How to Clean Your Gutters

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Fall has arrived, bringing with it cool, crisp air and changing colors. And while the changing colors of the season are beautiful to the eye, the inevitable fall of the leaves can bring trouble. As leaves depart from the tree and begin their descent, many may end up settling in your gutters. The leaves silently accumulating in your gutter will end up clogging them and during the next downpour, you may witness a cascade of water rushing off your roof. When gutters become clogged and water is unable to flow freely, the overflow during heavy rains can lead to damage to your landscaping and foundation. Moreover, clogged gutters can lead to water damage on your roof and fascia. Cleaning the fall leaves and debris from your gutters is the best way to prevent such damage.

The best time to clear your gutters is after all the leaves have fallen, and not after a rain storm (cleaning is much easier if the debris is dried out). Put on a long sleeve shirt and some rubber gloves and use a sturdy, extendable ladder to reach your gutters. Hardware stores sell a tool called a “gutter scoop” that assists you in removing all the gunk, but you could also just use a child’s sand shovel if you have one lying around. Instead of throwing the debris onto your lawn, use a plastic bucket or lay a tarp down to make clean-up easy. Once all the debris and gunk is out of your gutters, clear the gutters and downspouts with a garden hose.

If the water still isn’t clearing, you may have a clogged downspout. If that is the case, feed a hose up the bottom of the downspout and turn on the water at full pressure. This should clear the downspout, but if it doesn’t, you may need to use a plumber’s snake tool to clear the blockage.

Some people choose to install gutter covers or gutter guards on their gutters so they can avoid this yearly maintenance task. This is certainly an option you can talk to your contractor about. However, the cost can sometimes be more than the gutters themselves and they aren’t entirely maintenance free as even the covers themselves need to be cleared.

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