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Cleaning roof gutters is a small task that can prevent big problems. Follow these simple steps for cleaning your home’s gutters and making simple gutter repairs.
Use this checklist when you go to the store and purchase your items.
Thoroughly cleaning your home’s gutters every spring and fall will keep them working like they should. Leaves can build up and clog the downspouts, which can cause water damage to your roof and fascia (the board behind the gutter). Water pouring over the gutters or from leaks can end up next to your home’s foundation, in the basement or crawlspace.
Cleaning or attempting to repair your gutters from on top of the roof is not recommended. Clean your gutters while standing firmly on a ladder. Avoid standing on the top three rungs and don't reach past the side rail – no farther than your belt buckle. When working from a ladder, use one bucket for gutter debris and another for carrying tools. Use wire hooks to attach the buckets to the ladder. Make sure the area below the gutter is clear.
A hose-end attachment specially designed for gutters may make this project a lot easier. If you need to clean from a ladder, follow these steps.
Begin cleaning the gutter near a downspout.
Remove the large debris (leaves, twigs, etc.) with a trowel and dump it in a bucket.
To clean out finer materials, flush the gutter lengths with a hose starting at the end opposite the downspout. Alternatively, you can use a gutter-cleaning attachment on a hose. If the water doesn’t drain, recheck the downspout strainer and clean as necessary.
If gutter water still doesn’t drain, the downspout may be clogged.
- Check the drain end. If the downspout runs underground, remove it from the pipe as needed.
- Install a small nozzle on the hose, and lock it at full pressure. Turn on the water and feed the hose up from the bottom of the spout. If this doesn’t clear the downspout or the nozzle is too big, use a plumber’s snake tool to clear the blockage.
- Reattach the downspout.
- Flush the entire gutter again.
- Be sure to clean the downspout strainers.
If there's still standing water after the gutter has been flushed, the gutter may not be sloped correctly and will require adjustment. The length of the system should decline at least ¼ inch every 10 feet toward the downspout.
If the gutter doesn’t slope enough, detach the hangers and adjust the gutter enough to drain properly, then reattach. It may be easier to work on small sections at a time to prevent the entire gutter system from falling.
Inspect the gutter sections and downspouts for obvious damage and missing parts. Support hangers should be spaced every 2 feet along the gutter.
To replace or add hangers:
Repair any leaks in the gutter.
Apply gutter touch-up paint to cover any blemishes as desired. If necessary, repaint some or all of the gutters.