How to clean gutters

Learn how to clean gutters so you can keep them from overflowing. This will help prevent flooding and water damage. On this site you can read tips and tricks and browse products that can keep you keep your gutters clean and debris free.

How to clean gutters, Interior:

Make it a point to look inside your gutters at least twice a year. (Typically in the Spring and Fall). If you find debris in them, just take a water hose and wash the debris down the downspouts. Be sure to disconnect the downspout from your underground drain line first. Occasionally, debris such as pine needles may need to be manually cleaned off. 

Choose a sturdy ladder, and place it on a firm, level base. A stepladder will be easier to use than an extension ladder. If you must use an extension ladder, protect the gutter by placing a ladder stand off on the ladder.

When cleaning gutters, wear heavy work gloves to protect your hands since gutters often have sharp metal parts or screw points sticking out. Also wear safety glasses or goggles.

Start cleaning from the downspout area first, since this is where the heaviest buildup usually is. Try not to let the debris fall into the downspout where it may become lodged. This is especially important if your downspout is connected to an underground drainage system.

If the debris in the gutter is not compact or matted and you have someone to help you, the easiest thing to do is vacuum the gutters out with a wet/dry vac. One person on the ground to hold the vac and the other person to vacuum out the gutters.

Encrusted layers of leaves and debris will need to be removed with a scraper. What I have found that works great is an angled paint scraper about 3 inches wide. It fits perfectly down inside a 5 inch gutter and the angle allows you to lift the debris out of the gutter.

While you're doing the semi-annual the gutter cleaning, this would be a good time to check the gutter for potential problems like loose or damaged gutter brackets, cracked or missing sealant, signs of leaks like rotten wood or stains.

How to clean gutters, Exterior:

For general exterior gutter cleaning to remove soil and stains, such as those resulting from industrial fallout, tree sap, insecticides or chimney fumes, use ordinary nonabrasive household detergent. 

The solution should be applied to the soiled surface by means of a soft rag, sponge, or soft bristle brush with a gentle rubbing action. Do not rub vigorously so as to create glossy areas over the satin finish.

A soft bristle brushes equipped with a long extension handle may be used to reach some of the higher areas. It is important that immediately following all washing operations, the entire surface be thoroughly rinsed with water.

To remove stubborn stains, use a heavy duty cleaner such as "Fantastic". Heavy soil deposits may not be removable in one application and may require repeated cleaning over some length of time.

Do not use cleaners containing abrasive particles, ammonia, solvents or paint removers for cleaning. These materials may soften or remove the finish.

There is no shame in hiring a professional to do the job for you if you do not know how to clean gutters or are afraid to do it. It is better to be safe in a situation such as this if you are uncomfortable cleaning your gutters yourself. 

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