How to clean gutters and avoid blockages
- By: Ashley Saunders
- February 2020
Keeping your gutters clean is a dirty task but one that needs doing at least twice a year. But which is the best way to clean gutters and ensure you avoid blockages?
Your house’s gutter is more than a piece of plastic or metal. It’s a vital method of water control, which protects your roof, walls and foundations. And so, you want to check and clean them regularly to prevent other, more serious issues from developing.
Gutters can easily be clogged with fallen leaves, moss, twigs or other debris. Leaving it clogged will almost certainly result in water damage to your home, that’s pretty much preventable.
With a blocked gutter, rainwater will look for other methods to reach the ground. The water could pour down an external wall, making it damp. Your roof might retain the bulk of the water causing it to leak or bugle.
If a large amount of rainwater seeps into the ground, then you might have issues with damp or damage to your home’s foundations.
If you’re wondering how to clean gutters and avoid further issues, then we’ll cover your options.
When should you clean your guttering?
At the very least, you should clean your guttering twice a year, both in the spring and autumn. If you live near trees that shed leave or needles, then it’s worth cleaning your gutters more frequently.
After a big storm or heavy downpour, it’s worth cleaning them as blockages can easily build and create problems down the line.
Sadly, ignorance isn’t an excuse. Just because your gutters are hard to see, doesn’t mean they are clear and working effectively. You need to check a few times each year to be sure that you have clean gutters and rainwater can easily run to the ground and toward the main drain.
Basic gutter cleaning tips and tricks
While a relatively simple job, it is messy and you should feel safe being up a ladder. If not, either ask a friend or neighbour to spot you and hold the ladder, or ask them to do it for you.
An extendable ladder (like the AutoFu 5M Aluminum Telescopic Ladder) is ideal for a single or two storeys. Over this height, it’s best to get in the professionals as it becomes a health and safety nightmare.
Place the ladder against the wall, but not covering the guttering as this can damage it. You may want to use a standoff stabilise which fits onto the top of the ladders and protects the guttering.
Some like to use a groundsheet or an old sheet on the ground to collect leaves and twigs, although this isn’t entirely necessary.
It’s a good idea to wear waterproof gloves and shoes with non-slip soles. With someone holding the ladder, climb up it with a bucket. You may want to place a plastic garden trowel in the bucket.
Now for the hard work! Start scooping any debris up and into the bucket. You probably find mud, grave, leaves and insects, all semi-congealed together. It’s worth only partially filling the bucket so it’s not too heavy when you need to descend the ladder to empty it.
With your immediate section of guttering clean, move the ladder and start again. Unless necessary, it’s a bad idea to stretch too far as this increases the risk of failing.
Can I clean gutters with garden tools?
You could use a power washer (such as the Bosch EasyAquatak 110) as it should remove most of the debris with its powerful jet of water. Plus you can use the power washer to clear any blockages in your downpipes.
Should I use leaf guards?
While using a leaf guard will prevent some debris from getting into your gutters, you will still need to regularly clear them.
Deuba sells a pack of 4 downpipe trap guard which push into place and stop the majority of debris from reaching the downpipe.
Another solution is to use a plastic gutter mesh (such as Parkland® 5m Leaf Guard Protection System) guard which clips into place and doesn’t need screws.
If your guttering is near trees, then you might want to use cylinder-shaped bristles from Nisorpa. These plastic strips fill the gutter, preventing any debris from entering. They’re low maintenance and slot into place without the need for tools.
While you’re cleaning your guttering, it’s a good idea to check it for damage. Start by visually inspecting it, looking for cracks, bad joints and loose brackets. You’ll need to replace any sections with cracks or damage and fix dodgy joints and brackets.
Next, you’ll want to check for leaks. Either using a power washer or a bucket full of water, pour water into the gutter and look for leaks. This will also clear any remaining dirt and debris.
If you leave cracked pipes or leaks untreated, then you could be creating bigger issues that will be costly to fix. Regularly gutter cleaning and maintenance, therefore, is worth the effort.
Should I hire professionals?
There’s a range of reasons to hire someone else to ensure you have clean gutters. Maybe you have a fear of heights, live in a tall property, or have neglected your gutters.
Many window cleaners offer gutter cleaning services which are affordable and cheaper than a local roofing company. It’s best to get 3 quotes and choose the company who offers the best value for money rather than the cheapest.
Whoever you end up hiring, it’s worth asking them to inspect your gutters on the first clean. Ask them to look for damage or blockages. Having a better idea of the condition of your gutters, means you can solve any issues and prevent potential ones from developing.
So that’s how to clean gutters at home while preventing almost all blockages and decreasing the risks of other, more serious problems develop. It’s pretty simple!