6 tips for keeping your gutters clean

Water is your home's worst enemy, and along with your roof, your gutters are your best line of defence. But gutters and downspouts must be cleaned to work properly. Here are some handy tips.

6 tips for keeping your gutters clean

1. Beware of blocked gutters

  • They're worse than no gutters at all. Blocked gutters force water down along the side of your house.
  • Sagging, water-and-debris-heavy gutters can damage the fascia boards under your roof; and in winter, if you live in a cold area, collected water can freeze and crack downspouts and gutters.
  • Twigs and leaf debris represent a fire hazard and should be removed.

2. Clean gutters whenever they’re backed-up

  • Usually this is in the autumn, after the leaves have fallen; in the spring, after the heaviest pollen, flower heads and seeds have dropped; or after a very heavy downpour.
  • Wear heavy work gloves.
  • Use a ladder tall enough to reach the gutters safely.
  • Have someone on hand to hold the ladder, and to help move it each time you need to reach a new section.
  • Begin at the downspout and work your way to the other end, scooping the leaves and twigs that have collected there.

3. Make your own gutter scoop

  • Cut the bottom from an empty plastic bottle that has a rectangular shape.
  • Or just use your gloved hand to remove the gunk.
  • Don't scrape the inside of the gutters with any sharp tools because you might damage the metal.
  • If you need to scrape, try scrubbing with a nylon-bristled brush.

4. Flush the gutters

  • Turn on a garden hose once you've removed all the debris.
  • If the downspout is clogged, push the hose down to clear it.
  • If that does not work, try to push the hose into the pipe from the bottom end.
  • Dismantle the pipe if you have to.
  • As a last resort, you may need to drop a plumber's snake down the pipe. You can rent one at an equipment rental shop.

5. Make a gutter bucket, too

  • It's a handy tool to help with cleaning gutters, and it's easy to make.
  • Take a plastic bucket with an all-metal handle.
  • Using wire cutters, make a cut in the middle of the handle.
  • Bend each end of the handle into a hook shape, turn the hooks towards the same side of the bucket, and hang the bucket from the gutter.
  • Dump all the debris into the bucket, rather than dropping the mess into the shrubbery below.
  • When the bucket's full, climb down and empty it on your compost heap. Soggy, old leaves make a great garden additive.

6. Clean the outside

  • This will make them look clean and new and help keep them in good shape.
  • For removing dirt, mix 75 ml (1/3 cup) of laundry detergent with 125 ml (1/2 cup) of liquid soap and add to 4 litres (4 quart) of warm water.
  • To remove mildew and algae, mix75 ml (1/3 cup)of detergent, 125 ml (1/2 cup) of liquid soap with1 litre (1 quart) ofbleach with 3 litres (3 quarts) of water.
  • Use rubber gloves, wipe the solution on with a rag and rinse with a garden hose.
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