Cleaning your gutters and downspouts will be pretty important. If you don’t clean your gutters at least semi-regularly, they won’t work right.
Gutters can get clogged by debris over time. The same is true when you’re talking about downspouts.
Leaves, twigs, and other types of debris can get stuck in the gutters and downspouts. So you need to physically remove the debris and clean the gutters sometimes.
If you’ve never done this before, you might not be sure how to proceed. Below, you’ll get information about cleaning gutters and downspouts as safely as possible. This will help you to have the best experience and keep your gutters working well.
How to Clean Gutters and Downspouts Safely
Taking the time to clean your gutters doesn’t have to be incredibly difficult. If you approach things the right way, it’s possible to clean the gutters safely.
The most common way to clean the gutters is to use a ladder and physically remove the debris with your hands. You’ll need a ladder that is tall enough for you to reach inside the gutters without having to overreach and put yourself in danger.
Ideally, you want to have a helper for this job. You want someone to watch you while you’re cleaning the gutters, and they should hold the ladder for you.
Your helper can steady the ladder and grab things for you if necessary. Don’t attempt this job if you’re alone because you could fall and no one would be there to help.
If you’re unsteady on ladders or if you have an extreme fear of heights, it might not be good to do this yourself. You can see if you can get someone else in your household to get on the ladder while you steady it.
Get prepared to clean the gutters by grabbing gloves. Work gloves or gardening gloves will protect your hands so you won’t get scratched or cut by the debris.
You’ll also want bags that you can put the debris in. Some people lay tarps down in their yards and just throw the debris down on the ground.
This is an option if you have enough tarps. Once you’re ready, climb the ladder and start pulling debris out of the gutters.
Put the debris in the bag or throw it on the ground so you can pick it up later. Try not to overreach because this is dangerous.
Instead, you should climb back down the ladder and reposition it as necessary. Do this until you have made your way all around the house, removing debris from the gutters.
When everything is done, you can run water through the gutters using your garden hose. Check to see if the water is flowing out of the downspout as expected.
You might need to remove debris from the downspout. Try removing debris from the top of the downspout and then check to see if there’s any debris near the bottom.
Run water through the downspout to try to dislodge any gunk that is stuck in there. This should make it easy enough to clean the downspout and keep it working properly.
How Long Does It Take to Clean Gutters?
Exactly how long it takes to clean gutters will depend on how big your home is. It also depends on how fast you move.
Most people will be able to clean the gutters on a 2,000 square foot home in thirty to forty-five minutes. If you move slowly, it might take you around one hour to finish up.
Sometimes these jobs will take between one and two hours. This is usually only the case when cleaning gutters on rather large homes.
Just make sure that you set aside at least one hour when you plan to clean the gutters. This will ensure that you’ll have enough time to get the job done.
It’s also important to note that you shouldn’t rush when trying to clean the gutters. You want to be thorough, and you also want to avoid hurting yourself.
Trying to go too fast might cause you to fall off the ladder. Whenever you’re working on a ladder, it’s important to be safe and avoid making risky moves.
How Often Do Gutters Need to Be Cleaned?
Ideally, you want to clean your gutters once or twice per year. How often you’ll need to clean the gutters will depend on various factors.
Some people have homes that are close to many trees. When trees are close to your home, it’s more likely that leaves will fall on the roof and get in the gutters.
Other types of debris can get in the gutters, too. Twigs, dirt, acorns, pine needles, pine cones, and so many other things can clog your gutters.
If you live in a windy area, you might want to clean your gutters more often, too. This is because the wind might blow debris from nearby trees into your gutters.
So the trees don’t necessarily have to be super close to your home for the gutters to get clogged. Many people choose to clean their gutters once every spring.
If you decide that you need to clean the gutters twice per year, you could do it once at the beginning of the year and once in the middle of the year. Either way, make sure that you stick to a consistent schedule to ensure that your gutters stay clear.
How Often to Clean Your Gutters if You Don’t Have Trees
If you don’t have trees near your home, it’s likely that you can clean the gutters once per year, and things will be fine. However, it still depends on other factors.
Living in a windy area might make it more likely that your gutters will get clogged by debris. Even so, there’s a good chance that cleaning your gutters once per year will be okay.
So long as you’re cleaning your gutters at least once per year, it’s unlikely that they will get too clogged. You should be able to keep the gutters working properly so that water will flow toward the downspout.
Just be sure to clean the gutters thoroughly each time you clean them. You don’t want to miss cleaning certain sections because even a few clogged spots can prevent the gutters from working as intended.
Why Gutter Cleaning Is Important
Cleaning your gutters is important because they won’t work well if you don’t. Failing to clean your gutters will cause them to get clogged over time.
Gutters that are very clogged will make it so water cannot flow through them. Instead of water flowing through the gutters and toward the downspout, the clogs will cause water to overflow at certain spots.
Think of the clogs in the gutters like little dams. They’re preventing the water from getting where it needs to go.
During heavy rainfall, you might see the gutters overflowing. Water will flow over the sides when the gutters are clogged.
Clogged gutters won’t be able to protect your home from water damage. The water might pool on the roof in certain spots, and you might have water pool near the foundation of the house.
Water damage might cause portions of your roof to rot. It can also cause damage to the foundation.
You want to avoid this because it’s potentially costly. It’s much easier to simply clean your gutters often enough.
Can You Clean Gutters with a Pressure Washer?
No, cleaning gutters with a pressure washer simply isn’t a good idea. Technically, you could use a pressure washer to dislodge debris from the gutters, but it’s not the safest choice.
Pressure washers are powerful, and using them on the gutters might cause some damage. You could wear your gutters down and make them weaker by using a pressure washer.
So it’s best to stick to the hand removal method described earlier. This is the safest way to clean your gutters without harming the gutters.
You can use a hose to run water through the gutters once you’re done removing the debris. Just resist the temptation to use your pressure washer since it’s a bit too powerful.
Can Gutters Be Cleaned in the Winter?
It’s possible to clean gutters in the winter if you need to. However, it might be a little bit risky to clean the gutters during this time.
This is because it’s going to be rather slippery outside when there’s ice and snow to deal with. Also, it can be tough to deal with the ice on the gutters.
Sometimes it’s necessary to remove ice dams in the gutters, though. The easiest way to get rid of ice dams in gutters is to use hot water.
Boil water in a tea kettle and then safely try to pour it into the gutters. It’d be best to climb the ladder first and then have a friend safely hand you the tea kettle.
Wear gloves and try not to burn yourself or your friend below. You can remove ice from gutters in the winter, but it’s better to save the normal gutter maintenance for the spring, summer, or fall.
Can You Use a Leaf Blower to Clean Gutters?
Some people clean their gutters using a leaf blower. This is easier to do if the gutters aren’t too clogged.
Of course, there are some very powerful leaf blowers out there. Some leaf blowers are so strong that they could blow away tight clogs in gutters.
That doesn’t mean that every type of leaf blower will be practical to use to clean the gutters, though. You need to be able to safely use the leaf blower to clean the gutters.
Some people climb on the roof using a ladder and then use the leaf blower to clean the gutters out. This can work, but it’s not wise for those who are fearful of heights to attempt this.
It would be safer to use a leaf blower extension kit and clean the gutters that way. This can allow you to clean the gutters from a ladder or possibly even while standing on the ground or on your deck.
Can You Use a Shop Vac to Clean Gutters?
Yes, you can use a shop vac to clean gutters if you’re so inclined. If you have a shop vac, it’s fine to use it for getting rid of debris in the gutters.
Some people might find this easier to do than climbing a ladder and removing debris by hand. Others will find it to be a bit too scary.
The basic idea is to climb a ladder and use the shop vac hose to suck up the debris in the gutter. This can work, but you’ll want to have a long hose to get the job done.
Remember not to overreach or take unnecessary risks. As usual, you want to have a helper to hold the ladder and reposition the shop vac as necessary.
Climb down the ladder to reposition the ladder when you must. Don’t try to reach too far and cause yourself to fall.
If you have a shop vac, this can be a great way to clean the gutters. It might even speed things up slightly and allow you to get the job done without it being a big deal.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. As a homeowner, I love working on projects around the house, and as a father, I love investigating various ways to keep my family safe (whether or not this involves tech). I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.