How to Clean Your Gutters—Plus, Why It's So Important to Do So Regularly
From ladder tips to cleaning tools and more, here's what a roofing expert has to say about this important household chore.
Make no mistake about it: If left unattended, a blocked gutter can turn into a big roof problem in no time. "Gutters are designed to help water drain off your roof," says Zach Shoffner of Farha Roofing. "When they're clogged up with leaves and other debris, water has no place to drain, and so it goes back up and into the roof system potentially causing a whole slew of issues."
On residential roofs, Shoffner says this can mean water getting trapped under shingles, causing rot and leaks in your home. He says water can also spill over the side of your gutter, right down the exterior of your home and into your basement, damaging the entire foundation of your house. "The water on your roof system needs a place to drain and if those drains are clogged, then problems can and will arise," he says. Not sure how to clean a clog out of your gutter? We asked Shoffner for advice and here's why he had to share.
Check them regularly.
If you aren't cleaning your gutters at least twice a year, Shoffner says you're doing it wrong. "Depending on where you live, and whether or not you get a lot of big storms, you may need to check and clean your gutters monthly," he says. "It's a good rule of thumb to have them cleaned out before spring and around fall. Whenever you notice a large amount of leaves or tree debris on the ground from the fall or a storm, chances are your guttering has the same amount and could be clogged."
If you're not comfortable or experienced with getting on your roof, Shoffner says your safest bet is to call a professional. "Most injuries caused by ladders are due to infrequent use and users being uncomfortable using them fully extended," he says. "When in doubt, I would suggest calling a local roofing or guttering company for help."
Start in the middle.
If you are experienced in climbing a ladder to your roof, Shoffner says the best place to start looking for a gutter clog is in the middle of your guttering run. "Put your ladder in one spot in the middle of your guttering run and climb up to see where most of the debris is located," he says. "Then, you can move your ladder to where the debris is and remove it by hand, or with a gutter cleaning scoop, area by area."
Be prepared for larger clogs.
Shoffner says bigger clogs might require actually climbing on your roof, so you should take as much precaution as possible beforehand. "If your gutter is fully clogged, then climb on the rooftop and slowly walk the guttering and remove the debris," he says. "Since this is more dangerous, look to see if your rooftop has a tie off anchor for safety, and buy a harness at your local hardware store before you go up."
Try a pressure washer tool.
When all else fails, you can always employ a pressure washer to unclog your gutters in a pinch. A gutter-specific tool, such as the Power Care 3,300 PSI Gutter-Cleaner Attachment at ($27, homedepot.com), connects directly to your pressure washer so you can power clean from the ground with ease. Just make sure to measure the distance from the ground to the gutter run ahead of time, so you can ensure the rod is long enough to reach (or else you'll need to buy an extension rod).