During the colder months, most of us don't pay as much attention to what's going on on the exterior of the house. All the while, harsh weather is taking its toll -- and the house's gutters are working overtime to collect and carry away rain water and melted snow from the roof, expelling it through downspouts.
Along the way, leaves, twigs and other debris also collect in gutters and downspouts, clogging them and blocking water flow. This can lead to rot and other water-related damage to your home's exterior and foundation
. The debris can also become a breeding ground for weeds and other plants. Gutters and downspouts need to be cleaned yearly. The accumulation of debris over just one year is amazing (and a little disgusting)
Cleaning the gutters is a simple DIY task. In some situations it might make sense to climb on the roof, but in most cases a ladder is the safest choice. It's best to have a partner with you, holding the ladder and ready to help as needed.
Tarp or bucket
Scoop -- A gardening spade, old kitchen utensil or modified milk jug
will all work just fine
Plumbers snake (if needed)
1. Lay the tarp out below the ladder.
This is where you'll drop the debris. Some people prefer to use a bucket.
2. Put on rubber gloves
to protect your hands from screws, sharp twigs or other mystery items that might be hiding in your gutter gunk.
3. Lean the ladder up against the house, but not against the gutter.
The gutter's thin metal will dent or bend easily under the pressure of a ladder. If resting the ladder against the house isn't an option, there are some ladder accessories
that keep the ladder in place without damaging the gutters.
4. Pick out any branches or other big obstructions.
To avoid clogging the downspout
, start in a corner, working away from the downspout.
5. Scoop the debris out of the gutter,
and drop it on the tarp.
6. Cover as much distance as you can
without overreaching, then move the ladder to the next section.
7. Use a garden hose to spray any dirt
that is packed too tightly for the scoop. The water should run freely out the downspout. If it doesn't, try working it away with water pressure from the hose. If the downspout is still clogged, use a plumbers snake
When you're finished, put all that gutter build-up to good use by adding it to your compost.
If cleaning gutters every year seems like an arduous task, try installing a gutter debris shield
. It lets water in but filters out solid material.
It's not often that you're up close and personal with your gutters so take this opportunity to inspect them for damage as well. Dents, holes and cracks may have surfaced over the winter months and should be repaired
as soon as possible.