How to Maintain Rain Gutters
Water is damaging to your home and landscaping. The job of a gutter is to carry rainfall and snowmelt off the roof, into the downspout and away from the foundation. If either the gutters or downspouts are clogged with leaves and twigs, they won’t work well. Make it a priority to clean them out in the spring and fall, or whenever a heavy rain covers your roof in debris.
How to Clean Rain Gutters
To clean your own, you will need:
- A heavy duty ladder
- Leaf blower
- Heavy duty gardening gloves
- Safety goggles and safety mask
- A gutter scoop or garden trowel
- A garden hose with a high pressure nozzle
It’s also handy to have:
- Detergent and a sturdy scrub brush to loosen caked-on debris
- Plumber’s auger to clear stubborn clogs in downspouts
- A bucket to make your yard less messy when you scoop out the troughs
Once you have all of the necessary tools, you can get to work:
First, position the ladder so it’s level and on solid ground. Never place it directly against gutters, as they will warp or crack. It’s always a good idea to have a spotter beneath you.
Climb the ladder with the leaf blower and blow as much loose material as you can. This is why safety glasses and a safety mask are so important! If the debris is mostly dry, the blower can get most of it out. If it’s wet, use the scooper or trowel. Blast the remaining material with the hose. Take note of whether water stands; if so, you might have to have the gutters repositioned to improve the flow.
While you’re on the ladder, check to see that the gutters are fastened tightly to the fascia. Next, check to see whether water is running freely through the downspouts. If not, blast water from the top and bottom to try and flush them out. If there appears to be a stubborn clog, or if debris is catching on a joint, use an auger (plumber’s snake) to try and dislodge it.
Carefully check behind both gutters and downspouts for moist leaves that could rot out the siding. If there are any soft spots in the wood, moisture could be damaging your house. That’s the time to call a professional.
DIY vs. Pro Gutter Maintenance
Gutter cleaning is one task you can choose to handle yourself or hire a service. A professional cleanout by a roofer or handyman can range between $75 to $225 for an average home, according to Angie’s List. The cost depends on how many feet of channels you have, how tall the roofline is and how dirty the gutters are. A pro can determine if the angle of the gutters needs to be changed, can check for rot on the siding underneath the gutters, and tighten fasteners properly. If you are at all unsure of your skills on a ladder, you should definitely go with a pro. Make sure the company you choose is licensed and fully insured against accidents on your property – gutters can harbor bees, wasps, small animals and sharp objects.