Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cleaning Your Home's Gutters

Spring months are fast approaching and that means budding flowers, leaves on trees, and more debris in your gutters. Having a professional come clean your gutters might be a load off your mind, but it can be costly too. This may leave you considering cleaning your gutters yourself.

If you are comfortable attempting this process on your own, having the right tools and knowledge when it comes to cleaning your home’s gutters can make the process quicker, easier, and more importantly safer. There are several important steps you may want to follow when cleaning clogged gutters, but let’s start with the basics.

It is essential to have the proper materials on hand before attempting to clean clogged gutters. The following tools can help you avoid time consuming and frustrating extra steps when clearing your gutters.

* Bucket with handle, or trash bags in which to place clogged gutter debris
* Hose (long enough to reach the roof and surrounding gutters)
* Gloves (water proof may be preferable)
* Scraper (paint scraper or any similar tool will work)
* Ladder (an extension ladder with rubber shoe grips for added safety if available)
* Safety rope or harness for steeply sloped roofs

After you’ve collected your supplies, begin the cleaning process by ensuring your ladder is placed in a stable area near the downspout of the clogged gutter. Gather your bucket or garbage bags, scraper, and gloves, and head for the roof. Depending on the slope of your home’s roof, you might find it easier to work from atop the house. If this is the case, a safety harness or rope can be used for added safety.

Begin the cleaning process near the downspout of the clogged gutter and work away from that point do debris doesn’t get pushed down into the downspout. It’s important to note however, that if your gutters are full of water due to the collected debris, you might want to start at the far end of the downspout and work toward it (leaving a sort of dam of debris by the downspout to avoid water forcing all the debris into the downspout where it might jam.

Placing debris from your house gutters into your bucket or trash bag will make clean up easier, but can also make the process more dangerous. You may choose instead to toss debris directly from the house gutters onto the ground to be cleaned up later. Wearing gloves during the cleaning process will protect your hands from sharp twigs and debris that may be lodged in the gutter. Many downspouts and gutters have sharp, jagged edges, and clogged gutters can conceal protruding screws and metal shards.

While clearing your house gutters, use your scraper to dislodge any hardened debris from the bottom or edges of the gutter. Dirt, leaves, twigs, and shingle debris can collect to form a crust-like barrier, blocking water from draining properly. Once the majority of the debris has been cleared, it may be time for your hose.

A spray-handle hose attachment is handy to avoid climbing the ladder with the hose already running and having to avoid spraying yourself in the process. Such an attachment may also help add pressure to dislodge debris. Begin at the far end of the house gutter and work any left over debris toward the downspout. This “rinse” phase will not only clear smaller debris not collected on the first pass, but will also indicate whether the clogged gutter and downspout have been cleared. Depending upon the amount and size of “leftover” debris collected in your rinse phase, you might want to stop to collect it or just wash it down the downspout.

The weight and force of the water accumulating in the gutter above during the rinse phase will often clear a clogged downspout. If not, you may have several options.

* Use a hose, plumbers snake, or thin rod or pole to dislodge debris
* Gently bang on the downspout’s side with your hand near the clog, being careful not to damage it
* Dismantle that clogged section to clear

These tips will hopefully help make your next gutter cleaning session, a timely, safe, and relatively painless home project. And the main factor is safety. Cleaning gutters isn’t for everyone, and while it can save you money, if you aren’t comfortable with completing certain aspects of these or similar tips on your own and in a safe manner, it might be a good idea to consider hiring someone do complete them for you.

This article is for informational purposes only. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is at the reader’s discretion.


  1. Hmm, when fall is apporaching, my friends and I make sure that our gutters are clean. We even help each other in cleaning them. There's nothing to lose and there will be lot to gain, when you clean your gutter. If you don't want to clean your gutter, you can move your house far away from trees. LOL!

  2. Thank for this very informative article.Your insights about cleaning the gutter is really helpful.Thank you for sharing,commonly I consult professionals like "gutter cleaning Texas" so I don't have a problem.