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Clean Gutters and Downspouts

March 4, 2024

Clean Gutters and Downspouts

Keeping your gutters and downspouts clear is an important part of home maintenance. Clogged gutters can lead to water damage and other problems. In this article, I will discuss the steps for properly cleaning gutters and downspouts.

Why Clean Gutters and Downspouts?

There are a few key reasons why I need to regularly clean my gutters and downspouts:

  • Prevent water damage – Clogged gutters can overflow and leak water along fascia boards and foundations. This can lead to costly rot and mold problems.

  • Avoid ice dams – In cold climates, clogged gutters allow ice to build up along the eaves. This can cause ice dams which force water back under the shingles and into the attic.

  • Protect landscaping – Clear downspouts direct water away from the house’s foundation. Clogged downspouts spill water too close to the foundation which can settle and cause damage.

  • Maintain drainage – Gutters and downspouts collect and divert thousands of gallons of water per year. Keeping them clear ensures proper drainage and function.

When to Clean Gutters

I like to clean my gutters and downspouts at least twice per year. The ideal times are:

  • Fall – After all of the trees have lost their leaves. Removing leaves and debris prepares the gutters for handling winter precipitation.

  • Spring – After the last snow melts and trees have budded. This cleans out any debris from winter and prepares for spring rains.

I also check gutters after heavy storms any time of year. Spot cleaning might be needed if I notice any overflow or leakage.

Gathering Necessary Supplies

Cleaning gutters and downspouts requires some specialized supplies. Here is what I gather before starting:

  • Ladder – A sturdy extension ladder allows me to safely reach the roof line. I place it on a level surface and secure it before climbing.

  • Gloves – Good work gloves protect my hands from sharp debris and allow me to grasp wet leaves. Leather or coated gloves last longest.

  • Gutter scoop – A gutter scoop makes removing debris easier. I look for ones with long handles to reach far into the gutters.

  • Trash bags – I hang sturdy trash bags from each downspout to collect the debris. Bags that cinch closed at the top work best.

  • Garden hose – After removing debris, I wash out the gutters and downspouts with a hose. This ensures they are fully cleared.

Step-by-Step Cleaning Process

With my supplies gathered, I’m ready to get up on the ladder and clean out the gutters and downspouts using this process:

Clean gutters

  1. I put on gloves and safety glasses for eye protection.

  2. Starting at one end of the house, I scoop out leaves, sticks, packed debris, and sediment using my gutter scoop.

  3. I carefully place removed debris into a trash bag hung from the nearest downspout.

  4. I work methodically along the entire length of the gutters around the house.

Clear downspouts

  1. Once the gutters are cleared, I remove any remaining debris clogging the downspout openings.

  2. I take down the full trash bags and replace them with fresh empty ones.

  3. Using a garden hose, I spray down the inside of each downspout until water runs freely from the bottom.

  4. If a downspout is severely clogged, I push a plumber’s snake down the pipe to pull out compacted leaves and debris.

Finish up

  1. I check that all downspouts are draining fully without leaks or blockages.

  2. I rinse out the gutters one final time to flush away any last debris.

  3. Finally, I safely descend the ladder and haul away the full trash bags.

Preventative Measures

To reduce debris buildup and keep my gutters cleaner longer, I take these preventative measures:

  • Install gutter guards – Metal or plastic shields over gutters block leaves while permitting water flow. They require less frequent cleaning.

  • Use downspout filters – Filters attach to downspout openings to block debris but allow draining. I clean filters out monthly.

  • Trim overhanging tree branches – By pruning back nearby trees, I limit the leaves and twigs that can fall onto the roof and clog gutters.

  • Consider professional cleaning – For difficult homeowners insurance roof access, hiring a professional gutter cleaning service is an option.

Staying diligent and cleaning my gutters and downspouts in spring and fall has saved me from countless headaches. By following these steps and using the right tools, I can keep rainwater flowing properly through my home’s drainage system. Taking time for routine gutter maintenance protects my roof, foundation, and landscape from water damage.

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