Traditional gutters need to be cleaned at least twice a year. Regular cleaning reduces the risk of costly damage to your roof and helps lengthen the life of your gutters.
If your gutters are clogged and leaking, it’s time to get to work ASAP. Keep reading for your simple guide to cleaning out gutters like a pro.
What time of year should you clean your gutters?
The best time to clean your gutters is before they become clogged and damaged. We typically recommend PNW homeowners give their gutters some love and attention in the fall and again in the springtime.
However, if you notice debris piling up or water spilling over the tops of your gutters, don’t wait. Better to clear the clog immediately than to wait and risk extensive damage to your gutters, roof, and home.
Make sure you have the right tools
If you’re going to put in the effort of doing the job, you might as well do it right. So take some time to make sure you’re prepared.
Start by taking a trip around your garage, shed, or local hardware store to gather some gutter cleaning supplies. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Sturdy ladder (make sure it’s tall enough to reach your roofline and certified to hold your weight)
- Work gloves
- Face mask
- Wire brush
- Protective glasses
- Hose with a spray head
- A friend to help you out
Always work from a ladder – never lean over from the roof
Cleaning should always be performed from a secure ladder – not by standing on your roof. And even though working from a ladder is safer than from your roof, proper safety measures still need to be followed.
Ladder safety is no joke – particularly when working on your gutters. Hundreds of homeowners fall of their roofs every year trying to clean or repair their gutters. Don’t risk it!
Here are 10 important ladder safety tips to observe when cleaning your gutters:
- Never climb up during bad weather – We’re so accustomed to wet weather here in the Portland and Seattle areas that you may not care about working outside in the rain. But rainy days are a recipe for slips and falls, so avoid climbing up a ladder when rain is on the horizon.
- Wear appropriate footwear – Sandals can get caught on a ladder rung, causing you to stumble, and non-traction shoes can be slippery. Choose a pair of sturdy tennis or working shoes to ensure your safety.
- Make sure you’re using the right size ladder – The ladder should not reach significantly lower or higher than your gutter line. It’s generally recommended that you use a 4-legged ladder for a single-story home, and an extension ladder for a 2-story home.
- Inspect your ladder for damage – Before climbing up, always inspect the ladder for loose screw and bolts, or dents
- Secure buckets – If your ladder has shelving space meant for holding a bucket for collecting debris, make sure you secure the bucket with a lanyard or bungee.
- Place the ladder on firm and level ground – Before climbing, make sure the ladder is sitting firmly on the ground. Always avoid placing a ladder on soft or uneven ground.
- Follow the three points of contact rule – This rule means always keeping both your feet and at one hand on the ladder at all times.
- Give yourself plenty of time – Accidents are more likely when you’re in a rush, hurrying to get the job done as fast as possible. Take your time, climbing slowly and moving intentionally.
- Never move the ladder while standing on it – Never try to adjust the placement of your ladder while you’re standing on it.
- Use a helper – Having a helper down below to watch your back and hold the ladder steady if necessary is a smart and safe best practice.
Did You Know:
Every year, more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries and 300 deaths are caused by falls from ladders.
Clear away dirt, leaves, and branches
Using your work gloves to protect your hands, carefully scoop out as much debris as possible.
We typically recommend just tossing debris down to the ground, where you’ll clean them up later. This method is typically much easier (and safer) than wrestling with a bucket or trash bag.
Slowly move from section to section until your entire gutter system is cleared of debris. And don’t forget about your downspout, either!
A few things to keep in mind and watch out for as you work:
- Never pull or lean on your gutters for support as this can cause major damage and is very unsafe
- Watch out for bugs or wildlife, such as bird’s nests and beehives. If you stumble across these, call a professional for help
- If a large branch or other item is stuck or difficult to remove, avoid yanking and pulling – that’s a disaster waiting to happen! Instead, use sheers to cut the item into smaller pieces
Wash out your gutters
Once your gutters and downspout have been cleared of major debris, use your scrubber to clear away any sticky and stubborn buildup. Give it a good scrub, but avoid putting a lot of pressure on your gutters.
From there, use a hose with a spray nozzle to make sure you clear off any of those leftover particles and wash away dirt. Spray water through your gutters at an angle and leave those gutters in tip-top shape.
Look for damage or points of concern
As you’re washing your gutters, and after you’re done cleaning, conduct an inspection to look for points of damage or concern.
Here are the specific things to look for:
- Water should be flowing smoothly and freely in the right direction
- There should be no sagging gutters
- Downspouts should be draining properly
- Water should be exiting through the downspout and nowhere else
- There shouldn’t be any rust, mold, or holes
If you notice any of these issues, contact a professional right away. If you catch small issues right away, you will avoid the premature cost of a full gutter replacement.
Never clean your gutters again
Phew – you did it! Great job.
Cleaning your gutters can be a long and tedious task, but a properly working gutter system is very important for keeping your roof and home safe and dry.
Still, if you’d rather not have to clean out your gutters twice a year (and who wouldn’t), there is a solution. That solution is gutter guards.
Gutter guards are placed on top of your gutters, allowing rain to pass through but shielding your gutters from mold, pest infestations, and debris accumulation. Best of all, they never clog and are virtually maintenance-free.
Are Gutter Guards Right For You?
How can we help?
At Rainbusters Exteriors, gutters have been our business for over 25 years. We help homeowners all throughout the Pacific Northwest care for their home through professional, high-quality gutter guards.
Our gutter guards will protect your roof, foundation, and home from water damage and are backed by our lifetime warranty. If you’re interested in learning more about our gutter guards, give us a call at 253-863-2070. We’d love to hear from you.