Cleaning the gutters is an important maintenance project that many people tend to forget about. The gutters help collect the rain that falls from the roof and divert it away from the house. This keeps the water from leaking into the basement, protects the foundation, and protects the siding. When forgotten about, the gutters tend to become filled with debris which prevents proper drainage of the water. On average, cleaning of the gutters should be done twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. This is also the time to inspect them for repairs.

When one sets out to clean gutters, it is important to have the proper equipment and to have it nearby. Equipment which is needed includes an extension ladder, something to collect fallen debris in such as a tarp, a bucket or a garbage bag, a scooper or trowel, rubber gloves, hammer, nails, and a garden hose with spray nozzle. A tool belt is a good idea for holding the tools that may be needed.

To begin cleaning, determine where the best place is to start. The corners of the house are usually good starting points because this is where the downspouts are located. When starting at this point, one should work away from the downspout so it doesn’t collect more debris from the cleaning.

Once the starting point is determined, make sure all the tools needed are nearby. Lay a tarp alongside the house and continue to move it as you move the ladder. This is for catching any debris that may fall while cleaning. Stabilize the ladder against the house, being careful not to lay it against the gutter.

With rubber gloves for protection against sharp objects which may be in the gutter, use the scooper to scoop out the debris. Place the debris into the bucket or garbage bag. It may help to have the bucket attached to the ladder with an s-hook. Not all the debris may be caught by the scooper and it will then have to be picked up by hand or removed with the garden hose.

Once all the debris has been removed, it is time to use the garden hose to rinse out the gutter. Spray the water in the direction of the downspout. The gutter is clean when no more debris is visible. If the downspout is clogged, it will need to be cleared out. This can be done by spraying water, at full force, up from the bottom end or forcing the water down from the top. If this does not work, a plumber’s snake may need to be used. As the snake is worked down into the spout, it will pull out any clogging debris. Another point where a clog may occur is within the elbow at the top of the spout. This may need to be removed, cleaned, and reattached.

While working to clean the gutters, it is also the best time to inspect and repair them if needed. They should be inspected for any holes, cracks, or dents. Having a hammer and nails on hand to replace loose nails can be a time saver. To repair any leaks that may be found, make sure the gutters are dry. Leaks at the seams and end caps can be fixed by applying gutter sealant along the joints. Taking care of all the gutter maintenance at one time will eliminate having to climb back up the ladder at a later date.

Once all the debris is collected, it can be placed in the trash. Some people may use it for their compost pile.

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