How to Clean the Gutter of Your Home Safely

Written By Kenneth Wilson  |  0 Comments

In this guide, we'll cover everything you need to know in cleaning your home's gutters in a proper and safe way.

Let's get started!

What is Rain Gutter?

A rain gutter, also known as “eavestrough”, is a narrow channel attached to the roof edges. It’s an important part of the roofing system responsible for the water management of your house. A gutter collects rainwater and effectively channels the water flow through the downspouts and away from the foundation.

Leaves, twigs, and other debris can clog the gutters, particularly after a storm or during autumn when leaves are falling. When this happens, water will not flow properly and may cause damages to the interior and foundation of your house. It can also result in wood rot, mold, insect infestations, winter ice dams, and possible basement flooding.

Signs of a Clogged Gutter

Knowing the tell-tale signs of a clogged gutter is essential to prevent these troublesome issues. You can pay attention to these signs:

  • Animals or Pests on your Roof. If you spot critters, birds, or other animals like squirrels and mice on your gutters, there’s a high chance it’s already clogged. They find gutters to be a convenient place to make nests.
  • Spilling Water. If there’s a blockage on your gutters, water will spill over the sides of your roof. Overflowing water can cause leakage, roof and siding damage, basement flooding, not to mention puddles in your lawn or garden.
  • Sagging Gutters. Leaves and debris can accumulate in the gutters, which causes them to sag and bend in the middle. As the weight gets heavier, you may notice the gutters pulling away from the side of your home.
  • Stain Marks on your Siding. Stagnant rainwater in your gutters may cause your roof to rot, resulting in water dripping on your siding. If you notice any of these signs, it's best to check your gutter system to address the problems right away. Having it checked regularly is also a good maintenance practice to follow through.

You can clean your gutters at least twice a year – once during spring and once in the fall, especially if you have overhanging trees. And while this task may seem easy, it can also be dangerous if done incorrectly. There are lots of things you have to take into account to prevent injuries and property damage.

7 Steps on How to Clean Gutters Safely

We're going to break it down for you! Here we go!

1. Prepare all the necessary materials.

Before unclogging the gutters, make sure you have the necessary tools or materials, such as: Ladder, Bucket, Safety glasses, Rubber gloves (for protection), Garden hose, Gutter scooper or hand shovel, Plumber's snake (optional), Garbage bag or tarp, Rags.

2. Use a sturdy and extendable ladder.

One of the most common accidents while cleaning gutters is falling off a ladder. So before climbing up the ladder, inspect it first for defects, loose parts, or any signs of deterioration and damage. Also, use a sturdy ladder that’s capable of holding your weight to prevent accidents.

Moreover, be sure to place the ladder on a stable surface. If you’re using an extension ladder, the top of it should be resting firmly on the side of the house. It’s also good to have someone hold the ladder steady and help pass the necessary tools to you when cleaning the gutters.

3. Check the Power Cables.

When you’re cleaning your gutters, coming in contact with electrical cables can be extremely dangerous. Be sure to inspect for loose wires first if you have a power line cable near your roof. Loose wires can cause electric shocks if touched accidentally, especially after the rain.

If there’s any damage, it’s best to contact a professional electrician to fix it before cleaning the gutters.

4. Wear Safety Gear.

Wearing safety gear is important as it protects you against health and safety risks while cleaning the gutters. The task can get messy and strenuous, so make sure to wear a long-sleeved shirt and work pants to keep you safe from sunburn and prevent scratches and cuts.

Be sure to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from dirt, debris, and other bits of waste you'll likely hold. Also, don't forget to wear safety glasses to shield your eyes from things that might fly in the air while cleaning the gutter. And lastly, it's best to wear rubber shoes to prevent slipping and falling.

5. Clean the gutters.

Use a scoop or hand shovel to remove the leaves and debris from the gutters. You can place a plastic tarp on the ground to collect all the contents. A bucket or garbage bag can be an alternative container for the debris you accumulated as well. Once removed, you can flush the gutter using a garden hose until there's no remaining debris.

It’s also important to choose a suitable scooping tool. It's best to use a plastic scooping tool instead of metal to avoid scraping or damaging the bottom of the gutter. Grazing can cause rust to form, which can destroy the gutter system.

6. Check the downspout.

Check the downspout for leaves or any dirt stuck in it. If it's clogged, spray the hose into the downspout at full pressure and let the water run until it's free of debris. You can also use a power washer or a plumber's snake to dislodge any remaining contents inside.

7. Check for Leaks.

The best way to spot leakage is to spray water at the farthest end of the downspout. It will help you identify if there are any holes to repair. If the leaks are small, you can use a gutter seal to patch them up. For larger holes, replacing the gutter is a better option.

Final Thoughts

Gutters are an integral part of your roofing system. When neglected, clogged gutters can result in damages and structural issues to the interior part, not to mention the foundation of your house. You're more likely to spend a lot of money on repairs as well.

So it's a good practice to regularly inspect it for leaves or any debris that may cause blockage. Also, it's important to include cleaning the gutters as part of your regular home maintenance. You can follow the comprehensive guide above to ensure you're cleaning the gutters at home safely and efficiently.

About the Author

I can build it, and I can help you get the patio enclosure you want! I got my start in the Florida patio industry back in the 70s as a young general laborer looking for something to make a few bucks. At the time I never thought it would end up as my career. Over the years I grew beyond the laborer position, becoming a foreman, superintendent, and then into executive management for some of the largest patio contractors, and material vendors. Now into retirement and slightly bored, I offer consulting services to new and existing contractors, and publish this website to help the people who love their patio's and screen enclosures the most - YOU!

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