How to Clean Gutters like a Pro

It's not a glamorous job, but cleaning your gutters is an essential part of routine home maintenance. If you're unsure how to tackle the job or are intimidated by the process, use this step-by-step gutter guide to help you clean them out with ease.

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Cleaning your gutters may seem like a thankless task, but it's a necessary job that should appear at least twice a year -- spring and fall -- on your home to-do list. Skip it, and you may inadvertently cause yourself headaches and end up with damage to your home. That's because clogged gutters can lead to water and weight overload, which in turn can stress the roof, siding, and gutter supports and lead to leaks. Blocked water may also result in costly rot and winter ice dams.

Fortunately, cleaning the gutters isn't that technical or difficult of a job, especially when it's done regularly. Here are materials you'll need and steps to take to get rid of the debris and keep your gutters clean.

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To clean your gutters, gather:

  • Ladder
  • Gloves
  • Waste bucket or garbage bags
  • Tool belt
  • Small hand shovel 
  • Garden hose
  • Mask and safety goggles
  1. Set up your ladder. Follow any and all safety guidelines when placing it on the ground and using the steps. Make sure you can easily reach the gutter while maintaining a secure footing. Consider using a ladder accessory called a standoff in order to prevent damage to your gutter, as well as a ladder hook to hang a waste bucket or garbage bag near where you are working.
  2. Affix your safety gear and use a tool belt to safely carry the hand shovel; climb the ladder.
  3. Use gloved hands and the hand shovel to remove debris from the gutter. (If using garbage bags you can fill them and then drop them to the ground to be picked up later.) Alternatively, you can place tarps on the ground near the edge of the house, dislodge gutter debris, and drop the debris on top of the tarp. Generally that material can be composted.
  4. Rinse the gutter with the hose, pushing the water toward the downspout and dislodging any dirt from the bottom of the gutter.
  5. Make sure that water runs through the downspout and that there are no clogs. Dislodge any debris blocking the downspouts.
  6. Climb down the ladder and move it to the next section of gutter; empty the garbage pail as needed.
  7. As you work, make sure to inspect the gutter. Look for leaks to be patched and gutter pieces that have pulled away from the house. Rusted elements may need to be replaced.
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