- Ideas & How-Tos
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Clean gutters are home maintenance essentials. Gutters should be cleaned at least twice a year, preferably in spring and fall. Use our tips below to make quick work of dingy downspouts and leaves that won't leave.
Pick a good dry day. It will be more comfortable. Dry, loose leaves and small twigs can be removed with a handheld blower. The traditional grab-and-drop method still works, and it requires no investment in equipment, electricity or gasoline.
You may encounter stubborn, caked buildups. If so, they may be easier to remove after a rain when damp instead of dry and hard. You can always use a water hose to dampen buildup.
Note: Never pressure wash your gutters. While seeming easy, you risk packing debris into the downspouts.
Inspect your gutters as you clean. Look for corrosion, holes, leaking joints or loose, missing or bent hangers. Mark problem areas with masking tape so you can find the problem spots quickly when you're ready for repairs.
Wear gloves to protect yourself from scratches. Keep your tools – garden trowel, gutter scoop, whisk broom and rag – in a bucket with a handle. Fasten the bucket to your ladder with a wire hook. This will prevent you from having to juggle tools or stuffing tools in your pockets.
Using a gutter scoop, start cleaning a stretch of gutter at the downspout area. This is where debris usually collects. Work your way up the gutter, putting the collected debris in a bucket. (It makes a great addition to your compost pile.)
It is a good idea to flush your gutters with a hose afterward. This will show how well the gutters are draining and will indicate any areas that are holding water.
You may need to reposition the gutter to create and maintain the proper drain slope. Gutters should slope downward at least 1/4" for every 5'-10' of gutter. You might be able to raise a gutter by bending its hangers. In the most severe cases, you will need to take down an entire section and remount the hangers.
Keep leaves, twigs and other materials out of your gutters by installing protective gutter guards. There are two types:
If a downspout is blocked, work from the bottom of the downspout if possible. Since the clog occurred from the top, you don't want to pack it in tighter. Try these methods to remove blockage:
Don't let grimy gutters detract from all the hard work you've put into your new home. After your gutters are sparkling clean, you can move on to other quick repairs for your new place. Read more tips and ideas in our Maintenance & Repair section.
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