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7 Ways to Safely Clean Your Gutters

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It’s that time of the year: most of the leaves have fallen, and your gutters are due (or perhaps overdue) for a cleaning. Maintaining clean gutters is an essential piece of home ownership, as clogged gutters and downspouts can lead to sagging gutters, mold, leaks in your basement and the exterior walls of your home, and other damage.

There are numerous ways you can go about gutter cleaning, both from the ground and on an extension ladder. The key considerations to keep in mind are personal safety and how effective each method is, including knowing what gutter cleaning mistakes you want to avoid making.

To help you with exploring your options and making the right choice for cleaning your gutters before winter, here are 7 ways to safely clean your gutters.

1. By Hand

The first method is perhaps the best known: you safely place a ladder against your house, climb up, and remove debris by hand. Wear gloves and take a bucket with you to collect fallen leaves, pine needles, and anything else that might have ended up in your gutter. One preferred method many homeowners use is to remove sludge and debris with a small scoop, preventing damage to your hands.

Once you clear your gutters of all obstructions, you’ll want to flush your gutters with running water, which brings us to method two.

2. With a Garden Hose

Depending on how clogged your gutters may be, you might be able to sufficiently clean them with a garden hose. Doing so from a ladder can be risky business if you are working alone, so be sure to avoid tangles and resist the need to pull the hose from atop the ladder (doing so could shift your weight and lead to a fall).

A safer method for cleaning your gutters with a garden hose is to use a low pressure hose extension. The drawback here is that you are unable to see what you’re doing from the ground. This method can also be messy, so be sure to dress appropriately.

3. With a Vacuum

A wet/dry vacuum can be a powerful tool to help clear gutters of debris. You may need to purchase additional hoses and attachments to safely clean gutters from the ground, but the process is straightforward. Suck up as much debris as you can, and then flush the gutters with water to remove any lingering debris. Large debris may still need to be removed by hand.

4. With a Leaf Blower

A leaf blower offers portability, but you must practice extra caution with using one from atop a ladder. The power of a gas or battery powered leaf blower can be enough to push you off balance and run the risk of a fall.

Many leaf blowers come with a narrow attachment that produces a powerful stream of air, and this is a great option for clearing debris from gutters. Set your ladder up at the end of your gutter and point the leaf blower down into it, blowing the leaves and debris away. Similar to using a garden hose, you can expect a good amount of debris to fall to the ground and get all over the place, so be prepared.

5. With a Power Washer

If you have a low-pressure power washer, or extension, you can use it to clean your gutters. Some power washers have a backpack attachment, which makes it easier to control if you’re working from a ladder. Just be aware of the pressure to prevent yourself from getting off balance. To avoid the risk of damaging your gutters, be sure to safely use a low-pressure setting when spraying.

Using a power washer to clean gutters is especially helpful if your gutters are particularly dirty and there is a lot of buildup. The pressure emitted by a power washer is also great for clearing downspouts of debris.

6. With a Gutter Cleaning Applicator 

Gutter cleaning applicators are tools that are intended to be used from the ground, similar to the garden hose attachment we mentioned above. But just like that attachment, it can be hard to see the debris and buildup from the ground.

There are numerous gutter cleaning applicators you can use to clean both the interior and exterior of your gutters. Tongs are a great help for removing debris with an extension pole, and if your gutters are visibly dirty from the outside, a cleaning pad/system can help restore them.

This list of gutter cleaning attachments and tools, can also offer helpful solutions—especially if you want to safely clean your gutters from the ground.

7. Hire a Professional

Trusting in the expertise of a professional is often the safest way to go. When conducting a search for professional gutter cleaners be sure to properly vet any company you might consider hiring. Alternatively, you can go with a locally owned roofing company that specializes in roofing needs—including gutter cleaning and maintenance—like J&K Roofing

How to Prevent Clogged Gutters

The best way to prevent your gutters from getting clogged and possibly creating damage to your home is to check them on a routine basis. Look out for the following indicators of damage:

  • Cracks or splits
  • Sagging or pulling away from the roof
  • Water damage/water marks
  • Damage to the gutter paint
  • Rust
  • Pools of water
  • Mold

If You Have Gutter Guards, Inspect Them Closely

Some homeowners opt to install gutter guards, which filter out debris like pine needles and leaves. But if you are not careful or attentive, debris can get lodged between the gutter guard and the gutter itself, creating damage like water pooling.

Install Heat Tape to Prevent Ice Dams 

We recommend using heat tape to help prevent ice dams from forming. Heat tape is a weather-proof electrical cord that heats itself and prevents water from freezing in your gutters. Heat tape can extend the life of your gutters and eliminate the formation of ice and icicles in and around your gutters. You can find more tips for winterizing your roof and gutters here.

Set Up a Free Inspection of Your Roof & Gutters

Since 1984, J&K Roofing has served the greater Denver/Metro and the Front Range, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins areas. Get in touch with us today to schedule your free inspection and all your roofing needs!

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