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How To Clean Dirty Gutters

Mar 16, 2016 6:15:00 PM

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A sturdy gutter system is a vital component for maintaining the integrity of the roofing system which protects your home. For instance, the difference between a well-maintained gutter system and gutters which are ignored season after season can mean the difference between a healthy roofing system that protects your home from rain and snow, or a looming roofing-system repair for your Northern Virginia or Southern Maryland home. 


Gutters Need Attention, Too

Many homeowners may not give gutters much thought, or would like to ignore the chore of gutter cleaning, however, maintaining a clean gutter system shouldn't be ignored. Just like any other system in your home, gutters need attention, too.

When gutters become clogged, they often cause ice dams and physical damage to the roof, which forces or gives water access inside your home. Clogged gutters may also become heavy enough to pull loose, creating another access point for water to rot and deteriorate newly exposed wood. Overflowing water can cause damage to softscapes, hardscapes and the foundation, and standing debris in gutters invites mosquitoes and carpenter ants.

To avoid all these issues associated with clogged gutters, give your gutters a good cleaning twice a year.

How to Clean Your Gutters

You should never climb up on your roof to clean gutters. The potential for accidents is too great. In fact, accidents occurring at home involving the roof are quite high and may cause serious injury. Gutter cleaning is also not a chore for a neighborhood teenager for the same safety reasons, and you don't want to incur any liability should an accident occur. If you don't clean the gutters yourself, call a reputable contractor to perform the task. If you're ready to clean the gutters yourself, follow these steps.

  • You'll need a ladder tall enough to reach the gutters at all points. You may wish to use a ladder stabilizer for safety, and a ladder stand-off which prevents the ladder itself from coming into contact with the gutters and causing dents or scratches.

  • Wear gloves, safety goggles, a dust mask and comfortable clothing.

  • Use a garden trowel or a gutter scooper, which you may pick up at any hardware store, for removing debris.

  • If you don't want to clean up the debris from your lawn once you're finished, you may move a large garbage bin with you and the ladder in which to discard the debris, or you could use a drop cloth.

  • Start with the downspouts. Use a garden hose and nozzle to spray inside the downspouts to clear them.

  • Next, begin cleaning the gutters moving away from the downspouts.

  • Every ten feet or so, use the garden hose and nozzle to rinse the gutter area you've cleaned toward the downspout. Be careful not to splash debris onto your home's exterior walls, or you'll be cleaning double-duty.

If you would like to avoid gutter cleaning in the future, consider installing metal gutter screens or covers to block debris and leaves from entering the gutter system. You may select gutter screens which only block larger debris or you may wish to install gutter screens that block nearly all debris from entering the gutters which may cause issues with water overflowing and ice dams. 

If you have any questions about gutter cleaning, gutter repair, gutter screens and covers or roofing repair, contact the home-exterior experts at Exterior Medics for more information. We serve homeowners throughout Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland.

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