There is nothing glamorous or sexy about maintaining your gutters. It's a dirty job and you'll probably end up getting drenched in mucky water and wet leaves if you're not taking your time with it. However, if you don't clean your guttering regularly, it can lead to far more profound problems further down the line.
The water left to sit in your gutters could end up rotting your fascia and the home roofing itself and if they overflow, it can lead to water pouring out into the streets or into your garden below, which could either damage your flower beds - or give you a nasty surprise when you're leaving for work one morning.
Even worse, if water isn't being fed cleanly into the downspouts, it can leak into the foundations of your home, which could mean rot and mould in your basement. So, in order to prevent such a disaster and keep your home safe and clean, here's a rough guide to keeping your gutters well maintained with minimal fuss.
At a bare minimum, you should be looking to clean your gutters at least twice a year - once in the early Spring and once during the Autumn after the leaves have fallen. Of course, the frequency will depend very much on your specific situation.
If, for example, you live in a heavily wooded area or an area that is partial to the occasional major storm - check both before and after you might want to check them much more frequently.
You should always, however, wait until it's dry to clean your guttering whenever possible, as the wetter the debris is, the harder, not to mention the more unpleasant, it will be to remove.
Whilst getting the ladder out can seem like a chore (particularly if you've hidden it away at the back of the garage or the shed), using one to clean your gutters is far safer than doing so from the roof. Make sure you use a ladder with proper supports or that there is someone you trust beneath you holding it steady.
Most importantly, however, don't feel the need to reach out too far, as this can lead to tragedy. Moving the ladder along bit by bit might be a drag, but it's the safest way to operate. If your waist isn't between the rails then you're reaching too far.
Get That Gunk
Don your most comfortable and sturdy pair of gloves or a small trowel and scoop out the debris, beginning where the downspout starts and working along until the gutters are clear, climbing down the ladder each time to move it across section by section. Once the gutter gunk is clear, use a hosepipe to flush the remaining debris until the water is running clear and steadily through the downspout.
Of course, there are other options, such as gutter whiskers and mesh guards to cover the guttering, as well as plastic covers - but these options are unnecessary unless you REALLY hate climbing ladders and dealing with messy leaves.
- If you lay a tarpaulin beneath you to catch the debris, it will save you a lot of messy clean-up time.
- Buckets with handles can often be attached to the top of most A-frame ladders.
- Occasionally, the slope of your gutters might require a minor adjustment in order to keep the downspouts operating properly.
- If dirt has blown into the guttering, you might need to loosen it with a brush before cleaning.
- Check the downspouts regularly for peeling paint, rust, and leaks - and make sure they are still fixed tightly to your fascia. If they come away, it can lead to disaster.