Until they stop working well, rain gutters are your home’s invisible workhorses. They protect your roof, siding, foundation, landscaping, and even your home’s interior, by capturing and controlling the flow of rainwater. But when they’re clogged and simply can’t do their intended job, they can put you and your home’s well-being at risk. Neglect cleaning your gutters and you face hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars in expensive repair bills – and the possibility of exposing your family to breeding mosquitoes and other threatening critters like wasps.
How to Clean Gutters
There are several ways to clean gutters, and some of the various ways will depend on whether or not you have gutter guards, a 2nd story, or prefer to clean them from the ground. We’ll get into the various options but before we do, you’ll want to know that no matter the option you choose, the basics include these steps:
- Gather your supplies and tools. At a minimum, you’ll need a bucket, household detergent, soft-bristled brush, garden hose, eye protection, garden gloves, and possibly some bleach.
- Scoop out twigs, leaves, pinecones, needles, nests, etc. Don’t forget to also check the downspouts for debris clogs.
- Gently scrub the gutters’ inside and outside with a soft-bristled brush and gentle household detergent. For more stubborn stains, add some bleach to the bucket of detergent.
- If you have aluminum gutters, you may need to clean off oxidation – that gray chalky material that builds up and makes your gutters look grungy.
- Rinse the gutters to make sure all of the detergent and loosened dirt are removed.
How to Clean Gutters With Gutter Guards
Gutter guards help prevent debris build-up inside the gutters but they don’t completely eliminate the need to clean your gutters. Leaves, needles, and seeds will still gather on top of the gutter guards and can prevent water from entering through the guards. So it’s important to keep the guards clean.
- A leaf blower is a quick and easy way to clean accumulated leaves from the gutter guard surfaces.
- Or you can sweep off the guards with a whisk broom or even your gloved hands. Once you’re up on the ladder, be sure to check inside the gutters to make sure they’re clear of debris.
How to Clean Gutters Without Climbing a Ladder
If you’d rather not climb a ladder and want to clean the gutters from the ground, there are several tools that you can use to do the job:
- Gutter vacuum. This vacuum is designed to fit on the end of a shop-vac or leaf blower. These work best when you’re cleaning out dry debris.
- Gutter flusher. The flusher attaches to a garden hose with an extendable metal pole. If you use this tool, you should vacuum or remove the dry debris first.
- Gutter Sense. This attaches to an extension pole and has tongs that grasp leaves and twigs. The gutter sense works best when there is minimal debris to cleanout.
- Gutter cleaning applicator. The applicator attaches to an extendable painter’s pole and is designed to wipe dirt off the gutter surfaces from the ground. The applicator doesn’t aid in cleaning the inside of the gutters.
- A pressure washer with a long wand extension. A pressure washer can make the job go quickly but be especially careful about the degree of pressure, especially with copper gutters.
Cleaning gutters from the ground is more efficient when you can combine several of the above tools – tools to first remove debris, then tools to clean and flush the gutters. Also, if the surfaces look grungy, they’ll need to be lightly scrubbed. Unless you live where there are few surrounding trees, finding and employing the various tools to do a complete gutter cleaning from the ground can be a lot of effort and hard work.
How Often Should Gutters be Cleaned?
Gutters should be cleaned at least twice per year. How often you need to clean your gutters depends mainly on where you live and how many trees surround your home. Based on the types of trees in your area and their leaf cycles, you’ll be able to judge how often your gutters need cleaning – but at minimum, gutters should be inspected and cleaned in the fall and the spring.
In the fall, once most of the trees around your home are bare and before fall rains have begun in earnest, the gutters should be cleaned out. In the spring, gutters need to be cleaned again, especially when trees like maples begin to send out their little helicopter seeds that end up in your gutters. It’s a good idea to jot down on your calendar that every four to six months, you’ll need to clean your gutters.
Why it’s Important to Maintain Clean Gutters
When they work well, gutters are a hard-working out-of-sight, out-of-mind feature of your home. But as soon as they start leaking and overflowing, you may have more problems than you bargained for. Backed-up rain gutters force water in under your roof which can lead to all kinds of expensive repairs. Your siding, window and door frames, foundation, basement, and landscaping are all at risk of damage when dirty gutters can’t efficiently direct water away from your home.
When debris collects in your gutters, it not only prevents rainwater and snowmelt from flowing properly but it provides an ideal environment for breeding insects, critters, and their nests. With all the concerns about mosquito-carrying diseases, the last thing you want is for mosquitoes to be populating in the pooling water of your neglected rain gutters.
How Much Does it Cost to Clean Gutters?
It can cost from $75 to $250 to clean gutters on an average size, one-story home. Most companies base their cost on a flat fee per linear foot of gutter. As you figure in the cost of having your gutters professionally cleaned, also figure in the savings you’ll enjoy by not having to climb a ladder and do the debris removal, scrubbing, and rinsing. When professionals clean your gutters, they remove all debris from the roof, downspouts, and gutters. As they’re removing debris, they check for holes, separated joints, and weak hangers or loose spikes.
Spout Gutter Pros offers free quotes from gutter cleaning professionals near you so you can quickly find out how much it will cost to clean the gutters on your particular home. We also vet every gutter cleaning professional in our network so you’re assured you’ll only be connected with insured and licensed pros. And more good news – quotes are complimentary so there’s no obligation!
Gutter Cleaning Safety
There are many home maintenance jobs that are safe enough for a homeowner to complete. But every time you have to climb a ladder, your safety risk increases significantly. Falls from ladders send an average of 240,000 people to the emergency room in the U.S every year. But it isn’t just ladder accidents that make cleaning gutters perilous – be sure to wear protective eyewear, gloves, and non-slip closed-toe footwear.
Before you pull the ladder out of your garage, review the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) guidelines for the safe use of extension ladders.
It’s easy to get a fast estimate from Spout Gutter Pros and find out how affordable it can be to have your gutters professionally cleaned! Request your quote now!