How to clean your gutters
Last updated: January 1
Gutters do an important job, directing water away from the perimeter of your house. If your gutters are clogged with debris or not in operative shape, however, they may not function properly. Regular maintenance may keep your gutters in tip-top shape, helping prevent water damage and keep your home looking nice.
Why is cleaning out gutters important?
Clogged gutters may cause all kinds of issues with your home. Here are a few common examples:
Properly functioning gutters and downspouts direct water away from the structure of your home, says the Insurance Information Institute (III). But, clogged gutters and downspouts may potentially cause water to collect around your foundation and, as a result, get into your basement.
According to BobVila.com, the weight of water, twigs and other debris may help loosen gutters and cause them to pull away from their attachments. This may lead to damage to your siding or trim.
If you live in an area where freezing temperatures are a common occurrence during winter, your clogged gutters may cause ice dams. An ice dam is when water flows over the edges of a clogged gutter and then freezes, potentially forcing water into your home. Ice dams can also become so heavy they may rip the gutter right off your home, resulting in costly repair bills, says BobVila.com.
Clogged, damp gutters may also be an inviting home to carpenter ants, mosquitoes and even rodents, according to the National Pest Management Association. And, if these pests are living in your gutters, there's a chance they might make their way into your home.
How often should you clean gutters?
The National Center for Healthy Housing recommends cleaning your gutters at least twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall. It may also be a good idea to periodically check them for debris during the year. However, if you live in a region that includes any of the following, consider these tips:
If you live in a hot, dry desert, or in an area without any foliage or plants near your home, you may only need to clean your gutters once a year, says Angie's List.
If your house is surrounded by trees, your gutters may need cleaning three to four times a year, according Angie's List.
Snow and ice
If you have snow on your roof and notice any ice dams, it may be too slippery and dangerous for you to attempt to remove ice dams yourself. It's a good idea to contact a professional who has experience and the appropriate equipment.
Remember, you should always defer to the advice of a professional on the right plan for your home to help make sure your gutters are cleaned often enough.
DIY gutter cleaning
Since cleaning your gutters requires you to get on a ladder, it's always safest to leave this job to a professional. Many companies specialize in gutter cleaning. These professionals have the knowledge and training to safely clean your gutters and downspouts and can typically check for and repair misalignment, leaks or damage.
However, if you decide to clean your gutters yourself, always remember to put safety first. Here's what you will need, according to BobVila.com:
- Gloves: Hand protection is critical due to the possibility of sharp objects in the gutter.
- Dust mask: Dried, clogged gutters can be very dusty, and a dust mask can help prevent you from breathing in this dust.
- Safety goggles: Debris may fly back at you when cleaning, so wearing safety goggles to help protect your eyes is a must.
- Ladder and spotter: A ladder is typically needed to access the gutters, and you should always have someone nearby to hold the ladder for you.
- Garden trowel: It can be used to scoop the debris out of the gutter.
- Bucket: Use a bucket to collect the debris you're cleaning out of the gutter.
Keep in mind that some debris may be stuck, and it may take some effort to remove it. Be careful not to damage the gutter. After the larger debris is removed, use a garden hose to wash out the remaining dirt, says BobVila.com.
Taking some time to focus on cleaning out your gutters may help keep water out and prevent damage to your home. Proper gutter maintenance can be vital to defending your property from water.
This article highlights examples of precautions you can consider to help maintain your personal property. Please recognize that a particular precaution may not be appropriate or effective in every circumstance and that taking preventive measures cannot guarantee any outcome. We encourage you to use your own good judgment about what's appropriate and always consider safety.