How to Perform Proper Rain Gutter Cleaning in the Fall
Routine rain gutter cleaning can save you thousands of dollars in costly home repairs.
Your roof's gutter system is designed to protect your roof, siding, foundation, walls, and windows from water damage. But if you don't perform proper gutter maintenance, the gutters become clogged full of leaves and other debris. This can result in costly home repair.
Read on to learn how to clean out gutters safely and properly so that you can keep your gutters in proper working order.
Risks of not Doing Regular Rain Gutter Cleaning
A lot of people fail to perform the recommended bi-annually gutter maintenance on their homes. Some people can't be bothered and others don't understand why it's necessary.
Here are a few reasons you definitely shouldn't neglect cleaning gutters.
1. Falling Gutters
Clogged and water-filled gutters become heavy. Soon, the gutter can't withstand the extra weight and will pull away from the house and fall to the ground. A falling gutter could seriously injure a person or cause damage to your property.
2. Foundation Cracks
When gutters are clogged, water will pool in those sections of the gutter. Those pools will eventually drip or spill onto the ground. If this water pools next to your house, it can cause the foundation to crack.
Foundation cracks lead to basement leaks as well as mold and mildew buildup inside your home.
3. Damage to Roof
When water pools in those clogged gutters, water will inevitably seep onto your roof. That water will cause the shingles or shakes of your roof to become weak and rotting. You may need to replace your roof or deal with water damage inside the house.
4. Rotting Wood
The wood inside of your walls as well as the siding on the side of your home can rot due to clogged gutters. That's because the pooling water will overflow and trickle down the sides of your house instead of through the downspout as it should.
As you can see, clogged gutters can cause big problems for your home. Now let's look at how you can prevent these problems by performing routine gutter cleaning.
Before you attempt to clean out your gutters, make sure you have the right tools to do the job safely.
You will need a stable extension ladder that can extend 3 feet above the height of your gutters. A regular 4-legged ladder or step-ladder is not appropriate for this job.
Gutters are not made to withstand weight on them. Never lean or rest a ladder on the gutter. That will cause your ladder to damage the gutter and could result in you falling off the ladder.
Check that there aren't any electrical wires before positioning your ladder. Ladders should always be 10 feet away from power lines.
Never touch an overhead powerline. They are not insulated to prevent electrical shocks.
Wearing protective eyewear and thick work gloves are essential for cleaning gutters. You may come into contact with animal feces and litter in your gutter. So practice safe sanitation precautions by wearing gloves.
Eyewear will protect your eyes from blowing debris and tiny bits of decomposed leaves that are hanging out in your gutters.
How to Clean Rain Gutters
Once you have your proper safety gear and your stable ladder in place, you can begin.
Start at the drain outlet and use a garden trowel or gutter scoop to gather loose debris.
Scoop the debris into a plastic bucket to make cleaning up simple. Move your ladder as necessary to scoop out the full length of the gutter.
Next, using a high-pressure hose, wash the hose out with the hose always pointed toward the drain outlet. This part can get muddy as there will be hardened dirt that has become stuck to the bottom of the gutter.
Be careful not to get mud splatter onto your windows and exterior walls. Otherwise, you will have to spend even longer cleaning up after clearing out the gutters.
You may need to use a stiff brush or a metal spoon to loosen some of the dirt.
Once your gutters are all clear, you can check to see that the drainpipes are all working properly.
Look for any clogs or obstructions in the downspouts. You can run your hose directly into the spout to look for a blockage. Gently tapping the side of the spout as you run the hose through it may help loosen up clogs.
If water still isn't draining freely, you can use a plumbing auger to loosen a clog. Push the snake up the pipe from the bottom to pull the trapped debris loose. You may need to repeat this from the top of the drainpipe as well.
Know When to Call the Experts
Over 28,000 people are injured each year by falling off of ladders in home cleaning projects.
If your house is tall (such as a 2-story home with walkout basement) or if your gutters sit less than 10 feet from power lines, you should not attempt to do rain gutter cleaning yourself.
If you are at all uncomfortable attempting this fall gutter maintenance task or are afraid of heights, leave it to the experts. Also, if you have health conditions that make you susceptible to mold, don't clean your own gutters.
Don't risk your safety to get the job done.