Debris can build up in your gutters, causing damage to your roof, fascia, downspouts and foundation. A little time spent every spring and fall will keep your gutters working effectively all year long. It’s a good idea to clean your gutters after you’ve enjoyed a few dry days. Soggy leaves and twigs are heavy and more difficult to remove.
Here are some things you’ll need to get the job done: a tall step ladder, some buckets with wire hooks, a garden hose with a nozzle or gutter wand, a garden trowel, work gloves, safety glasses and perhaps a tube of gutter sealant. Your ladder should be placed on solid, level ground. The gutter level should roughly align with your waist, without climbing above the second-to-last step. For two storey homes, an extension ladder may be required. Hook your buckets into the top tray of your step ladder. One will carry your tools, and the other the debris you scoop out of the gutter.
You can scoop most of the leaves and twigs out with your hands. For caked in material at the bottom, use your garden trowel. Remove and clean any downspout strainers. Once most of the material has been removed, you can rinse the gutter with the nozzle on your hose, while standing on the ladder. Or you can attach a gutter wand attachment and stand on the ground while completing the job. Keep an eye open for leaks. If you find any, mark them with tape. Once the gutter has dried, make the required repairs.
If the water doesn’t drain, you probably have a clogged downspout. Remove the fastener, and then the bottom section of the downspout. That should allow you to spray water upwards into the pipe at full pressure. The jet of water will often dislodge any trapped debris. If that doesn’t get the job done, a plumbers’ snake should loosen the clog.
You might consider installing screens over your gutters. You should be able to find these at the local home supply outlet or hardware store. They’re easy to install and can keep much of the debris out, preventing future clogs. Measure each run of your gutters separately and take the measurements with you to your supplier. Thoroughly clean and repair your gutters, then follow the manufacturer’s instructions that came with your gutter screens.
Gutter screens typically slip under shingles or tiles, and snap over the front lip. If you live in a high wind area, snapping the screens into place may not be sufficient, and you may require some sheet metal screws to secure them to the lip. Some grit and fine debris will get through screens. Each spring and fall you can pop the screens out and give your gutters a quick rinse with a garden hose.