Cleaning out the gutters on your home is a lot of work, especially if you have many trees on your property that shed leaves on your roof. To do the job right, you'll need to climb on a ladder and dig the decaying leaves out of the troughs. If you can't climb a ladder or don't have time for the job, you should hire a contractor to do the work so you can prevent damage from clogged or damaged gutters. If you want to attempt the job yourself, here are a few points to keep in mind.
Start With A Clean Roof
The first step is to sweep all the leaves off your roof. If you don't, the leaves will blow into the gutter and clog it up again. It's best to clean out your gutters toward the end of autumn when most of the leaves have fallen from the trees. Then, when you sweep them off the roof and clean them out of your gutters, you won't have to worry about the leaves building up until next fall.
Wear Protective Equipment
Always wear gloves when working with your gutters. Decaying leaves harbor bacteria, especially if the leaves are mixed with bird or rodent droppings. If you have problems with asthma or allergies, you may also want to wear a mask since you may come in close contact with pine needles, bird feathers, or other allergens. In addition, it's a good idea to wear goggles or some form of protective eyewear that will protect your eyes from bits of flying debris or spraying water.
Dig Out Leaf Clumps
The easiest way to get rid of leaves is to dig them out with your gloved hand. You can also buy a gutter scraper tool from the hardware store for the purpose. If you use a tool, be sure it is made of plastic rather than metal so it won't damage your troughs. You can drop the clumps of leaves into a bucket that sits on your ladder, or you can just drop them to the ground if you lay down a tarp first. Once all the leaves are out of the troughs, you can check for leaf clogs in the downspout by running water into the spout from a hose. If water rushes in the top, but trickles out the bottom, there is a clog of leaves inside. You may be able to break it apart by knocking on the side of the downspout, or you may have to poke a long rod into the spout to break up the clog.
Hose Out The Troughs
Washing the troughs with a hose has two purposes. For one, it cleans the gutters. For another, it makes it easy to check for leaky areas. Spray water at the end of the trough so it runs toward the downspout. Check for drips leaking through seams, and make sure water doesn't pool in any section of the gutters. If water pools rather than flow through, it means the slope of the trough needs to be adjusted so water flows toward the downspout by gravity alone.
Use the hose to spray dirt, droppings, pine needles, and stuck bits of leaves out of the gutter, and to wash off the exterior side. If there are stains on the outside of the gutter, you may want to scrub them off with soapy water and a soft brush.
Make Needed Repairs
Once the gutters are clean, you can make any repairs that are needed. If you find a leaky seam, you can seal it with caulk. Also look for spikes that have worked loose. The gutters need to be held securely in place so they don't blow off in high winds. Plus, if a couple of spikes are missing, the gutter may sag in that area and not drain properly. While cleaning your gutters is fairly easy to do on your own, you may need to call in a contractor to adjust the slope of your troughs or make repairs to leaks. Once your gutters are cleaned and repaired, they should be set for several months. However, if you have many trees, or if you have a big storm with high winds roll through, you may want to inspect your gutters more often just to make sure they are okay. Something as simple as a clogged or leaky gutter could cause other problems such as a wet basement, so it's important to maintain your gutters properly.
For more information, contact Mr. Gutter or a similar company.