Homeownership Made Simple - Tips for Cleaning Your Gutters

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Your home’s gutters serve a vital purpose. They send water down into the spouts and a safe distance away from your home’s foundation. If your gutters are clogged or overflowing, they can cause expensive foundation damage.

“Wait,” you may be saying. “I didn’t realize that not cleaning my gutters could have such serious consequences.” Sadly, it’s true. Water is usually the culprit in foundation cracks, as it collects in the soil and causes the ground to expand. That puts pressure on footings. Plus, excess water flowing over your gutters creates ruts in your flowerbeds, and can even damage siding.

While cleaning your gutters doesn’t sound like fun, spending thousands to repair your foundation is a lot less fun. Luckily, your gutters aren’t that needy. By following these simple tips, you can ensure clean gutters — and fewer headaches for you.

When Should I Clean My Gutters?

If you have trees near your house that dump leaves, twigs, seeds, or pollen into your gutters throughout the spring and summer, you’ll definitely want to clean them thoroughly each fall. In terms of timing, wait until the leaves are mostly done falling off the trees.

The bottom line is that you should clean your gutters at least once a year, and maybe a couple more times if needed. For example, it’s not a bad idea to do another cleaning to get your gutters ready for spring showers. In addition, if a big storm dumped a lot of debris, a quick cleaning wouldn’t hurt.

How Do I Clean My Gutters?

Gather the Right Equipment

First, let’s talk equipment. You’ll want long sleeves, gloves, eye protection, and a good extendable ladder. We also recommend a tarp to spare your lawn the gunk you’ll be tossing onto it, as well as a small plastic trowel or shovel to help you remove what’s in the gutters. That way, your gloves don’t just become big, soggy paw covers.

Why eye protection? You never know what’s going to come flying out of those things, including bees, wasps, or frogs. And why use a plastic scooper, rather than a metal one? You don’t want metal tools gouging into the relatively thin metal of the gutters themselves.

A sturdy ladder will serve as your single most important safety gear. After all, you’ll be moving it around a lot to get at every section of your gutters. Aluminum ladders are light but sturdy. Generally, wooden ones are too wobbly for the job.

If you’re worried about your ladder’s sturdiness or you have second-story windows, call a professional to clean your gutters. Let yourself off the hook.

Get Those Gutters Clean and Clear

  1. Get into good position. Make sure your ladder is positioned on sturdy, solid ground. You want to ensure that it’s safely planted, letting you get above the gutters so that you can easily scoop out all the accumulated junk.
  2. Scoop and toss. Once you’re up there, it’s really a simple process. Scoop out the accumulated gunk, throwing it onto the tarp. Work your way around your home.
  3. Rinse. Then, once the gutters are cleared of debris, use a hose to wash them out. That way, you can note any leaks. If you do find leaks while rinsing, mark them with a marker so you can apply sealant later.
  4. Auger any blockages. If you find a blocked downspout while rinsing, get an auger to clear it out. A clogged downspout can become a problem in a hurry, as it backs up the entire gutter system. That’s bound to cause damage later on, leading to catastrophic water damage or even pulling your gutters off the house.
  5. Make any necessary repairs. Once you’re done cleaning and rinsing, look for any parts of the gutters that are sagging. Bolster them with gutter hangers. In addition, once gutters are dry, you can seal up the leaks.

What If I Just Put Screens Over Them Instead?

Thinking about adding screens or gutter protectors? Some people swear by them. But it’s important to realize that, once screens or protectors are installed, it can be harder to clean your gutters yourself.

Do I REALLY Need to Do All This?

It depends on your situation. Your gutter maintenance regimen will be dictated by how much debris gets into them over spring, summer, and fall. Everyone’s gutters will see some gunk develop, but yours may only need a light cleaning each year — or they might be so vast and complex that you’d rather hire someone to do it. Either way, be safe, smart, and vigilant, and be sure to get it done at least once a year.

What’s another great way to protect your home? By making sure you have the right homeowners coverage at the best price, of course! Covered’s expert insurance advisors will be happy to do a free policy review. Just give us a call at (303) 302-9927 or send us a message.

Cover Photo by Rūta Celma on Unsplash