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How to Clean Your Gutters Properly

Oct 12, 2017 5:57:00 PM

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Minimally, you should be cleaning out your gutters twice a year – once in the spring and again in the fall. However, if you live in areas with dense foliage, we’d recommend doing so more often. That’s because your gutters play a vital role in safely dispersing rainwater runoff from your roof.

Clogged gutters can lead to a multitude of problems, which include gutter damage, foundation erosion and even water intrusion. Hence, it makes sense to ensure that your gutters and downspouts are free and clear from leaves and other debris. Here’s a closer look at how to properly clean your gutters this fall:

Cleaning Your Gutters: A Step-by-Step Guide 

Tools you’ll need: A step ladder, working gloves, a bucket, a hose and trowel.


Start at the downspout: Chances are that some leaves, debris and branches have already made their way through the downspout. Start at these low points and clear away anything that’s come out. Reach into the downspout to see if anything is lodged in the elbow joint and remove if necessary.

Grab your step ladder and ascend so that you’re level with your gutter. With your work gloves on, scoop any larger debris (i.e., leaves, branches) out of the gutters and place them into your bucket. Don’t worry so much about the finer debris, just focus on removing the big stuff. Discard the contents of your bucket into a yard waste bag. A trowel may come in handy for this step.

Fill the bucket with water (or roll out your hose) and ascend your ladder so that you’re at the part of your gutter opposite the downspout. Pour (or spray) water into the gutter and watch to make sure that it drains properly. If the downspout isn’t clogged, the stream of water should also remove any finite debris from the gutters. If water sits in your gutters, there are two things to assess. One, your downspout could be clogged (more on that in Step 4). Or, the pitch of your gutters may not be sufficient. Gutters should be pitched in a way so that they slope about a half-inch toward the downspout for every 10 feet.

Unclog the downspout: Usually, a decent dose of water pressure should be enough to unclog downspouts. But wet leaves can be difficult to dislodge. If the clog is too difficult for you to reach with your hand and blasting your hose at full pressure into the downspout doesn’t do the trick, you’ll need to pick up a plumbing snake tool. Once the downspout is cleared, repeat Step 3 to ensure that your gutters are now draining properly. (Note: If your downspouts run underground and into a drainage sewer, you may need to detach it to confirm that any clogs have been resolved.)

While you’re cleaning your gutters out, you should also make sure they are in good working order. For instance, while we already covered how they should be pitched, you should also make sure that hangers and screws are doing an adequate job of keeping the gutter secure to the home. Over time, gutters may sag from taking on the excess weight of debris.

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