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How to Guide to Cleaning Gutters

man on top of roof cleaning gutter

A gutter is a channel that allows rainwater from the roof of a house to flow out. It’s an essential addition to any home as it reduces the chances of your house having damp issues due to the penetrated water and moisture. Gutters filled with debris and leaves can cause a lot of problems. Ensuring that they are ever clear and clean will protect your windows, house foundation, and doors from water damage. In addition, they will also help in preventing flooding in your basement.

In this guide, we shall discuss how to clean and maintain your gutter, the tools to use, and how to dispose of the debris.

Gutter cleaning may come off as a simple task, but there are many things to consider, for example, the equipment, safety gear, and the best time to clean your gutter.

The best time to clean your gutter

Generally, it’s advised to clean your gutter once every year. However, if your area has many birds and trees, it’s recommended to clean your gutters twice a year. This is because of the leaves, flowers, pollen and twigs which would have fallen off. When considering when to clean the gutters, check your season. Just a week after autumn has ended, the beginning of spring is typically the best seasonal time to declutter your gutter.

How to clean your gutter

Basically, during a storm, rainwater hits your roof, runs down and gets to your gutter. Then, the water is transported along with the horizontal guttering system up to the connected pipe, where the water runs down the drainage system you’ve set up.

If there is any issue with your gutter, either leaking or cluttered with dirt, the rainwater can easily find its way into your walls or even down into the foundation. This could cause mould and dampness. It’s worth noting that cleaning gutters is a challenging and nasty job but has to be done to avoid unnecessary damage to your building.

Step 1 – Get a ladder.

This will help you to reach your gutter and evaluate the amount of dirt and debris. However, if you’re afraid of heights, it’s best to consult a professional to avoid accidents or poor cleaning.

Get a starting point and identify your endpoint to understand better how your cleaning shall progress.

Before going up the ladder, ensure that the base is on firm and solid ground. Most importantly, do not be tempted to place your ladder on a slope or grass as it will be unstable, causing you to fall.

Step ladders are the most common and safe as they offer double support on the base. However, if you don’t have a stepladder, you can use a straight ladder to have better bottom support. Additionally, you can use a ladder strap to secure your ladder.

Step 2 – Clear your gutter.

With your ladder well secured, have a bucket well attached to your side. This will ensure your tools are within reach.

Also, ensure the debris is easily accessible, as overleaning on your ladder can make you lose your balance.

Take out your waterproof gloves. As much as you will be handling dry leaves and twigs, there are always some sludgy leaves.

You can choose to scoop out the dirt using a scraping tool or a trowel.

The easiest way to get everything out is by scooping as much dirt or debris towards you as possible then placing it in either of these two options, namely;

  1. Bucket – This is a great option, especially when handling wet leaves. In addition, they are much safer as they become more filled with dirt. But unfortunately, they become tricky to position and hold securely.
  2. Trash bags are best for carrying dry leaves as they are lightweight and can be easily tied at the end of the ladder.

Don’t be tempted to overreach as pushing too hard may damage your gutter as some parts may be fragile because of being exposed to elements like rain and sun rays.

Finally, work on a small space as you move to ensure all parts are well cleaned.

Step 3 – Wash down your gutter.

After clearing out most of the debris and mud, it’s time to clean out your gutter. There are three ways you can use to clear your gutter completely;

  • A specialist gutter cleaner – is a long pole with a hosepipe attached at the end. It’s usually used to clean the gutter from the ground and bends at an angle of 180°. Despite being quite handy, they may miss some spots as you are not in clear sight of the cleaned areas.
  • Using a bucket – You may lack a hosepipe; therefore, you must do the cleaning manually. First, get down your ladder and fetch water from your main water point, then carefully go up the ladder and gradually tip the bucket from one end of the gutter. The debris will wash down the pipe, but it will take longer to complete the cleaning as there is no constant water flow.
  • Use a hosepipe – This is generally the most preferred way of cleaning the gutter as it provides a constant flow of water. However, it’s also essential to note that you should work with the slope and not against it when pouring water. This will ensure every dirt on the way is cleared.

Step 4 – Inspect the draining pipes.

Now that the vertical gutters are clean and clear, it’s time to pay attention to your downpipes. This is the only path that the collected water from the gutter runs through. After cleaning, some dirt will be stuck in the pipes.

Over time, if it’s not cleaned, there will be a buildup that will eventually lead to blockage. Some of the signs that your pipe is blocked include:

  1. Absence of water running down the pipe.
  2. A slow drip of water after a heavy downpour.
  3. Debris at the mouth of the pipes that let out water slowly or none at all.

However, if there is no blockage, water will flow out easily after cleaning.

How to unblock gutters and downpipes

It’s not uncommon to have blocked gutters and pipes, more so if the area you live in has a large tree cover and the presence of birds. These are some of the hacks you can use to clean your system;

  1. You can try exerting pressure by pouring water down the pipes to flush out the debris. This process should quickly get rid of the blockage, especially light residue.
  2. If the pipes are still blocked, you can take them down and assess the extent of the blockage, depending on the location of the pipes. Most downpipes can easily be unscrewed and let out from the running outlet. However, if it’s impossible, you can cut off the pipe near the base, clean it and then reattach it using a socket or an adapter.
  3. Climb onto your ladder and access your clean gutter. Check for cracks, joints or splits that are not well sealed. It’s usually recommended to replace the gutters, but some sealants can be used to provide temporary relief.

What to do with the debris

After cleaning the gutters, you will end up with a lot of dirt, like dry leaves and twigs. It can be gathered together and placed at the end of your compound to decompose. However, the wet sludge can be compiled together and disposed of in a trash can as it can mess up your compound.

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