Gutter Cleaning – How to guide

Gutter cleaning is something that can strike fear into the hearts of any homeowner. But what is it, and what does it include? Can the DIYer do it, and when should a professional gutter cleaning service be used? All the answers to these questions you’ll find in this helpful guide. So, let’s start.

What is gutter cleaning?

Firstly, what is the definition of gutter cleaning? Simply put, it is the process of removing leaves, twigs, and other debris from gutters.

Why is gutter cleaning necessary?

Gutter cleaning is necessary to keep gutters functioning correctly. When gutters are clogged, water can back up and cause damage to the roof, fascia, and soffit. In addition, clogged gutters can cause water to pool around the foundation of the home, which can lead to foundation problems. So, a clogged gutter is no joke; it can lead to damp and mould problems, rodents and other creepy crawly infestations, and much more severe problems like subsidence and rotten roof trusses, which will eventually lead to costly repairs.

What is the best way to clean your gutter?

There are a few ways to clean your gutter, but the most effective way is to use a gutter cleaning service because they have the knowledge and experience to safely and effectively clean your gutters. But, more importantly, they have the safety equipment and training to do the job safely and correctly.

But here are the basic steps if you want to clean your gutters.

First, safety:

  • PPE: Make sure to use gloves and eye protection. If needed, also use fall protection measures; if you’re unsure, contact a professional gutter cleaner or height and safety expert.
  • LADDERS: Make sure you place your ladder where it can’t slip away. It needs to be on firm, level ground. If you are using a straight ladder or extension ladder, make sure the top part is leaning on something solid, which doesn’t include your gutter. Ladders should be placed at a 75-degree angle. So, simply put, for every four metres you need to climb up, the ladder’s base should be one metre away from the wall the ladder is leaning against. Heights are the most dangerous thing about gutter cleaning; a bad fall could mean a visit to the hospital or worse, so please be careful.

Secondly, materials.

Must have:

  • Ladder
  • Hose pipe with spray nozzle attachment
  • Gutter scoop or another plastic scoop

Might be needed/optional:

  • Plumbers snake
  • Pressure washer
  • Bucket

If repairs are required:

  • Caulking gun + sealant
  • Drill + bits
  • Screwdrivers
  • Gutter hardware that needs to be replaced

Thirdly, cleaning:

  1. Begin cleaning the area around the exit of the downpipe; this will help make cleaning up afterwards a lot easier
  2. Remove the larger debris like leaves and twigs by hand, then use a gutter scoop or some kind of plastic scoop (it’s best to use plastic or rubber as a metal scoop can damage the guttering) to remove compacted debris.
    1. If you have a downpipe strainer or downpipe guard, it can be removed once all the larger debris has been cleaned up.
    2. You may choose to use a bucket to collect all dirt and debris from your gutters, or you can simply drop it to ground level and clean it up afterwards.
  3. To clean out the downpipe, fit your hosepipe with a spray nozzle attachment to flush the gutter with water.
    1. If you notice the amount of water coming out of the downpipe seems less than you are spraying in, there might be a clog. To remove a clog, insert the hosepipe into the exit of the downpipe and put the water on at full pressure; this should unblock the downpipe. Once the blockage is gone, use the hose to flush the gutters again to check for proper flow and drainage. If this doesn’t unblock the downpipe, you’ll need something like a plumbers snake or a professional gutter cleaner.
  4. Gutter Inspection: Now that the gutters are clean, look for leaks. Apply sealant where necessary. Ensure the gutters don’t sag and are correctly slopping towards the downpipe. If not, they will need to be repaired and securely attached to the house.
  5. Roof Inspection: While you’re on the roof, take a look at your roof. Does it look how it should? Do you see damp patches or loose roof tiles? Does it need to be repointed and re-bedded? If so, you have another DIY job on your hands, or you might want to contact a professional.
  6. Cleanup: You’ll need to clean up the inevitable mess you have made. Start by cleaning up the leaves and other debris. Next, if the walls look dirty, use a pressure washer to clean them, and at the same time, it can also be used to clean the floor and surrounding area.

Protip: the debris makes excellent compost, so spread it around your garden.

Can I clean my gutters without a ladder?

Yes, but unless you have professional hardware, it’s not recommended! If you don’t want to climb a ladder, please, call a professional gutter cleaning service. In the long run, it’s a lot better for your gutters.

The following are not recommended but are possible ways to clean your gutters without a ladder.

Pressure washer: You can buy special attachments for your pressure washer. Using one of these attachments, start near the downpipe and push the dirt away from the downpipe. The pressure should expel most of the debris out of the gutter. However, ensure you don’t push debris or other dirt into the downpipe, as this will probably cause a blockage, leading to a bigger problem.

Leaf Blower: Just like a pressure washer, you can buy attachments for your leafblower, specially designed to clean your gutters. Starting from the downpipe, position the leaf blower to push the leaves away from the downpipe. When you get to one end of the guttering, turn around and work your way to the other end.

Warning: With both methods, expect to get wet and very dirty. Also, remember that both these methods can damage your gutters, so proceed cautiously.

Pros of cleaning your gutters with these methods:

  • Both methods save you from calling a professional gutter cleaner and having to climb a ladder. So you will save money and the risk of falling and hurting yourself.

Cons of cleaning your gutters with these methods:

  • There will be dirt everywhere!
  • If you’re not careful, both methods can damage the guttering, so again, be very careful.
  • You won’t see any maintenance needed on your gutters or your roof.

How Do Professionals Clean Gutters?

The methods are basically the same but with a few crucial differences.

Firstly, they will have all the proper safety equipment, which means they can work quickly and efficiently without any risk of injury. And on top of that, professional gutter cleaners are trained to work at heights.

Secondly, because they have been cleaning gutters for a while, they know exactly what to look for when it comes to gutter maintenance and can spot potential problems quickly and efficiently before they become bigger problems. Something that amateur gutter cleaners won’t spot and can lead to expensive problems if not fixed in time. They’ll also inspect your roof while they’re up there and let you know if any maintenance issues need to be addressed.

Thirdly, because professional gutter cleaners use specialised equipment, so they can clean your gutters much more thoroughly and much quicker than you ever could with a garden hose or leaf blower.