters
You may be able to reduce the need to clean your gutters quite as often by employing a few strategies to keep leaves out of your gutters and downspouts in the first place. Trim nearby trees to keep branches away from your roof. Also, consider whether a rain gutter guard makes sense for your home. A gutter guard is a shield over the gutter that allows rain through but prevents leaves from entering the gutter and blocking downspouts.
When It’s Time to Call the Gutter Cleaning Pros
In some cases, cleaning gutters can become more than a simple homeowner DIY project. Homes that are two stories or more can present a daunting safety hazard. If you don’t have the tools or a tall enough ladder, if you have concerns about your safety, or if you have a fear of heights, it may be best to call a professional.
Most window cleaners also clean gutters. So if you know a good window cleaner it is best to start with them. If you’d like to be done with this dirty (or costly) chore once and for all, request a quote for gutter guard installation in West Michigan from Melvin Belk Roofing. Choose from premium aluminum screen, stainless steel mesh, or micro mesh gutter guards, and say goodbye to this not-so-fun chore!