Gutter Cleaning Tips
One thing not many of us enjoy doing is cleaning out gutters, but it’s one of those things that needs to be done to maintain your home’s exterior.
When your gutters and downspouts are not flowing properly, water can intrude into places it doesn’t need to be. At the least, water will rot and decay the building materials that make up your home. Rain water will flow over the tops of your gutters and down your siding and can get in behind fascia metal and around your windows.
If you’re in an area that sees freezing temperatures in the winter, ice dams can occur when water cannot flow through the gutter system properly. Ice dams can lift shingles, heave your roofing, and cause gutters to become loose.
For most homes that have a fair amount of trees in the area, cleaning your gutters twice a year is sufficient. If your roof is not too steep and you are comfortable walking on it, using a leaf blower on a dry day can work great to blow out the gutters.
In a lot of cases the debris in gutters won’t be dry – after all, the gutters are plugged and won’t allow water to escape. In this situation a leaf blower may not work very well. Scooping out the debris by hand and dropping it into a trash can down below is one option. You can do this from the roof or from a ladder. Be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands form any sharp metal edges. Once you’ve scooped out most of the debris, you can use a garden hose to flush the smaller stuff.
You can also use a pressure washer to blow debris out of your gutters but that can be quite messy and may result in washing most of the house. Be sure to pay special attention to the drain holes above the downspouts. This is where most of the debris will collect. Even if a gutter is fairly free of any debris, there is a good chance you’ll still find some plugging the drain hole.
Once you have removed the debris, run some water through the gutters to be sure they are working properly. Check all the downspouts – especially at the elbows. If you come across a plugged downspout, try using a jet stream on your garden hose nozzle to blow it out. If that fails to loosen the blockage, take the nozzle off the hose but leave the water running. Stuff the hose down the drain hole and into the elbow of the downspout. Work the hose back and forth like a pipe cleaner until the blockage is free.
If the blockage is at the bottom of the downspout, use the hose trick with the water running and cram the hose up through the bottom elbow of the downspout.
If you don’t have any luck loosening the jam, the best thing to do is to disassemble the gutter downspout. If the downspout is riveted together, use a 1/8″ drill bit to drill out the rivets so it comes apart. Take off the elbows so you can easily blow them out with a garden hose along with the straight piece of downspout. To reassemble the downspout you’ll need rivets and a rivet gun found at most hardware stores.
Another option to cleaning gutters is to hire it out to a professional. The right contractor will properly clean your gutters and be sure your downspouts are free. They should also take all the debris with them, not leave it all laying in your landscaping. An average gutter cleaning service, depending on your area, can be anywhere from $50-$250. You can usually get a better rate if you get set up on a maintenance plan to have them cleaned out a couple of times per year.
Cleaning out gutters is preventative maintenance and should be taken seriously. Your gutter system is the means to draining rain water away from your home and foundation. Keep it clean and maintained and you’ll be sure to avoid any unnecessary expensive repairs or replacements.