Cleaning your gutters might seem like a chore that can wait but the more you put it off, the more work you’re going to have in the future.

Cleaning your gutters can prevent various problems:

  • Water damage from overflowing blocked downspouts;
  • Fire hazard from dry leaves;
  • Pests nesting in the debris and finding their way into your home;
  • Damaged gutters and downspouts from clogging with leaves and twigs;
  • Gutters falling down because the damages were not taken care of in time.

You should clean them at least twice a year – once in spring, and once in fall. And while this task seems simple, there are a few things you should know in case you are thinking about doing the job yourself.

Learn how to clean gutters in a safe and easy way.

In this article:

Gutter Cleaning Tools You’ll Need

Ladder

Choosing an appropriate ladder is important for your safety. For a single-story house, a four-legged step ladder will be your best choice because they are sturdy and stable. For a two-storey home, you will need an extension ladder. Some have adjustable legs for uneven ground or if you have to place the ladder on steps. Most ladders have safety instructions, so be sure to follow them.

As far as the material, we do not recommend wooden ladders as they often get unstable with time. Fibreglass ladders are the strongest, although they weigh a lot. Our best pick is an aluminium ladder as they offer both adequate support and are lightweight.

Bucket

You will need a bucket to collect the rubbish. For easy access, use hooks to attach the bucket to the ladder. This way both of your hands are free and you won’t need to balance the bucket on the ladder or on the roof, both of which can be a safety hazard.

Garden trowel / Hand scoop

Use a hand scoop or a plastic garden trowel to remove packed debris. We recommend using plastic tools as they are softer than their metal alternatives and they won’t damage the seams or scratch the bottom. Even small scratches can make your gutters susceptible to rust and deterioration, which will eventually require you to change them completely.

Water hose

When you’re done cleaning, you will need a water hose to flush down the rest of the debris.

Work gloves

Choose a pair of thick work gloves. Leather ones are good for this job. If you’re cleaning up wet debris, put on rubber or disposable gloves underneath them.

You can come in contact with sharp objects so a good pair of gloves will also protect your hands from painful cuts. Gutter debris can often hide nasty surprises like bird or rodent droppings, that is full of potentially dangerous bacteria.

 

How to Clean Gutters Safely

Be mindful of the power lines

Safety first. When cleaning gutters always keep at least 3 meters (10 ft.) distance from the power lines. You don’t need to touch the power lines for it to be dangerous. Electricity can jump! Always maintain this 3-meter radius, including with your tools. Have in mind any electrical cables when you are about to clean the gutters, as they can pose a serious potential threat to your health. If there is a power line cable, always carry out visual inspection of the cable. If there is damage to the protective wire insulation do not attempt to repair it yourself. Call a professional electrician to fix it and don’t proceed cleaning your gutters until then. If a power line is closer than 3 meters from your property, call professional gutter cleaners to take care of the problem.

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Prepare the ladder and equipment

Prepare all your equipment beforehand so you don’t have to go up and down the ladder too much. Place the ladder on solid and stable ground. Before climbing, inspect it first. Make sure there are no bolts or screws loose and no defects are present. Check the hinges if they are securely locked into place. Hang the bucket on the ladder using hooks.

Clean the debris from the gutters

Now the main part – cleaning the gutters. Clear large debris like leaves and twigs by hand. Then use the trowel or gutter scoop to remove compacted debris.

Clean in sectors. Once you’re done with one sector, get down from the ladder and move it a little further to one side. Repeat the process.

Clean and unclog the downspouts

After you are done cleaning the gutters, it’s time to clean the downspouts.
If the downspout connects directly to an underground drain it has to be disconnected. This is to ensure the debris won’t move underground which will make your problem much harder to deal with it.

Remove and clean the downspout strainers. Run water down the sprout using a hose at full pressure. This not will show you if there are any leaks or if the downspouts are clogged. If you can see the water rising back up or not much water is coming from the other side – there’s s clog! The downspout has to be flushed from the bottom up. Get the hose in the opposite end and run the water up the downspout at full pressure. This is the easiest method of unclogging.

Run the water from the top again and look for leaks and other problems. If there’s standing water, the gutter is not properly sloped. Call a professional handyman to adjust them and level them out. Reattach the downspouts back on.

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Takeaways

  • Equip yourself with the appropriate tools.
  • A steady ladder is an absolute must!
  • Clean in sectors.
  • Once you’re done with the gutters, clean the downspout pipes.
  • Clean your gutters at least twice a year to prevent water damage and pest infestations.
  • To be safe, you can always call a professional to clean your gutters.

Do you plan on cleaning your gutters? Have you done it before?
Share your experience in the comments below!

  • Last update: September 28, 2020

Posted in All Articles, Cleaning Guides

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