Simple tips that make cleaning gutters a snap

July 27, 2015

Nobody loves to clean gutters, but the process needn't be awkward or time-consuming. To help make this unwelcome task easier, here are some time-saving tips you'll put to good use.

Simple tips that make cleaning gutters a snap

Inspect gutters regularly

A leaking gutter may cause water to seep into a basement and possibly weaken your home's foundation. What's more, water running down wood siding could potentially ruin paint and cause rot.

  • You'll need to clean and inspect your gutters once or twice a year, in the late spring and fall.
  • Begin by looking for blockages in the gutter channels and at the downspouts.
  • Check for leaks. They occur mostly at seams and rusted spots.

Install gutter guards

Gutter guards are an inexpensive way to stop leaves and debris from getting into (and clogging) your gutters. There are two kinds: metal mesh and perforated vinyl.

  • The mesh comes in a roll and is friction-fitted to the gutter. The vinyl shields clip onto the outside edge of the gutter and slip under the bottom row of shingles.

Check the gutter's slope

For water to flow freely, a gutter should slope down towards its downspout, at roughly half a centimetre for every metre of length.

  • Set a level on the gutter's front edge to check the angle.
  • Long runs may be raised in the middle to slant toward downspouts at each end.
  • Most gutters need supports at about every three-quarters of a metre.
  • If a gutter has standing water, it could be sagging. Correct it by bending or reinstalling a hanger.
  • If a whole section of gutter is not sloped correctly, call in a gutter installer to correct it.

Clean your gutters regularly

Cleaning gutters is a dirty job but not difficult. You should wear heavy-duty gloves because gutter edges and seams can be sharp and jagged. To clean:

  1. Attach a mesh bag to the bottom end of the downspouts. Leaves, twigs and other solid debris will collect in the bag as you clean. You can then dispose of it quickly and easily.
  2. Wrap the parts of your ladder that will touch the gutters with rags or tape to protect the gutters. You may also want to buy ladder stabilizers that put the full weight on the house, not the gutter.
  3. Scoop debris out of the gutters by hand or with a trowel. Start cleaning at the downspout end and move up. Mark any loose fittings or rusty areas with chalk for future repairs. Move the ladder frequently as you work.
  4. Finally, flush the cleaned gutter with a garden hose, starting at the high end.

Unclog downspouts right away

Downspouts, the vertical parts of a gutter system, can get clogged with leaves, twigs and debris. When water backs up and fills the gutter, you're simply asking for trouble, much like when the gutters are blocked.

  • Use a drain auger to break through any obstructions in the downspout, or flush it with a garden hose.
  • Thereafter, install a leaf strainer at the top of each downspout to help prevent future clogs.

While cleaning gutters can be a pain, with some simple tricks the whole process can be much easier. Set up some preventative measures and work safely. It will help ensure the job goes that much more quickly.

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