Top Time Saving Gutter Cleaning Tips You Need to Know
Gutters can accumulate a fair amount of leaves, pollen, seeds, and other debris throughout the year resulting in gutter clogs. Cleaning your home’s gutters is a task that should be taken on two - four times per year but can be done effectively and efficiently in just a couple of hours depending on the size of the gutter system and the amount of debris.
Personal Safety Gutter Cleaning Tips
First, let’s talk about the equipment you need to ensure your personal safety. After all, you will have to climb up a ladder, potentially onto your roof, and may even have to navigate tree branches. Ensuring your own safety in the process should not be an afterthought!
In the US alone, there are about half a million falls annually off of ladders resulting in juries and, in some cases, even death.
In order to reach your gutters, you will need a strong, sturdy ladder that has stabilizers for safety. If your ladder does not fit this description, consider having a second person on hand as a spotter/stabilizer or get yourself a better ladder.
A sturdy ladder is a must so consider that your number one gutter cleaning tip.
You will be much more comfortable and protect yourself from bodily harm by wearing gloves and eye protection while gutter cleaning. Gloves will prevent you from receiving scratches, scrapes, and cuts when picking up debris. Gloves will also prevent you from receiving nasty bug bites or stings in the event you come across any of those crawly critters.
You will also want to wear eye protection in the form of clear goggles. Make sure they provide you with a full visual field and that they fit comfortably. Goggles will prevent you from getting pollen and dust in your eyes and keep your eyes dry and protected from the cleaning solution when using the sprayer.
Gutter Cleaning Tips: Choosing the Right Equipment
Now, let’s move on to lining up the right equipment. Having the right equipment on hand will make your job easier and allow you to do the best job.
In some cases you will simply grab debris with your hands but, in others, using a scoop designed for gutter debris removal will make your job faster and easier. Gutter scoops are great for that sludgy, fine material that is difficult, if not impossible, to grab using your hands. You will want to use the gutter scoop to get as much debris as possible out of your gutters before using the hose and sprayer. If you turn on your sprayer before enough debris is removed, you stand to have clogs build up in your downspouts.
Bucket and Hanging Hooks
So once you begin scooping out that debris, where does it go? You will need a bucket to put the debris in. (You might be thinking, “Can’t I just scoop everything out onto the ground?” Well, you could, but then you will have a big sludgy mess on the ground with debris that still needs to be picked up and removed. We promise, using a bucket saves you time from having to rake up debris later.)
Since you will want to hang the bucket from your gutter as you go along, you will also need a couple of hooks that are designed to allow your bucket to hang freely. And, no, you do not even want to think about using one hand to hold a bucket while your other hand scoops out debris, lest you become one of the half a million people each year falling off their ladder.
Garden Refuse Bags
Once you have filled up your bucket, you will need to deposit the contents in a garden bag for hauling away, so make sure you have a few of those on hand as well.
Pro Gutter Cleaning Tip: Vacuum
If you happen to have a shop vac with a very long hose, you may be able to get away with sucking out debris that way. Most homeowners don’t have that type of equipment on hand but, if you do, you will do a great job and impress your neighbors.
Hose & Jet Sprayer
You will want to hose out your gutters thoroughly once you have removed all the debris. Having a spray nozzle attachment will make the job easier.
Gutter Cleaning Tips for Getting the Job Done
Now that you have assembled your equipment, you can get to work. But, sort of like before driving a car, the first step is a quick inspection to make sure that there aren’t any obvious signs of damage.
Complete a Visual Inspection
Take a walk around your house to inspect for any gutters or downspouts that may be loose or unattached from your house as well as any cracks or breakage points. You will want to note these as it can be dangerous to work around loose gutters while you are on a ladder. Safety first!
Also note any close trees and low hanging branches you will have to work around so that you can mentally prepare for those more challenging areas that may require additional safety precautions, such as a spotter helping you.
Lastly, make note of any areas of your roof that have extensive debris you will want to remove. You may have to consider getting on your roof to complete that part of your job.
Remove Major Debris from Your Gutters
Once you decide where to start, place your ladder securely using the stabilizers. Climb up and attach the bucket to your gutter and begin removing debris using your gloved hands and/or gutter scoop. Unfortunately, using the “hands on'' method does mean you will have to go up and down your ladder multiple times as you move along your gutter system. Be sure to empty your bucket, as it fills, into your garden refuse bags.
Remove Roof Debris
While you’re up there, remove any debris that is within reaching distance at the edge of your roof. This is debris that is destined to end up in your gutters, so take care of it now while you’re up there. If you have a lot of debris and the ability to climb up onto your roof safely, you may need to do that to get everything off. If so, you will need a broom for sweeping. Oh - and be sure to wear secure, non-slip shoes!
Depending on how your gutter system is designed, you may be able to complete the entire cleaning process for a section at a time (debris removal and water rinse) or you may prefer to remove the debris from your entire gutter system and then rinse with water.
Rinsing Out Your Gutters
Once you have completed the removal of all debris, you can move on to the final step of using water to rinse your gutters. You might be thinking “Can’t I just wait for it to rain?” Well, you could, but your gutters will not get thoroughly cleaned by simple rainfall alone. Using a sprayer to rinse and clean your gutters will ensure that any micro debris, such as pollen and algae, is removed. These micro debris are the foundation for ongoing clogging if not dealt with routinely.
First, run some water through your hose into the gutters to make sure that the downspouts are free of debris. If you come across or suspect a clog, review the process outlined in the next section.
Next, attach a spray nozzle to the hose and use the jet spray to remove any final micro debris. In some cases, you may need to use an industrial cleaner to have any black algae or other gutter sludge and grime removed.
Clearing Downspout Clogs
Clogs in your downspout can be easily removed in most cases. The first tip is to try using your jet sprayer to see if that dislodges the clog. If it doesn’t, attach a rag to the end of an extension pole and shove into the downspout to push the debris all the way down. In the worst case scenario, you may have to detach part of your downspout and manually reach in to dislodge the debris.
Inspect for Water Drainage
Since you are running water through your gutter system, make sure that there are no leaks and that the downspouts are adequately running water away from your house. This is important to protect the integrity of your roof and your house, including its foundation from disastrous water damage.
Gutter Cleaning Tips for Multi-Story Houses
If your home has two stories or varying roof lines with gutter systems above and below, always start from the top and work your way down. During the debris removal process, you may unintentionally drop debris and won’t want to simply move it to the lower gutter system to be removed again.
Also, be very careful. Generally, it’s not a good idea to be home alone while cleaning your gutters in the event of a mishap. Safety first!
Get a Free Gutter Cleaning Estimate
At Ned Stevens Gutter Cleaning of Long Island, we are your local gutter cleaning and home improvement expert serving our Long Island customers with gutter cleaning as well as roof services, window cleaning, and pressure washing services.
We offer cost-saving gutter cleaning contracts that ensure you will never miss a gutter cleaning!
Contact Ned Stevens Gutter Cleaning of Long Island today for a free estimate.