Seasonal cleaning, also known as spring cleaning, is something we all don’t look forward to but has to be done to maintain the house and to keep good hygiene. One of those hard cleaning jobs is the cleaning of gutters. It’s not always ideal to climb up a ladder and reach every bend and corner of the gutter from an awkward angle, as this is dangerous for many reasons. If you’ve been thinking of better ways to get your gutters clean, and thought that you could do with some tips and tricks to make your life easier when cleaning gutters, you’ve come to the right place. We have compiled for you some hacks which you’ll be able to use next time you’re cleaning the gutters.
Table of Contents
In this article, you will learn about:
- Why Clean Gutters?
- How to Tell When Gutters Need Cleaning
- Why Do Gutters Get Dirty?
- Best Ways to Clean Gutters
- How Professionals Clean Gutters
- How to Maintain the Gutters in the Future
- Tools for Gutter Cleaning
Why Clean Gutters
Although it is hard, gutter cleaning is an important job that should be done once or twice a year. A general recommendation is to do it in late spring and autumn, as this is when gutters are more accessible and it’s safer for you. It is important to keep the gutters clean because they protect the foundation of houses and also landscaping and sides. If you have trees hanging over the roof of your house, you must make a point of cleaning your gutters more often. A good tip is to clean them if there it has been windy or there has been a rainstorm. It also depends on what part of the country you live in. If, for example, you live North in the UK, you may find that you need to clean your gutters more often (some do this at least 3 to 4 times a year!). It is because those areas experience more rainfall and winds than the lower parts of the country. The reason why it is recommended to clean gutters at the end of spring and late in autumn is that by the end of spring, there will be a lot of flowers and pollens etc in the gutter runs. So, it is advisable to clean them at that point so that they can stay clean for a longer time. The same rule applies for cleaning gutters in late autumn, as the leaves and sticks may clog up the gutters, so it’s better to clean them at the end of the season so that they can stay clean up until your next gutter cleaning spree.
How to Tell When Gutters Need Cleaning
The obvious answer would be to climb up the ladder and inspect the situation. But there are always some tell-tale signs on the ground too, which will give you an indication of when it’s time to clean the gutters. Some of the signs to look for are:
- Bird Nest in The Gutter Run: You can tell if a bird family has become your frequent visitors lately and if they have formed a nest in the gutter. This is because the gutter is blocked and there is little or no water going thought it, which is why the birds have made it their home.
- Water Spillage Over the Sides: If during rainfall, the water is spilling through and over the sides, this means there is a major blockage in the gutter which is stopping the flow of water through it.
- Staining on the Walls: If the exterior walls of the house have stained with dampness or watermarks, this is a clear indication that your gutter needs a good clean.
- Sagging Gutters: When the gutters visibly look old and saggy, it means they have become very old and are failing to perform their job properly. It might be time to replace them.
- Plants and Weeds: This is another clear sign which can be seen from the ground. If there is plant or weed grown in the gutter run, it means they need to be cleaned as this unwanted growth will make the flow of water through the gutter slower.
Why Do Gutters Get Dirty?
You may be wondering how a tool designed to remove excess water can get dirty. The answer for this is because the gutters get filled up with leaves, small branches or sticks and debris over time. This can cause clogs in the gutter, which will ultimately result in water getting inside the roof and eventually seeping into the foundation of the house. Blocked gutters are unable to perform efficiently and therefore they can cause ice dams in cold weathers. The logic behind cleaning gutters is the same that is applied to other cleaning equipment that we have to keep them clean to make them more efficient. For example, a hoover, if not cleaned or emptied regularly will not do its job of taking the dust in and will become inefficient. Similarly, for gutters to perform well they must be cleaned regularly or at least twice a year. Now that we know it is an important job, let’s have a look at some of the best ways to clean gutters!
Best Ways to Clean Gutters
Safety First Nothing is more important than your health and safety. Any job done right can go wrong the minute you take a risk which may result in causing yourself an injury or damage to the property, so it’s always best to put safety first. Gutter cleaning can be risky as it involves climbing up the ladder while carrying tools, therefore all necessary precautionary measure must be taken into account before you begin. Remember, nothing is worth risking your health for! Some of the things that you must consider doing when planning to clean gutters are:
- Wearing gloves to protect your hands from twigs and splinters.
- Wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt so that your arms remain protected.
- Safety goggles, to protect your eyes from small particles such as sprinters. This is more important when you are cleaning from the ground as everything is likely to fall on you from above.
- Use an extendable ladder which has standstill stabilisers.
- It’s always safer to use a ladder rather than climbing on top of the roof.
- The best time to start cleaning gutters is by midday so that all the frost has been lifted and the gutters are dry, and you’ll not risk getting caught with the sun going down.
Examine the Gutter Once you have done all the preparation, the next thing you need to do is to climb up the ladder and examine the current situation of the gutter. It might be better or worse than you thought it would be, so be mindful! Look at what needs to be cleaned, is it just leaves and twigs or is there a lot of clogging that needs to be cleared? This is an important step as you can determine what sort of tools you will need at this step. Clear the Roof One of the best ways to clean gutters is to start by clearing the roof first. If there is any debris on the roof, it will fall off again in the gutters so it’s best to clean them first and get it out of the way.
Leaf Blower or Scoop Use a leaf blower or a scoop to take out the leaves from the gutters. The advantage of using a leaf blower over manually removing leaves is that you will not have to remove the debris by hand and it will also be quicker. You can use an extension kit with your leaf blower which can bend into curves and you can even clean the debris and leaves from the ground. If you prefer to clean the leaves by hand, you can use a plastic scoop or spatula which will serve the purpose too. Water Hose or Jet Wash Now that you have cleared all the visible leaves and twigs, you may want to clean the gunk and natural glue sticking at the bottom of the gutters. The best way to do this is to use a jet wash. Alternatively, if your gutters are not very dirty, you can use a normal house water hose. A U-shaped attachment can be adjusted at the end so that it can reach the gutter without you having to climb up. The benefit of having a bending attachment means you can clean the gutters from the ground. It is a messy job so be ready to get dirty. Special Gutter Cleaners The gutter cleaners are a machine specially designed for cleaning gutters from the ground. It is made up of a long hose at the end of which a spray-like device is attached which is in the form of a curve. This curve bends over the gutter and the water can reach the gutter directly. This is very practical and easy to use device, however, since you are unable to see the situation in the gutter while standing on the ground you might miss on some clogs and stuff. Clean the Downspout The best way to clean gutters is to start at the far end and move towards the downspout. A lot of gunk will get into the downspout and onto the ground. This process may even make your windows and patio dirty. Make sure to remove all outdoor furniture out of the way before you do this step. Once the gunk reaches the other side, clean the downspout with water. If you notice the gunk is not going out or there is a blockage in the spout, use a plumber’s snake to clear the spout and rinse it off. This should resolve the issue easily. However, if you do not have the tool, another way of unblocking the downspout is by taking it out. Simply unscrew from the wall and take the pipe part out, before using a long stick or something similar to unblock the pipe. Once done, you can then fit it back in. The best way to check if there is a blockage in the downspout is to see if there is some water at the end of the spout that doesn’t go away. This means that there is water trapped in the spout which is dripping out slowly. Another way of check for clogging is to tap the spout gently with a tool such as a screwdriver, the clear areas will give a hollow and echo sound. The area where the clogging is will give a dull thud. Dispose of Debris Have a plastic sheet in place before the gunk starts coming out from the roof. If the debris is dry you can easily sweep it away and put it in the bin. However, if the debris is wet, it’s always best to have a plastic sheet underneath to protect your patio or driveway from getting dirty. Go Opposite of Downspout If you think cleaning the gutter towards downspout is messier, you can do the opposite too. Start at the end where your downspout is and move up. For this method, you will need to keep a big bin bag at hand and dispose of off all the gunk and debris into the bag as you go along. You can also use a plastic bucket for dumping the debris and it can be emptied in a bag afterwards before being thrown in the bin. Using a bucket will be easier as you will have to hold the bag with one hand while placing the debris into it with the other hand, all while standing on a ladder. As you start, the bag may be blown away if the wind is strong. Therefore, a light-weight plastic bucket with a handle is the easiest and safest option. This can be clipped onto your belt or placed on the roof for easy access and giving you both hands to work with. To make things even easier, pop a plastic bag in the bucket like a bin liner so that when the bucket is full you can simply take the bag out and dispose of it, this way you will save your time for taking the debris out of the bucket into a bag. Wet/Dry Vacuum If you think this whole process is not your cup of tea then you can make it very simple for yourself by using a dry/wet vacuum. This vacuum will take in all the debris from your gutters and you will not have to handle the mess afterwards. You can simply empty the vacuum to get rid of the debris into a bin. This can also be used with an extendable curved attachment so you can use it from the ground. Get Help From the Experts: If you do not have the expertise or time to carry out this task by yourself, you can always hire professional services. Perfect Plumbers have years of experience of dealing with gutter cleaning and can help you by cleaning your clogged up and dirty gutters in no time. You can get an appointment by simply giving us a call and we will be happy to help you out Ladder Hooks or Coat Hanger The best way to clean gutters is to make it as safe as possible. One of the things you may want to invest in to make the procedure even safer for you is to buy ladder hooks. These hooks can be attached to the ladder where you can hang some of your tools, such as a bucket so that you can be hands-free. If you don’t want to invest into a ladder hook then a DIY alternative to this is a wired coat hanger. Bend the wired hanger from the middle and twist this side into one of the rungs of the ladder. The hook on the hanger can be used to hand tools. To make it stronger, use two wired hangers and twist them together. If you are considering doing this method, please be extremely careful. We do not condone this and believe that the appropriate tools should always be used. Damage Repairs Climbing up the ladder is the best way to clean the gutters, not from the ground. The reason for this is when you climb up you can easily access the situation of the gutters first hand. You can see how they need to be cleaned and understand the right tools to get the job done, rather than guessing from the ground. Another advantage of this is that it gives you the perfect opportunity to see if there are any damages in the gutters where water can seep through the gaps into the roof and foundation of the house. If so, you should make plans to repair the damage before it gets worse or get expert help. At Perfect Plumbers, we not only give you the best gutter cleaning service but we also help you to access your gutter damage situation and provide repairs at competitive prices. The things you need to look out for are, joints, dislodged or poor sealing and cracks etc. It is not uncommon to have damages in the gutter runs. This can occur when PVC joints are contracted and expanded due to changes in the weather. The joints can thus be cracked or become loose. If this is the case, you can tighten the joints by hand. Or check the rubber seal around the joints is intact and not damaged. If there is any sign of damage, it must be replaced to avoid any risk of leakage in the future. If you can’t fit in the joints by hand, you can also use some of the equipment available commercially. There are a lot of options out there available for roof repairing. If you are not confident in doing this job yourself, you can hire the help of the professional services. We at Perfect Plumbers can help you with any of your roofing issues. We have the right tools with which we can resolve any of the roofing problems from loose joints to cracks and leaks in no time.
How Professionals Clean Gutters
Cleaning gutters is a job that requires experience and confidence. If you are not sure of any aspect of your gutter cleaning spree, it’s best not to take any chances and hire the help of professional gutter cleaners. If you are not confident of climbing up the ladder or have any restrictions that prevent you from doing so, or if you don’t have the right equipment to carry out the task on your own, the professional gutter cleaners can do it for you. There are many reasons why hiring professional gutter cleaners might just be the best option for you. Right Tools Professional gutter cleaners have the right tools to carry out the task of gutter cleaning efficiently. They have experience in cleaning gutters and know their job fully well. When it comes to removing the hard debris in the gutter run, they have the perfect powerful tools which will make the process easier, rather than when we do it ourselves using hands or even water hose. At Perfect Plumbers, all our tradesmen are equipped with the finest quality tools which ensure that we carry out our job perfectly. Quicker Manual Work Professional cleaners are far quicker and faster even for manual work. This is because they have done this job more often than you may have, which means that hiring professional services will save you time and give better results too. Our team at Perfect Plumbers are fast, efficient and reliable, making sure they give you the best outcome with minimum time. Best Installation When it comes to removing, replacing or installing gutters or protective devices, your best option is to hire professional services. If your gutters are old and damaged, it is best to replace them with new ones. Perfect Plumbers can help you with any job regarding your gutter replacement and installation. We can also remove your old, broken and rusted gutter run for you and install the new gutters in. We are also happy to install your gutter guards and protective equipment for you. IVY Removal At times, ivy growth near or on your roof and gutter can be a serious issue. It can block and soil your gutters more often. If you are in a similar situation where an unwanted ivy growth is taking over your gutter and roof then professional gutter cleaners can help you to resolve that problem too. We at Perfect Plumbers can provide you with a solution for unwanted ivy growth. Cleaning the Outside of the Gutters Not only the inside but cleaning the outside of the gutters is also important. Professional gutter cleaning services provide you guttering cleaning from the outside too, so that the exterior of your house looks clean and immaculate all over. Perfect Plumbers will provide you with a thorough gutter cleaning service from inside as well as outside. Roof Cleaning Roof cleaning is often overlooked, but the fact is it is also an imperative part of gutter cleaning. If the roof is unclean, the debris and gunk will eventually fall into the gutter making it unclean again. Most professional gutter cleaners will give you roof cleaning too so that your gutters can stay clean for longer.
How to Maintain the Gutters in the Future
Once you have cleaned the gutters you would like to keep them clean for a long time as it is not the easiest job in the world. Although maintaining clean gutters may require some additional work, it will save you from a lot of hassle in the future as your gutters won’t become as dirty as they would be if they hadn’t been cleaned. There are a lot of options and tools available which you can use to keep and maintain the gutters clean for a long time. These products prevent leaves and organic waste build up in the gutter hence, preventing them from getting gunky and dirty. Some of the options to be considered are: Sponge Gutter Filters An easy way to keep the gutters clean is to fit in a sponge or foam filter. This is a long piece of sponge that prevents leaves and twigs from settling in the gutters. It is made up of sponge so obviously, water can still easily pass through and go down into the downspout. This method is quite efficient however, one must bear in mind that over the years, it will still gather tiny particles such as small sticks and dust, that will make the flow of water through the holes in the sponge slower. Another thing to be aware of is heavy rainfall. During the season when the downpour is frequent or heavier, the gutters might overflow as the sponge restricts the flow of water. This gutter maintenance solution is not very common in the UK as we get rains throughout the year. Gutter Hedgehog As the name suggests, it is made up of many small bristles all over. It is a long and flexible brush-like device which can be fitted into any shape. The brush is fitted into the gutter and the bristles on it prevent debris and leaves from entering the gutter. This is one of the best solutions and very popular in the UK as it doesn’t reduce the flow of water through the gutter, whilst still preventing leaves and debris from gathering inside. Gutter Guard Gutter guards are fitted by clips on top of the gutter, they essentially stop large and many small items from entering into the gutter run. The mechanism used in this method is similar to the sponge filters mentioned above. In this solution also, the flow of water is restricted so it is not very ideal for wet British weather, certainly not during heavy rainfall. Choosing The Right Material If your gutters are damaged and you are replacing them, you would also want some strategies to keep the new gutters clean for as long as possible. The idea is to choose the right kind of material when purchasing the gutters so they have a long life and are not decomposed or rusted easily. Gutters are mainly made up of these elements: Wood, Aluminium, Stainless Steel, Galvanized steel or Vinyl. Out of all of these, Vinyl gutters are the most popular choice for many reasons. They are lightweight so the installation is easy, they are cost-effective so they will withstand many kinds of weather at a small price, they are also strong and tough and can go through many seasons. The best thing is if you are concerned that the colour might not match with the finishing of your house, you can colour vinyl in any colour of your choice to match the house. Regular Inspection As with any other cleaning job, a regular check on the gutters will keep you up to date on their situation. If you know what’s going on up there then you’ll be in a better position to keep them clean and in good condition. If there is damage or dampness is seeping through anywhere, a regular inspection will keep you on top of the gutter maintenance and you can correct the fault before it reaches the foundations. Maintaining the gutters on a routine basis will save your money on replacement. Leaf Lock Gutter System This is a very useful device to prevent your gutters from pulling away. It’s not uncommon for gutters to slightly pull away from the edge of the roof especially after a bad storm, resulting in the rainwater missing the gutter entirely and enter in the roof, foundation and siding. This device will help prevent the gutters from pulling away from the roof, as it snaps into the roof rather than the traditional nailing on the roof.
Tools for Gutter Cleaning
There is a lot available commercially which can aid gutter cleaning. Many of these items are affordable, so if you think you can do the job on your own it might be worth investing in a few of them to make your job easier. Also, once bought they will come handy again and again. Some of the tools that can be used to clean the gutters are: Bucket The simplest and probably the most practical tool you will need for gutter cleaning is a bucket. It can serve many purposes such as it can be a carrying tool for other items to and from your station of work. If you tie a rope on the bucket, you can easily pass it to the person helping you from the ground by slowly lowering it down. Similarly, they can pass on things to you by placing them in the bucket which you can pull up easily. It also serves as a bin for leaves and debris from the gutter. Ladder Sooner or later during the whole gutter cleaning process, you will need a good and stable ladder. Even if you are planning to do the job from the ground, you might want to climb up at some point to see how bad the situation is before you start and what areas need more focus on. Or you may want to see if the gutters have been cleaned properly after the clean has been performed. Therefore, it is a good idea to invest in a good ladder which will serve other jobs too, such as roof cleaning or window cleaning. Mr Long Arm As the name suggests, it is a long tool that aids in gutter cleaning with its long arm. It is like a long and thin stick which is quite easy to use. This is affordable and very durable equipment. It is easy to adjust for twisting and locking to perform at different angles. The long pole is quite robust which means it can do its job without breaking. You will not need a ladder for this tool. Many Professional gutter cleaners also prefer using this tool. Telescopic Wand This tool can be attached to a water hose. The advantage of having this tool is it is multi-functional, so apart from cleaning your gutters, it can also serve to clean pavement, windows and curbs. It is made of aluminium and is quite strong, plus gives good value for money. This tool is easy to use and gives good control over the space that is being cleaned. This tool can be used without a ladder too. Gutter Cleaning Kit and Vacuum You can also invest in a vacuum and gutter cleaning kit, which will give you different attachments to clean the gutters from different angles. There is a 90-degree elbow-like adjustment which adjusts in the gutter and the vacuum can blow out all the leaves and debris from the gutter run very quickly. This is a powerful tool which makes the sweeping of large twigs and debris effortless and fast. There is also the option of whether you want the vacuum to suck or blow out the debris from the gutter. Big-Reach Pole Hook The advantage of this tool is it can be attached to any standard pole in a household, such as a broomstick. It’s like a hook which pulls, pushes, grabble and gathers the debris from hard to reach areas. Apart from cleaning gutters, this tool can also be used for other hard corners in the house. Washer Gutter Cleaner Attachment A washer gutter cleaner attachment is another useful and affordable tool that can be used for gutter cleaning. The benefit of this tool is, it can be adjusted with the washer at different angles to reach the gutter easily. Plus, it can be attached to any standard nozzles and wands. Gutter Cleaning Scoop This is a small and very important tool for gutter cleaning. It works just like any ordinary scoop and can also be used for other purposes around the house. This tool picks up leaves, twigs and debris from the gutters. It is flexible, so can be used for gutters of any size and dimension. It gives good value for money, is multi-purpose and very affordable. Whichever tools you prefer to use depends on how well you can clean the gutters. As the famous saying goes, ‘the tools are only as good as the user’. If you are unsure of anything, hiring professional services is the best option. This will not only guarantee your safety but also put your mind at rest that you’ll get a great result. Maintaining a clean house from the outside is as important as cleaning the inside. To keep your property clean and damage-free, it is important to keep an eye on all aspects of house maintenance, gutter cleaning being one of them. A word of advice here is to inspect the gutters regularly, clean them at least twice a year, check for damage after a big storm and maintain the cleanliness by removing or reducing the unwanted things from getting into your gutters. Make sure to do your research before buying too many tools as often the simple tools are often the most reliable ones. Always make sure to take all the necessary precautions before you start to ensure your safety. This is always the most important step. If you do not have a safe ladder, for example, it’s not worth taking the risk and cleaning the gutters from the roof. A little bit of reading on the internet will also give you valuable guidance on the best ways to clean gutters, such as this one. Search the market for your local professional gutter cleaning services. Get a few quotes and ask for recommendations. As this involves maintenance of your property, you should not settle for anything less than perfect. Here at Perfect Plumbers, we take all health and safety measures into account and use only the best available equipment for all our jobs. So, if you are considering hiring professional gutter cleaners, give us a call and we will be happy to help regarding any of your guttering issues.