Quick Tip: Cleaning Your Gutters

Whether you do it yourself or hire a pro, cleaning gutters is a critical task that can prevent future water damage.

By Bob Vila | Updated Jul 3, 2020 12:49 PM

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Cleaning Gutters

Photo: flickr.com

While it’s a job many of us would love to ignore, gutter cleaning is an important twice-a-year ritual all homeowners need to adopt. When clogged gutters overflow, they can cause ice dams on the roof that force water inside your house. They can also get so heavy that they’ll pull the gutters loose and rot the trim and siding. Even if your gutter doesn’t fill to overflowing each season, leaving any decaying debris in there is an invitation to carpenter ants and mosquitoes. If you have a lot of trees around your house, you might want to clean your gutters even more frequently.

Cleaning Your Gutters

There are lots of ways to do the cleaning. You can find inventions like tongs on an extension pole, shop vacuums with gutter nozzles or even a remote-controlled gutter-running robot. But most methods eventually involve getting on a ladder. If you have gutters above the first story or aren’t comfortable on a ladder, you’re better off hiring a pro.

DIY Gutter Cleaning

To clean your gutters yourself, wear gloves, a dust mask, and safety goggles. Make sure your ladder is well-footed at all times and use a ladder stabilizer, or stand-off, to keep from denting and damaging your gutters. Scoop the debris into a garbage bag with a garden trowel, then rinse toward the downspout with a high-pressure nozzle on your hose and scrub it clean. Try to avoid spattering the siding in the process. Next, clear the downspouts with a hose or auger. Installing leaf strainers at the drain tops will cut down on the large clogs.

Maintaining Your Gutters

When it rains, check for leaks and mark them with a china marker so you can patch holes or correct pitch problems when it’s dry. There’s debate about whether gutter caps or screens are worth the investment of up to $7 a running foot. Because nothing keeps all debris out, you still have to have your gutter cleaned every couple of years at least, and screens and caps make it much more difficult and expensive to do it.