spring cleaning gutters

Leaves and other debris in a gutter

Spring cleaning checklists must include cleaning gutters.

Run a ladder up the side for you to precariously balance upon OR do you climb onto the roof itself?

Answer: Climbing on the roof is a better way to go about cleaning gutters.  Assuming that is, your roof isn’t too steep.  The work will go much faster and you can more easily see what you are doing when on the roof.

Take care not to needlessly drag yourself across the roof as you’ll scrape granules off your shingles.  Once in position, use a trowel or a gloved hands to scoop leaves and other debris into a bucket.  Be very careful not to lean on your gutter which will likely bend or break off sending you tumbling over the edge.

Prepare your Super Soaker

On second thought, don’t use a water gun, instead grab a water hose.  After clearing out the bulk of the debris by hand, crank up the hose to run water as forcefully as you can through the gutter.  It will go much faster if you use a nozzle to amp up the pressure.  The water should clear out small debris, dirt, and other junk.

After blasting out the debris, watch the water carefully to make sure the water is flowing down the downspout.  Why?  First, to make sure you do not have leaks or cracks in the gutter itself or where they are joined (i.e. seams).  Second, poor water flow indicates a clogged downspout.  A good suggestion is to come down off the roof and take a quick break so you can check the water from below.  From ground level it is easier to see if the gutter is leaking and if the water is flowing easily through the downspout.  If water is overflowing or if only a small amount of water is coming out the downspout then it is clogged.  You should be able to clear it with water and a broomstick or plumber’s drain snake.

Take advantage of time on the roof.

Sure you could fiddle on the roof; but try to focus on cleaning gutters and looking for problems you cannot easily see from the ground.  What type of problems?

  • Fascia cracks or flashing that is damaged.
  • Missing nails or screws, loose gutters or downspouts, weak joints between gutters, or rust.
  • Branches which are dropping leaves into the gutters or hitting your roof.
  • Missing shingles, wear and tear which needs to be carefully watched, or other necessary roof repairs.

Remember that leaking or broken gutters can not only damage the fascia board but debris can rip the edges of your shingle.  Also, take time to make sure water is not entering your home or pooling somewhere that later will cause major damage.  Finally, walk around your home while looking at the gutters all the time telling yourself, “I won’t wait so long next time.”


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