While it’s probably one of the least favourite home maintenance tasks, avoiding cleaning the gutters could end up being a bigger headache. A neglected gutter system can overflow, become a new home for birds or squirrels, or break away from the fascia. Taking the time now to maintain your home’s exterior can protect it from serious water damage in the future. Smart ways to clean the gutters this spring are ladder awareness, wearing the right gear, and using the appropriate gutter cleaning tools.
Choose the Right Time
It’s almost Spring, so anytime during the season is fine, right? When you should clean the gutters in the spring actually depends on the type of trees that grow on or near your property. Since some types of trees drop debris continuously throughout the year, clear the roof off first. If the majority of the trees are fruit-bearing or flowering, plan on cleaning the gutters the last week of April or within the first two weeks of May after seed pods, pollen, blossoms, etc. have been shed.
Take the Time to Prepare
Check the long-term weather forecast and choose a day to clean the gutters that won’t be wet, too hot, or too windy.
Before you begin, make a list of everything you will need to clean the gutters. Then take inventory of what you have on hand and what you will need to purchase.
It’s always a good safety strategy to never climb a ladder on your own. Clean the gutters when someone will be home or have a helper.
Check any equipment you’ll be using such as a ladder, wet/dry shop vacuum, or a gutter cleaning robot to ensure it is in good working order.
If you are still using a ladder made of wood, consider upgrading to a new metal ladder this spring. Over time, wood ladders can become unstable due to warping.
Because this gutter material dents easily, if you have aluminum gutters, use a ladder stabilizer. A ladder stabilizer is designed to be attached to a straight or extension ladder and leaned safely against siding.
When cleaning the gutters, you will need to move the ladder several times during the process. As you move the ladder from one place to another, avoid power lines and ensure you’ve set it back down on a firm, level surface.
Wearing the Right Gear
To be safe when cleaning the gutters, wear heavy work gloves, safety goggles, and a dust mask. For added protection, wear the right gear – sturdy shoes or work boots with non-slip soles; select a shirt with long sleeves, and use sunscreen if you’ll be cleaning the gutters on a sunny day.
Appropriate Gutter Cleaning Tools
Using the appropriate gutter cleaning tools will help reduce the time you spend cleaning the gutters. For example, a garden trowel can be used to clear out the debris from inside the gutter channel, but a gutter scoop has higher sides and holds more gunk.
Use a garden hose with a high-pressure nozzle instead of a pressure/power washer. A pressure washer can force water in behind soffit panels, fascia boards, and siding.
Don’t forget that the downspouts are attached to the gutters and need to be cleaned too. Common places for debris to build up are the gutter outlet (where gutter section and downspout connect), in the middle of the pipe, and above or below the downspout elbow (there can be several per downspout).
From the top, run water through the downpipes to check for blockages. If water doesn’t flow quickly when exiting the gutter system, there is most likely debris buildup. Use an auger to clear away the clogs.