Every home owner likes the sight of a well-cleaned house exterior. When it comes to the appearance of a home building, even the small details are important and add up to the whole view. This includes the gutters too. They are often neglected by home owners but their role should not be underestimated at all.
Not all of us realize the importance of gutters to our property. Rain gutters play an important role to our home building. Their role is to prevent possible damage to its foundation. They also offer protection to our home’s foundation. Gutters often fill with debris, sticks, leaves and even nests of pests and insects.
When this cluttered debris creates clogs, it may lead to water entering the building under the roof or pouring into the foundation. This poses a risk to our landscape plants. Blocked gutter lines also create ice dams in the winter. When they are not cleaned regularly, we risk getting water damage inside our property.
The best way to protect our gutters and property from potential damage is to clean our gutter lines and downspouts regularly and in the right way. Gutter clogs are usually formed at the spot where downspouts join the gutter system.
When gutters are clogged with debris they cannot perform their job properly and this may lead to problems for your home in the future like mildew/mold development, roof leaks, window leaks, spoiled flower beds and plants. As many of you probably know, water damage is such a problem that brings with itself many other problems. Mold of for example can appear in our basement/crawlspace and be disastrous to the foundation of our building.
It’s recommended that gutters should be cleaned twice a year or at least once a year at a minimum. Depending on the location we are living at we may need to clean our gutters more often. If there are overhanging trees close to your property or big number of plants you should consider cleaning your gutters more often than twice a year. Rain gutter cleaning is also especially recommended after a big storm.
Why it’s important to clean our gutters regularly?
When we don’t clean our gutters too often we risk getting some serious issues in the future. Although it may seem as an easy task at first it can be pretty difficult if we are not equipped with the right cleaning tools so preparation is important in the case.
Benefits of gutter cleaning
Gutter and downspouts cleaning offers us many benefits and we should not neglect this simple but important chore.
Regular gutter cleaning can save us thousands of dollars since it can prevent the risk of performing repairs to our gutters and home building after getting damage. When we leave the debris to stay for too long, it can lead to water damage.
After a rain the leaves and debris in the gutters get wet. When there is too much debris, the moisture coming from it spreads to the façade of our home, its foundation and can reach the inside walls of our home. This consequently can lead to mold growth and spoil the air we breathe in our house.
Water damage repairment cost can go up to 10 000$ which is way too much than the sum you are going to invest in buying a proper ladder, tools and equipment for cleaning your gutters.
Gutter cleaning cannot be considered pretty quick task for doing in short time. Sometimes we may need more than one day to clean our gutters depending on how clogged they are. But it will take less time than time we can spend on potential repairments that neglection of gutter cleaning can cause.
Long gutter life
Our rain gutter will serve us long if we maintain them in a good condition in every season and check them regularly for clogged spots. Timely cleaning of gutters can save us a lot of trouble in the long run.
Steps how to clean gutters
Step1 – Climbing equipment
Find a stable and reliable ladder that is extendable . Place your ladder on an even sturdy surface. Avoid landscapes that can shift and don’t offer too much stability. If the ground underneath the ladder is soft, this holds the risk of sinking so you should find out some platform to put it over and then set the ladder. Another option is to get pieces of scrap wood of the same size and place them under the ladder’s legs on the leaning side of the ladder. Check again if it’s stable and reposition it if it’s necessary.
Lean the ladder on the gutter where it is attached to the house to the building with some fastener such as nail. Make sure that the ladder is at the correct angle especially if you are using an extension ladder. Reposition it if the land is uneven or sloping. If you are pretty much sure your ladder is reliable, use a standoff ladder stabilizers (called also ladder horns) offering extra support and safety for you.
The role of these stabilizers is also to keep the ladder from damaging the gutter. It’s recommended to have a helper by your side to give you hand if you accidentally drop something or to hold the ladder if necessary. Before climbing the ladder test it to see if it’s stable enough and then climb higher. It shouldn’t wobble.
Step 2 – Protective clothing
Because gutter cleaning is a messy chore, if we plan to clean our gutters we should wear:
- long-sleeved shirt
- rubber gloves
- comfortable work pants
If your home is more than a single story, it’s advisable to wear a helmet too if you are climbing at high spots.
Step3 – Tools
Plastic scoops are excellent for cleaning gutters. They can be found at every hardware store for around 25$. If we cannot find such we can use hand spade, plastic spatula or sandbox shovel for kids. It’s important that the shovel is made of plastic so that we don’t damage the gutters while working.
Instead of shovel you can remove gutter debris by hand. You just need a pair of good sturdy gloves. Gutter gunk can be removed also with an air compressor which can save you much time in this task. Use the nozzle of an air compressor to blow out debris and buildup from the gutters.
Remember that you should not reach to remove debris. If it’s difficult for reaching, don’t try over reaching because you are in the risk of losing balance on the ladder. Clean only those places that are within your reach. When you are ready with one section, climb down the ladder, reposition it and continue cleaning the other section of your gutters.
Step4 – Setting
To make our whole cleaning job easier, use wheelbarrow, tarp or garbage can to collect the debris you will scoop with the shovel. Tarp is considered a more convenient option if you find one. Spread it on the ground before setting the ladder and dump the scooped debris directly on it. By using a plastic tarp you can keep your garden or lawn clean from unnecessary gunk.
Instead of tarp or other receptacle, we can use simple buckets for debris disposal. Attach a plastic bucket to your ladder by using a coat hanger. Use a rope to attach the coat hanger to the ladder. Place it at the second rung from the top and hang the bucket’s handle on the hanger and secure it with a rope if needed.
The collected gunk from gutters is in fact biodegradable. If you are fan of compost and there are no flower beds around your house you should worry about, then you can just throw the scooped gutter debris on the ground and leave it to decompose
Step5 – Flushing out
When we are ready scoping out the gunk from our gutters, use a garden hose to flush gutters and downspouts to remove any left debris in the gutters. By using water in this case we can check if there are any holes or crevices in your gutters that create leaks.
When we are sure we have cleaned up all the debris, check if there is any sagging metal. If you find out some part of the gutter line is hanging, use gutter hangers to keep them stable.
Gutter covers are an excellent idea for prevention as they can slow clogging. They are installed in the form of mesh screens, porous foam or clip-on grates. But remember that the cost can go higher since it doesn’t include gutters only but also gutter covers and downspouts since they need regular maintenance too. The usual price for gutter covers installation per foot is $6-$8.
For those of you who are not into the idea of cleaning their gutters by themselves or are not sure if they can succeed with the task, you should better contact a professional window cleaning company that will do the job for you. Cleaning companies usually charge around 50$-250$ for complete gutter cleaning services as the price depends on how long are your gutter lines, the size of your property and how much they are clogged.