A Cluttered Gutter is a Sad Gutter: 8 Tips for Keeping them Clean


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Water is your home’s #1 enemy and faulty or clogged gutters can lead to a myriad of issues.

If water isn’t being properly flushed away from your foundation, the canals can lead to cracks and settling. Your garden beds will also suffer as a result of over-watering.

Even more, a clogged gutter can cause water to back up into the fascia behind your gutter (the wooden trim that your gutter is attached to). The heavy debris left sitting in your gutters will lead to sagging in your gutters. Left unresolved, the wood will begin to rot and can even cause roof damage.

Additionally, decaying matter that has built up in your gutters is a breeding ground for pests. Birds and bugs love the damp environment the leaves present. And if left long enough, seeds can begin to germinate and actually grow new plants inside your gutter!

The bottom line is – you need clean gutters. Here are 8 tips for keeping your gutters clean.

1. Trim Surrounding Trees

This might seem like a no-brainer but it’s the first step in preventative maintenance for your gutters. The more branches that hang within close proximity to your house, the more likely you are to have leaves and debris fall into your gutters.

If you’ve ever lived near an oak or a maple tree, you know what happens when fall rolls around. Keeping these trees pruned is vital.

And while you’re up there, remember to rake off your roof to clear it of any existing leaves!

2. DIY Maintenance on Your Gutters

At a minimum, you should be investigating and clearing debris from your gutters once a year. If you live in an area with a heavier tree population, 2 times a year or even once a week in the fall could be necessary!

Cleaning gutters on your own is a smart and pro-active way to maintain your home’s functionality but it can be dangerous. Ladders are often heavy and unwieldy. If at all possible, have a partner assist you.

  • Wear rubber gloves and long sleeves
  • Using a small garden spade/shovel, scoop out the gunk (preferably into a waste bag)
  • Spray out any remaining debris with a hose
  • Scrape off peeling or cracking caulk. Apply new silicone caulk to seams. This will preserve a seamless gutter for the water and prevent leaks.
  • Make sure the downspouts are firmly in place and free of leaks

3. Professional Cleaning

If climbing ladders and heaving gunk to the ground doesn’t sound so appealing, it’s always beneficial to hire a professional company to clean your gutters.

Along with saving you the hassle and headache of a dirty Saturday afternoon, a professional gutter cleaning company can perform inspections and repair any existing issues before they become something much larger.

A professional can repair leaks, refasten downspouts and recommend if you need a gutter protection system.

Check out this page to schedule a consultation with a professional to make sure your rain gutters continue to flow freely.

4. Mesh Screen Caps

Mesh screens are one of a few ways that you can install low-maintenance gutter options.

Mesh screens are a plastic or metal grid affixed to the top of your gutter. This allows water to flow into the gutter channel while keeping larger debris out. Smaller particles will still be able to flow into the channel but the absence of larger leaves and debris will prevent substantial blockages.

You will have to perform occasional maintenance to clear away leaves that might be resting on top of the screens.

5. Foam Inserts

Another option is to install foam inserts inside your gutter canal. These are sections of porous foam (typically 4′ in length) that sit inside your gutters.

The advantage to foam inserts is that they’re out of sight. They do require maintenance, however, as leaves can still build up on top of them and will need to be cleared.

6. Surface Tension Hoods

Surface tension hoods are a rounded cover attached to your gutter that leave a small slit at the outer edge. Due to the properties of surface tension, water flows down the hood and under the slit, draining into your gutter. The debris then slides over the side of your gutter and onto the ground.

Small debris can still find its way so occasional maintenance will be required. Surface tension hoods are usually the most expensive of the three options and it’s recommended that they are installed by a professional.

7. Hose Attachments

For the DIY’er who’s not very keen on getting dirty, there are hose attachments available. Gutter cleaning kits can be found in many home improvement stores and online.

The curved nozzles spray down into your gutter canal to blast away that nasty sludge. A telescoping handle should provide you with sufficient reach for those high roof lines and for those who aren’t very comfortable climbing ladders.

While convenient, not all debris can be cleared with water. Physically removing the blockages is the only surefire way to know that your gutters are completely clear.

8. Leaf Blower Attachments

A final option for clean gutters is to use a leaf blower attachment. While hauling a leaf blower up a ladder is not recommended, these attachments make it feasible to blow out clutter from the ground. The 90-degree curve easily directs air into the gutter canal.

Just like with spray nozzles, this is not the most thorough way to clean your gutters. It can serve as an acceptable method to accomplish routine maintenance.

A Game of Prevention

As you’ve probably gathered by now, prevention is the name of the game. The process of keeping clean gutters is on-going.

There’s never going to be a “convenient” time to do it, so it’s best to schedule it at certain pivotal points throughout the year. Things might seem clean now but fall is coming, just like it does every year!

How well you stay on top of your gutter maintenance will determine if problems escalate into farther reaching, more serious issues for your home.

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