Cleaning and clearing your eavestroughs and gutters is an important part of regular home maintenance. It’s not a difficult task, but there are some things you should be aware of so that you don’t cause any damage. And there are some safety issues to consider.
In this article, we’ll give you a step-by-step approach for how to clear your eavestroughs and gutters safely and effectively like a professional gutter cleaning contractor. It’s never too early to get ready for fall!
Why clear your gutters?
But first, why should you bother to clear your gutters or eavestroughs at all?
Your gutters play an important role in preventing water damage to your house. They ensure that rainwater doesn’t go anywhere it’s not supposed to.
If your gutters aren’t working properly or are filled with dirt and debris, the water will not be carried away properly. This can cause water damage to your windows, doors, walls, and even the building’s foundation. Gutters also help prevent basement flooding.
It’s much easier and cheaper to clean and clear your gutters regularly than it is to fix your home after water damage. So clear your gutters regularly.
How often should you clear your gutters?
Your gutters and eavestroughs should be cleared when they are blocked. Ideally, you should check them at least twice a year.
You should make a special point to check on them in the fall when they are most likely to get filled up with leaves and debris from trees. The spring is another great time to make sure they’re are clear.
Check them more often than that if you have lots of trees near your house.
If you have any of the following, it’s time for a clean and clear:
- Sagging gutters
- Water spilling over the sides of your gutters
- Staining on exterior walls of house
- Plant growth
- Birds nesting in them
If you need to clear your gutters and eavestroughs, follow these steps.
Step 1: Stay safe
Clearing your gutters can actually be really dangerous.
Ladder-related injuries in the US are estimated to reach 500,000 a year, and virtually all of these occur at homes or farms. About 300 are fatal. Make sure you’re not in those statistics by staying safe.
One of the safest ways to get your gutters cleaned is by hiring a professional.
But if you’re intent on doing it yourself, you can stay safe by doing the following:
- Never clear gutters from the roof. This increases chances of falling. Instead, clear them from a ladder.
- Follow good ladder safety practices. Place it on a steady, even base; double-check that locks are secured; set up away from doors that can open; always maintain three points of contact to the ladder; and never use the top rung as a step. Consider using a spotter.
- Don’t reach out too far. It can be tempting to reduce the amount that you move the ladder by trying to reach a little further. Don’t take the risk.
Step 2: Remove debris
The next step is to remove the debris. The best equipment for this is actually just your hand. While there is some fancy equipment you can invest in, your hand is just as effective and you’ll be less likely to damage your gutters.
Start at the downspout, and move up the gutter.
To remove the debris effectively, remember to:
- Wear gloves
- Put a tarp down so that the debris doesn’t get all over your lawn or property
- Wait until it’s a dry day to remove the debris (it will be messier if it’s wet out)
You can also use the following equipment if you prefer:
- A small garden trowel
- An industrial vacuum
Step 3: Downspouts
These also need to be cleared to avoid damage.
You can clear debris from inside the downspout by using a metal plumber’s snake:
- Insert the snake until you can feel that it has met some resistance.
- Then work the snake back and forth so that you loosen the clog.
- Next, put a garden hose into the top of the downspout and use the water to flush the debris.
- Repeat until the downspout is clear.
Step 4: Clean the gutters
Now that your gutters and downspouts are clear of debris, consider cleaning them. You can do this with some elbow grease, a cloth, and soapy water. Or, you can use a power washer on a low level.
To get your gutters sparking, remember to wash all parts, including the soffits, fascia boards, and downpipes.
Cleaning your eavestroughs and gutters is not a glamorous job: it’s usually an unpleasant, wet, and dirty job. But it’s important for preventing water damage in keeping your home in great shape.
Remember: You should only tackle your own gutters if you feel confident doing so. If you don’t there are lots of qualified gutter cleaning companies you can contract instead. Just make sure the company you choose has the right insurance and coverage.
Shonah Mhene is the Director of Sales and Operations at Clean Home Break Services based in Richmond, BC, Canada.