8 Tips to Keep Clean Gutters

Dirty GutterMost people despise gutter cleaning. It’s an unwieldy chore that they try to put off as long as possible. But if you want to protect your foundation from runoff water, then it’s critical to the maintenance of your home. So here are eight tips to make this ordeal a bit easier.

1. Start with a good ladder. A freestanding ladder is fine if the ground around your home is level. But if it is not, then you’re probably better off using an extension ladder. Be sure to lean it against a solid surface and not the gutters themselves; otherwise, the gutters will buckle and bend.

2. Rethink your collection strategy. If you’re just removing gutter debris, tossing it onto the ground, and gathering it up afterward—then you’re essentially doing twice the work. Carrying a canvas or garbage bag with you while you clean the gutters is also cumbersome. Instead, try putting a bucket on a hook and attaching it to the underside of your ladder.

3. Cover your hands. Scraping out wet leaves and debris with your bare hands may not be smart, because your skin can catch on sharp metal edges. That’s why a good, broken-in pair of work gloves is recommended for gutter cleaning. After all, it’s aggravating to have to stop working and go get a bandage for a bleeding cut.

4. Use a scoop. If you aren’t enamored with using your hands, then invest in a gutter scoop to clean out your gutters. It’s basically a plastic spade that fits into your gutter to get all of the debris out. It’s best to find a gutter scoop with a handle that’s easy and comfortable to grip.

5. Invest in a gutter gadget. If you don’t mind spending a little money, then you can buy yourself a nifty gadget that can eliminate much of the grunt work involved with gutter cleaning. For instance, a gutter vacuum lets you use an extendable pole to suck dry twigs and leaves out of your gutter and into the base unit. Or you can fully automate the process with a gutter-cleaning “robot” which propels itself inside your gutters as you operate the remote control from the ground.

6. Apply (water) pressure. Another alternative to the scrape-and-scoop method is pressure washing your gutters. There are systems available that let you hold a telescoping wand and direct high-pressure water inside your gutters. If your gutters aren’t too clogged, a garden hose and a ladder might do the trick as well.

7. Unclog your downspouts. Squeaky-clean gutters don’t mean a thing if runoff water can’t flow through your downspouts. So, as part of your gutter cleaning routine, be sure to flush out your downspouts to eliminate clogs and blockages. If a stubborn obstruction won’t respond to water pressure, you may have to remove the downspout and use a long pole to unclog it.

8. Consider gutter guards. The most effective way to make gutter cleaning easier is to not do it at all. Installing gutter guards can help keep debris out of your gutters while allowing water to drain into and flow through them. Gutter guards may cost you some money, but you can’t put a price on the feeling of knowing you never have to clean your gutters again.