Get the Dirt on Gutter Cleaning
Did the gutters get forgotten in your last home maintenance spree?
Between lawn work, landscaping, and other outdoor maintenance, it can be tempting to let some of the items on your to-do list slip through the cracks. While some projects can be put off, gutter and downspout cleaning are two tasks that you do not want to ignore. Before a simple problem turns severe, show your gutters and downspouts some love and have them cleaned by a pro.
Cleaning Your Home? Don't Forget the Gutters
Just as vacuuming and dusting are needed to keep your interior clean, gutter and downspout cleaning are needed to keep your exterior clean. While gutters are excellent at catching rainwater and carrying it away from your home, they also catch unwanted debris like leaves, twigs, and pine needles. When your gutters are clogged with dirt and debris the blockage can cause water to overflow directly next to your home when it rains. If this goes untreated for too long, the excess water could lead to soil erosion or seep into your home's foundation and basement.
Instead of ending up with a home disaster on your hands, make sure your gutters get regular deep cleans. A good gutter cleaning generally happens in two steps. The first step is to remove the large debris from the gutter, which is usually done with a scoop and bucket if the debris is wet or a shop vac if it is dry. The second step is clearing out the fine particles by flushing out the gutter with water. If the water isn't flowing out well this is usually an indication that the downspout also needs to be cleaned. Large debris can get stuck in the downspout, especially on the curve, and block the flow of escaping water. Usually the clog can be cleared with pressured water but if the clog persists, a plumbing snake is typically needed.
If you have a two-story house or a complex roof, special equipment may be needed to reach the gutter area safely. Even with the proper equipment, it can be difficult to do the deep cleaning your gutters need while balancing the necessary tools and staying steady on the ladder. Because of this, we recommend leaving riskier cleaning projects to a gutter cleaning service.
Your Gutter Cleaning Timeline
To avoid gutter issues, it is usually best to have your gutters cleaned twice a year. However, if you live in a desert area that doesn't have many trees, cleaning may only be needed once a year. On the other hand, homes that are surrounded by trees or in a heavily wooded area may need gutter cleaning up to four times a year to stay on top of extra leaves and debris.
Not sure when to add this task to your home maintenance list? Spring and fall are prime times to clean your gutters. This spring cleaning project can protect your home from overflowing gutters and basement leaks during April showers. While the rainy season may seem like it will never end, colder weather will come before you know it so you'll want to gear up for gutter cleaning again come fall. Once the leaves of turning trees have made their way into the gutters, it's cleaning time. It's best to take care of this task right after the leaves are done falling so they will still be dry and easier to clean. With all the leaves out, your gutters will be ready for winter. Keep in mind, clean gutters are just as important in the winter as they are in the spring, so it's best to keep an eye on them throughout the season. Gutters have the important role of carrying melted snow away from your roof. But, if the melted snow can't get away, it could refreeze in the gutters and lead to ice dams.
Better Homes & Gardens Tip: Besides protecting your home, routine gutter cleaning also makes the job easier the next time around. When you keep up with this cleaning routine, you can avoid grimy buildup, especially mold, that makes gutter cleaning difficult and expensive.
How to Extend Your Gutter Clean
Regular gutter cleaning will always be important, but there are steps you can take to extend the life of your clean and make future cleanings easier.
If you're prone to neglecting cleaning projects or have a lot of trees that dirty your gutters, you may want to invest in gutter guards. There are several different types of gutter guards to choose from, and each offer their own set of pros and cons. For example, gutter screens are inexpensive and easy to install but they allow smaller debris like pine needles through while surface-tension guards block out most debris but are more expensive and cause water runoff during downpours. It's best to work with your gutter cleaning service to find the gutter guards that work best for your roof and the area you live in. Remember though -- gutter guards may extend the time between required cleanings, but they won't eliminate the task completely.
Don't Forget Downspouts
Downspouts are just as important as your gutters and get just as dirty and clogged. In fact, cleaning your gutters is useless if the water can't flow out through the downspout. You may think that having your gutters cleaned automatically includes having your downspouts cleaned as well, but this isn't always the case. Because downspouts are more difficult to clean due to their closed structure, they are sometimes considered an add-on service to a gutter cleaning. Because of this, you'll want to be sure to clarify what services are included in your gutter cleaning to see if a downspout add on is needed.