It’s time to think about spring cleaning the gutters. While it’s survived the winter, your gutter system is most likely filled with decayed leaf sediment, pine needles, twigs and other miscellaneous bits and pieces. But before tackling the real work of cleaning the gutters, use these tips to make better use of your time and energy.
Start on the Roof
Clean the roof first, up to three days before cleaning the gutters. This will help prevent materials from entering back into your newly cleaned gutter system.
Use a rake or a broom to sweep away any dirt, leaves, twigs, etc. Pay special attention to places where debris can build up like around a chimney, vents or a skylight.
Be safe walking on the roof. Wear rubber soled shoes with good treads. Plan on cleaning the roof later in the morning; roofs are typically damp at the beginning of the day.
Ladder Inventory and Inspection
Take an inventory of the ladder you will be using. It should be sturdy and in good shape, preferably made of metal rather than wood. It is recommended that a step ladder (has four legs when opened) be used for a one-storey home, and an extension ladder for houses that are taller.
A ladder that has a shelf or hooks will allow you to have the immediate tools necessary for your gutter cleaning chore close at hand, reducing the number of times you need to climb up or down the rungs.
If your home has aluminum gutters, use a ladder standoff (for extension ladders) to avoid denting the gutter system.
Garden Hose Savvy
Once the heavier clumps of debris have been removed from the gutters, the best tool for rinsing out the gutter channel is a garden hose. Select a pistol-grip trigger spray nozzle. It can be easily hung from the gutter or a ladder. Spray “downward;” the water should flow toward the downspout.
While it’s logical to think that you will get a more thorough clean with a pressure washer, it’s not recommended. Particularly if the gutters are five years old or more, water from a pressurized sprayer can dent aluminum gutters or crack vinyl gutters. Even on a low setting, water can be pushed in behind loose gutter sections, fascia boards or siding panels.