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How to Clean Rain Gutters

How to Clean Rain Gutters


Home rain gutters need to be regularly cleaned and maintained to ensure they continue to work properly. that they be cleaned twice a year – once in the early spring (before the spring rain comes), and again at the end of autumn (after the leaves have fallen). While there are some cases when we recommend a professional service, Rain Gutter Cleaning is often a pretty straightforward, DIY task.

Cleaning your gutters will require a few tools:

  1. Gloves. Not only do they help keep your hands clean, they also protect your hands from sharp edges.  Either rubber gloves or standard work gloves should be fine.

  2. Ladder. Ensure that the ladder is steadily balanced and properly anchored before climbing.  See below for further ladder notes.

  3. Garden hose with jet sprayer. After removing debris, a garden hose and jet sprayer is necessary to remove any remaining dirt.  Be careful, however, when taking the hose up the ladder.

  4. Stiff scrub brush. If you have a lot of encrusted mud on your gutters, you may need something to properly clean it off, as a garden hose might not be enough.

  5. Gutter scoop. Available for purchase at most hardware stores, a gutter scoop is perfectly shaped to fit inside your gutters easily scoop out debris.  If you’re unable to locate a gutter scoop, a garden spade or a child’s sand shovel can also work. Failing that, hands are effective for larger debris.

Note: in some cases a Plumber’s Snake may be needed. See below for details and special care required for unique gutter materials.


A note about ladders:

  1. If gutters are in good shape, they should handle a ladder leaned directly against them.

  2. Corroded/damaged or coated with a sensitive paint job gutters are not stable. We recommend investing in a ladder stabilizer (a.k.a. painters wings and a ladder horn) to keep weight off of them. If the gutters are in truly bad shape, you may consider changing them entirely.

  3. When possible, try to center the ladder onto gutter spikes to minimize the chances of damaging the outer gutter wall.

  4. Be mindful of how easy it is for an aluminum ladder to slide across metal gutter surfaces, potentially damaging paint jobs or–more seriously–causing a fall.


Cleaning Procedure

The actual act of a routine gutter cleaning is fairly straightforward. Here are the simple steps:

  1. Scoop out loose debris.  Typically it’s best to start at a drain outlet and gradually work away from it.  The best time to scoop is when the debris is slightly damp and therefore pliable, rather than completely when it’s soggy or conversely, completely dry and crusty.

  2. Use a hose to wash out the gutters.  Using the jet sprayer, wash out each length of gutter, spraying toward the drain outlet.  Be careful as this job can be messy – and muddy!  As mentioned above, if you have encrusted mud that won’t come off with the hose, a stiff scrub brush should do the trick.

  3. Clear drainpipe obstructions.  If water doesn’t come down the drainpipes freely, try using a house to flush the debris down the pipe.  If that doesn’t work, then a Plumber’s Snake can be used to either pull the debris from the bottom or push it through from the top.


When to Call a Professional

Although there are many people who clean their own gutters, there are also many who hire a professional to do it for them. Below are some situations where you might want to call a pro:

  1. Procrastination. Are you the type of person who puts off things that don’t appear urgent? Cleaning gutters can be an arduous task, and if they appear to be working properly it can be tempting to put off cleaning them for ‘just one more week’. But without regular maintenance, gutters can fail, leaving you with costly water damage.

  2. Time. Not everyone can easily set aside several hours to devote to gutter cleaning. Hiring a pro ensures that the job gets done in a timely fashion.

  3. Safety. Simply put, working high up on a ladder – especially if it’s not something you’re accustomed to – is dangerous. Every year, thousands are admitted to hospital emergency rooms due to falls. A professional who is familiar with the type of work and knows the hazards is simply better suited to do the job.

If you would like to have more information, take a look at our main service page.

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