How to Keep Gutters Clean

Knowing how to keep gutters clean can save you thousands of dollars in home repairs. Clogged gutters can back up in a rainstorm, allowing water to flow under the eaves and into your home or causing erosion damage around your foundation.

How To Keep Your Gutters Clean With Regular Maintenance

Gutters and downspouts do a great job of directing water away from your house and foundation, but they can only do a good job if they are free of leaves and other debris. Here's how to keep gutters clean and downspouts flowing:

  • Keep an eye on the sky. Pay attention to the weather before you begin cleaning gutters. Make sure you're not looking at wind or rain on the day you clean, especially if you'll need to get up on the roof.
  • The right tools. You'll need a garden hose long enough to reach the roof, heavy gloves, a garden trowel, a tarp and a ladder tall enough to comfortable reach the gutters. The ladder should have a stand-off attachment so that the weight of the ladder doesn't crush your gutters.
  • Swept away. To begin, set the ladder up near a downspout and place the tarp on the ground under your work area (but not under the ladder). Begin removing debris, working away from the downspout. You can remove dry or larger debris with your hands, but for damp and smaller items, use the garden trowel to scoop debris out of the gutter. Drop debris onto the tarp as you work.
  • Flooding back. Once you have the gutter clean of debris, run the garden hose through the gutter to clean it of any leftover dirt and grime. Work from the end of the gutter farthest away from the downspout and work back toward the downspout.
  • Working a clog. If your downspouts are clogged with debris, run the garden hose up into the spout as far as you can. Have a helper turn the faucet on full and poke the hose into the downspout, using the force of the water to loosen the debris. If this doesn't work, try using a plumber's snake, also working from the bottom of the downspout toward the top.
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Gutter cleaning, care and maintenance are necessary if you hope to keep water damage at bay. Metal gutters should be cleaned several times a year and should be painted as needed. Plastic gutters can crack if ice develops in them during colder months. If you take proper care of your gutters, they will provide water protection for your home for many years.

Although water is a necessary part of sustaining life, when it arrives in large quantities and is allowed to build-up, this vital element can quickly become menacing.

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