Cleaning your gutters is a necessary task, but it’s not something the average homeowner is excited to do. From handling dirt and debris to making sure you are using your ladder safely, the whole process can easily turn into a lot more than you bargained for. If you clean your gutters yourself, it can be tempting to put it off for quite some time.
However, it’s possible to simplify gutter cleaning at least a little. Specifically, it’s not always necessary to climb a ladder to clean your gutters, particularly if you recently had gutters installed or do keep up with regular cleaning. In fact, you may be able to remain on the ground the whole time if you have the right equipment. You have a few options for cleaning the gutters from the ground, depending on what tools you already have or are willing to rent or purchase.
Use Your Hose
The first and simplest option is to use a hose. Your garden hose, combined with a U-shaped gutter-cleaning attachment, can take care of minor gutter clogs. Just make sure your hose is long enough that you can reach all of your gutters.
To clean your gutters with a garden hose, just connect the attachment to the mouth of the hose and lift it so the other end is over your gutters. Turn the hose on gently and turn it up until the pressure is adequate. Start from one end of the gutters and work your way towards a downspout. Turn the hose off for a few minutes after doing each side of the house so the gutters have time to drain.
If your gutters aren’t draining, or if you see large chunks of material being flushed by the hose, your gutters are more clogged than a hose can handle. It’s time to get something more powerful.
Try a Power Washer
A power washer can be used in much the same way as a hose for cleaning your gutters. You can find attachments that work for cleaning gutters for most brands of pressure washers. The good thing about power washers is that they have more pressure than hoses can manage, so they can often shift clogs that a hose cannot. Also, if you decide to rent or purchase a power washer, you can use it to knock a few things off your to do list, such as power washing your deck. The tricky part about power washers is that they can generate so much pressure that they might actually damage your gutters if you’re not extremely careful. As a matter of fact, many homeowners are surprised to learn that power washers can damage concrete if you use too much pressure.
Give a Leaf Blower a Shot
If you’re cleaning your gutters during a dry spell, you can also try using a leaf blower from the ground to move dirt and debris. Many leaf blowers come with extension and curved attachments that can make this job a bit easier. If not, you can get these types kits at a local hardware store. When you return from the store, connect the extensions and the curved nozzle. Then, start at one end of the roof and move towards the other while blowing out the leaves.
Cleaning your gutters in drier conditions is preferable, as more dirt and debris will accumulate when there’s no rain to wash these smaller pieces away. Eventually, this can lead to the next rain overflowing out of your gutters and causing serious water damage to your house and foundation. Cleaning your gutters with a leafblower every so often during dry months will keep your gutters clear for the next storm or heavy rain.
Precautions to Take While Cleaning Gutters From the Ground
All of these gutter cleaning methods have a big downside, though: gravity. The gunk you remove from your gutters has to go somewhere, and it’s generally going to wind up falling relatively close to you. That’s why wearing the right protective clothing is important.
To avoid injury or having particles getting into your eyes, always wear protective glasses when cleaning your gutters from the ground. Whether you’re using a wet or dry cleaning method, it’s all too easy for things like dirt, leaves, small twigs and other debris to fly from the gutters and irritate your eyes. Safety glasses can prevent any related pain or discomfort.
For related reasons, wear sturdy, long-sleeved clothing. If you’re using a power washer or a garden hose, you may also want to wear a raincoat or other water-proof gear as well. By using a water-based cleaning method, you’re probably going to wind up getting wet at some point, so taking the right steps before getting started will make the process less unpleasant.
If you’re wanting to learn how to clean your gutters from the ground, you likely have other questions as well. Keep reading to learn how to fix a clogged downspout and how frequently you should be cleaning your gutters to prevent clogs and water damage.
Downspout Clogged? What To Do
A clogged downspout can be incredibly frustrating to have to deal with. Depending on how your gutters were installed, there may only be one downspout through which water can drain. That means a clog can overflow your entire gutter system simultaneously. Figuring out when your downspout is clogged will help you know when you need to fix it.
There are a few clear signs that your gutter downspout is clogged:
- No (or little) water draining from the downspout during a heavy rain
- Water overflowing the sides of gutters near the downspout
- Leaking seams in the gutters near a downspout
- Water stains near the roof by your downspout
- Sagging gutters around your downspout
If you spot one or more of these signs, there is a pretty good chance your downspout is at least partially clogged. While unclogging your downspout is something that can easily be handled by a handyman, some homeowners may prefer to try this on their own. If you go the do-it-yourself route, start by gathering these tools:
- Garden hose
- Garden hose gutter cleaning attachment
- Wet/dry vacuum
- Duct tape
- Handheld drum auger (for bad clogs)
The first step to unclog a clogged downspout is to see if you can push it out. You can use a U-shaped garden hose gutter-cleaning attachment for this if you use one to clean your gutters. Position the end of the attachment at the top of the downspout, and maneuver it inside the downspout opening if you can. Then turn the water on “high” to try to force the clog out.
You may need to wait a moment to see if this works. Depending on how clogged the downspout is, there may be several clogs to push out. Wait until water and the clog come out of the bottom of the downspout or water starts overflowing the gutters, then turn the hose off. If a large amount of debris comes out at one time, then you’re all set. However, if your gutters started overflowing, you should get out your wet/dry vacuum.
To keep working on this on your own, place the hose of the wet/dry vacuum at the bottom of the downspout. For added security, you can use duct tape to form a stronger seal. Run the vacuum and see what happens. Ideally, the clog will get sucked out, as well as water. This should solve the vast majority of downspout clogs.
The final do-it-yourself option for fixing a clogged downspout is to use a handheld drum auger. This is a long, flexible tube with a pointed end, designed to drill into stubborn clogs in plumbing. You can feed the auger up through the bottom of the downspout until it meets resistance, and then drill through the clog from the bottom. You’ll know you succeeded when water starts to drain.
If none of these steps work, it means that your downspout has a more serious clogged, and your best option is to contact a specialist to clear your downspout, as well as performing any needed gutter cleaning. Better still, these professionals will be able to help you prevent further damage to your gutters and can even take over routine gutter cleaning from you so you don’t have to deal with the mess and hassle that comes with the territory.
One way to prevent a variety of problems with your gutters is to have them cleaned on a regular basis. However, many people don’t know how frequently they should be performing this task.
How Often to Clean Gutters
Generally speaking, you should clean your gutters twice a year. Typically, once in the fall and once in the spring is sufficient. These are the times during which the most debris will accumulate. Fallen leaves, seeds and twigs will be dense in the fall, and birds may try to build nests in the spring.
However, you may need to clean your gutters more often. If large trees are on your property, your home will benefit from extra cleanings. Trained gutter cleaning professionals will be able to take care of these cleanings for you safely and efficiently if you don’t want to have to deal with remembering to take care of this yourself, or if you’d rather free up your time for activities you enjoy.
If you don’t remember the last time your gutters were cleaned, there are some signs you can look out for that will can that your gutters are clogged.
Signs of Clogged Gutters
If your gutters are clogged, you’ll probably start to see twigs and leaves peeking up over the edges. You may also see birds constantly on and around your roof, since clogged gutters are a prime nesting spot.
Of course, the most obvious sign of clogged gutters is the water overflow. If your gutters are clogged, water will not drain normally through the downspout. Instead, it will pour over the edges of the gutters or leak through the seams. If you see this happening, your gutters are likely clogged somewhere.
Clearing clogged gutters is important for your home. Not only does it stop birds from building nests in your gutters, but it also prevents water damage. Water damage due to a blockage can become a serious problem if it’s left unchecked.
If left for too long, clogged gutters lead to bigger problems, including:
- Water damage on the side of your home, including stains, puddles and foundation damage
- Mold and mildew building up in your walls
- Insect infestations, including potential termite damage
These can lead to expensive, difficult repairs, especially if the gutters remain clogged for a while. This is why cleaning your gutters regularly and keeping them unclogged is important, even if it may just seem like an easy home improvement project on the surface. If you don’t have the time to take on this task yourself, gutter cleaning professionals can help maintain your gutters for you.
ABC Can Keep Your Gutters Clear
Cleaning your gutters is considered a less than desirable chore for most people. Instead of trying to collect all of the right gear and getting covered in dust, dirt and water, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our specialists will be able to quickly and efficiently clean your gutters, so you have one less thing to worry about.