How to Clean Your Gutters

When your guttering is blocked, this can lead to a whole host of potentially very expensive issues. Instead of being redirected away from your home, water can spill over the sides, splashing onto your fascia and soffits, which can lead to damp, rot, and eventually holes in the façade of your wall. These can quickly become entry points for rodents and other pests, including wood-eating insects. Clogged guttering can go unnoticed for a long time, often until it’s too late – so it’s vital to check your guttering system regularly and keep them clean.

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Signs Your Gutters Need a Clean

Apart from obvious blockages and rising water levels, there are a few ways to tell your gutters need cleaning out.

These include seeing birds and other wildlife regularly moving around your guttering or roofline, which can indicate they may be nesting in the debris. Greenery can be another red flag, as it indicates that seeds and dirt are sitting in your guttering, a perfect habitat for weeds. Water can also accumulate at the foundations, eventually leading to soil movement, and potential structural damage due to cracks during freezing conditions.

Another major indicator is water spilling over the sides of your gutters, as the blockage has become so severe that water can no longer run freely. Due to the weight of blockages, guttering can even sag and bend in the centre, which not only prevents their proper function but can also lead to lasting damage. Any unexplained staining on the façade of your property is another clear signal that you need to clean your gutters.

How Often Should I Clean my Guttering?

The general advice by experts is that you clean your gutters ideally two times a year; once in spring and once in the autumn. However, if you live in an area with trees growing around and above your home, then you should consider checking and cleaning your guttering more regularly as your home’s gutters will be more at risk of blockages. You also shouldn’t limit the cleaning to twice a year if you notice the signs of blocked guttering inbetween this timeframe as the sooner you clean them out, the less problems will arise.

Generally, you should clean your guttering out at least twice per year. The best times for this are at the end of spring and the end of autumn. However, if you live in an area with lots of trees around and above your home, more regular cleaning may be required. Whether you intend to give them a good clean or not, inspecting your guttering every couple of months will allow you to keep on top of any blockages before they become serious.

Things to Consider Before You Clean Your Gutters

To ensure the best results, there are a few things you should consider before getting up the ladder.

  • Ladder Safety – Be sure to use a robust, extendable ladder that is completely secure. Safety is the priority in a job such as this, so ensuring you have a sturdy base is very important. Having someone around to help hold the ladder still is a great idea to keep you safe while you do the job.
  • Dressing Appropriately – Not only is cleaning your guttering a very messy job, but you never know what you may encounter lodged in your gutters. It is always best to wear appropriate clothing such as a long, protective shirt and trousers as well as protective rubber gloves. Safety glasses are also a good idea to prevent loose debris from getting into your eyes.
  • Tools – You don’t need specialist tools to clean your guttering. Just an empty bucket, a sturdy garden trowel/spade (or any tool that will help you scoop), a hose/ power washer and a stiff bristle brush will work just fine. Having a protective layer of tarp or large piece of material placed on the ground beneath you will help prevent debris from falling out of your gutters onto your plants.

How to Clean Guttering Using a Ladder

Climbing up your ladder and getting up close and personal with your guttering is the simplest way to clean your gutters.

  • First, place your ladder in a safe and appropriate position to provide the best angle to reach your gutters. You should ensure that your ladder is positioned on a sturdy and even surface, free from rocks or stones that could prove dangerous.
  • After climbing up, begin scooping the largest pieces of debris from your guttering into the bucket using either your scoop or your gloved hands. Work your way around the guttering to ensure every part of it is debris-free.
  • Once you have cleared all of the loose debris, flush out your guttering using water from your hose. It is a good idea to use a powerful spray nozzle attachment to create a strong water stream. Start at the end, moving down towards the outlet, watching closely to make sure the water is washing it out.
  • This is also a good time to use a gutter brush to remove any stubborn leftover gunk or grime that may still be stuck on your gutter.
  • If the gutters are clean but the water from the hose is not draining properly, you may still be left with an obstruction. In this case, turn your hose on full power and spray into the downspout to dislodge it. If the water is still not draining quickly, you can use a plumber’s snake to fully dislodge the obstruction and clear the blockage.
  • You can also use a stiff piece of lengthy wire to create a hole through the middle of the blocked debris. Then spray the hose water down and through this hole to help unlodge the blockage.
  • If your downpipe runs straight into the ground, an option you can take is cutting the base of the pipe, removing, and cleaning the debris out, and then re-attaching it using a socket or adapter.
  • Once the cleaning process is complete, it is a useful idea to test your gutters for efficient drainage and water flow. You can do this by spraying water from your hose down again. This is also an effective way of locating any cracks, holes, or leakages at the seams in need of repair.
  • You can also use this opportunity to clean the outside of your guttering, removing any gunk, mildew or mud stuck to the outer part of the gutters.

How to Clean Guttering Without Using a Ladder

There are also techniques that allow you to clear out your guttering without the need to get up a ladder.

  • One option to unblock your gutter with no ladder is using a specialist gutter cleaning tool. They usually are attached onto a long extension pole that can reach high up to your gutter, allowing you to clear the debris from the ground. You can also fix an attachment onto the end of a long painters pole, for example, to reach your guttering from the ground. This technique may be slightly more unreliable and time-consuming than the traditional method but is great for those who want to work ladder-free.
  • Another option is using a vacuum. This method is best for gutters filled with mainly dry pine needles, leaves and twigs which are easier to clear out. Specialist guttering vacuum systems with long extended poles are what you need for this method although this can be more expensive if you are looking to conserve your money.

Next Steps

Once your guttering is clean and debris-free, there are steps you can take to help keep your gutters as clear as possible, reducing the frequency of your cleaning.

Leaf guards or gutter guards are a brilliantly practical component that cover your guttering, letting water flow whilst sifting out debris. There are five main types of guard that you can install: Hedgehog, reverse curve, foam, nylon, and mesh.  Others also include metal hole plates and micro-mesh guards. They are relatively easy to install and can make a real difference in how often you need to get up your ladder.

Another tip to keeping your gutters debris-free, is ensuring that trees overhanging onto your roof are trimmed back to prevent twigs, leaves, needles, and seeds from falling down and creating inconvenient blockages in your guttering.

If you’ve discovered any cracks, splits, holes, or other leaks in your guttering whilst cleaning, it’s vital to address these right away. Read our guide to fixing leaking gutters to learn more.

Conclusion

Keeping your guttering clean not only ensures that it works effectively, but it will help to prevent issues that can quickly become very serious and expensive in the future. Browse our range of guttering supplies now.

If you have any more questions about what how to clean your guttering, get in touch with our award-winning customer service team. They can be reached via telephone on 01295 565 565 or the live chat on our website.