Griffin’s friendly Nipomo plumbing experts are prepared to help you protect your home this stormy season with practical tips to clean and maintain your gutters, safely and expertly.
Let’s start with why gutters are important. When it rains, gutters direct water runoff from your roof and away from your home. This protects your home’s siding, doors, windows, and foundation from harmful water damage.
In order for gutters and downspouts to get their job done, they need to be clear of debris, including leaves. If your gutters aren’t cleared of debris, they can dam up with rainwater which will overflow. This not only pulls the gutters themselves loose, but the water pooling up in the troughs will damage the gutters themselves. For example, if the gutters are made of sheet-metal, that volume of water could cause them to rust.
Typically, it’s a good idea to clean your gutters twice annually, once in spring and again in the fall. If your home is beneath great tall trees, or it’s been a particularly stormy season, we recommend cleaning even more frequently to be safe. Before we dive in to rain gutter cleaning tips, ask yourself these two questions:
Am I prepared to work safely from a ladder?
Is my home higher than one story?
If you answered no to those questions, we recommend hiring a professional to clean your gutters. Now, if you feel comfortable tackling this essential home maintenance chore yourself, here’s what you need to know!
You’ll want the following items on-hand before you begin:
Is it wet, windy, or icy out? This is not the time to clean those gutters. Working near power lines is not a good idea, and neither is standing on the top two rungs of your extension ladder. Also, be sure to wear appropriate shoes that won’t slip.
Let’s Do This – How to Best Clean Your Gutters
Now that we’ve covered the essentials and basic safety tips, we can dive right in to how to properly clean your rain gutters.
Make sure to wear your dust mask, goggles, and gloves to protect yourself while you clean. Sharp metal parts and screws often stick out of gutter troughs, so gloves especially are absolutely essential.
Lay out your drop cloth and bucket below your work space to collect falling debris.
Place your sturdy ladder on a level base. Be sure that it’s firm. If you must lean your ladder against a gutter, protect that gutter by placing a short piece of 2 by 4 inside it. When you stand on the ladder with your hips between the rails, resist the temptation to lean out and over the sides because that can be dangerous.
Before you clean the gutters themselves, use a rake or leaf blower to clear any leaves or debris from the roof. This will prevent your rain gutters from getting clogged again shortly after you clean them.
Now you can begin blowing dry debris out of your gutters with a leaf blower (or simply use a plastic scooper tool). Many of the gutter cleaning kits available come with parts that connect to a leaf blower.
1. Begin by scooping out loose debris (the plastic scooper tool comes in handy here). You’ll want to start scooping at a drain outlet at the low end of a gutter and work away from the drain outlet. It’s typically easiest to do this when the debris is slightly damp and not soggy or encrusted. To minimize cleanup, scoop debris directly into a plastic bucket.
2. Now blast out your gutters using a hose. Take advantage of the on-off high-pressure nozzle here to wash out each length of gutter, working toward the drain outlet. Know that this can be a messy job! If dirt or mud splatter on your home, a stiff scrub brush will help remove it.
3. On to clearing the drain pipes of any obstructions! If water doesn’t drain freely through your drain pipes, try flushing out what’s stuck using a hose.
How to Maintain Rain Gutters
- Know what you’re looking for. Are the downspouts affixed firmly against the fascia boards? You’ll also want to check downspouts for rust, flaking, or peeling paint, and most importantly, leaks.
- The slope of your gutters might need to be adjusted from time to time in order to keep water moving toward downspouts. Run water through them. If you notice that they’re slow to drain, reposition them so that they slope toward the downspouts at a rate of 1/4 inch for every 10 feet.
- Flushing gutters with a stream of water from your hose can clear material that’s become struck inside the troughs and downspouts.
- If loose dirt has found its way inside the gutters, use a stiff brush to scrub it out.
For more pro plumbing tips for fall, be sure to explore our vast library of blogs.