May 31, 2021

How to clean your gutters

7 Important Gutter Cleaning Tips For The Winter Months

The winter months are here and if you have not already, now is the time to start thinking about gutter maintenance and how to clean your gutter.

Your gutters are a vital part of your home's structure. They keep water away from the foundation and help prevent possible water damage to your roof by diverting rainwater runoff.

However, these systems can also be prone to clogging or other problems that need repairing.

You should have them inspected on a regular basis for any issues so they don't turn into an even bigger problem down the road.

There are seven important tips for homeowners during this time of year when it comes to cleaning gutters- and we will discuss them in detail below:

Why is it Important to Clean Your Gutters?

Your home's gutter system controls the flow of rainwater from the rooflines. This protects your home’s roof from water damage.

However, if your gutters become clogged or damaged, it can be a serious problem that will result in significant water entering the home’s foundation and structure.

Clogs are often caused by excessive debris like leaves, twigs, dirt, pine needles and more. These items form a dam at the bottom of the gutter and cause water to back up.

The buildup can also be caused by kinks in the downspout, which forces water back up into your gutters.

If left unchecked for a long period of time, it will lead to leaks around windows, doors or other areas that may not have been properly sealed and maintained.

Regular inspection is essential to ensure that the gutter system is functioning properly and there are no signs of damage or wear-and-tear.

If debris builds up in them, it could lead to sagging gutters, mold growth, wet basements, a leaky roof or water damage to the interior or exterior of your home. 

If you have any doubts about what needs to be done, consult a professional for advice on how best to handle it. 

How do I clean my gutters safely?

You should have your gutters inspected at least once a year, and cleaned as needed.

However, during the winter months it is especially important to ensure your gutters are kept clear of debris so how do you do this?

Well the first thing to bear in mind is safety first.

Here are the steps I recommend you take when it comes to cleaning your gutters yourself...

  1. Use a ladder. Do not climb up onto the roof to clean the gutters.
  2. Use the correct type of ladder for the job. My recommendation would be to use an extension ladder that can extend at least three feet above the level of the gutters. Do not be tempted to use an A-frame step ladder for this job as it will not be tall enough or stable enough.
  3. Make sure your ladder is set on stable ground. If the ladder is even a couple of inches out of vertical (side to side) this disparity will be magnified as you climb higher on the ladder.
  4. The base of the ladder should be far enough away from the house so that you can climb without falling off backward. Yet it should not be so far that the legs slip out. The classic method for judging ladder angle is to stand facing the ladder, toes against the ladder legs and arms extended horizontally. If your fingertips touch the rails of the ladder, this is the correct angle.
  5. Use a ladder stabiliser to rest the top of the ladder on the roof ridge.
  6. When climbing the ladder, always keep your body between the two side rails.
  7. Keep at least one hand on the ladder at all times.

What tools should I use to clean my gutters?

Before you consider cleaning your gutters, it's important to make sure you have the right tools.

  • A ladder that's at least as tall as the gutters you're cleaning and sturdy enough to support your weight
  • Heavy Rubber Gloves: Avoid using surgical-type latex gloves - these are usually too thin and may tear. For best results, use heavy rubber gloves that cover the wrists.
  • A bucket for holding your tools safely whilst you work as well as for placing the debris you collect when cleaning the gutter.
  • Rubbish bags or other waterproof receptacles for storing gutter debris, preferably large ones like a heavy-duty contractor rubbish bags.
  • Some type of protective eyewear: Safety glasses, goggles, or a full face shield depending on how high you are working from.
  • A garden hose long enough to reach to the gutters when attached to an outside tap. With a nozzle to wash away the dirt and debris: do not use any kind of detergent as it will clog up your gutter system.
  • Clean cloths or paper towels for drying purposes only - these should never be used on dirty surfaces that may contain lead paint, asbestos fibres or other poisonous
  • Gutter Trowel: Long plastic scoops, thin enough to fit in gutters, can be purchased inexpensively at the likes of Bunnings etc. However, if your tiles extend too far over the gutters, you may not be able to use a trowel.
  • Putty Knife or Old Spoon: Or you can use any hand implement that can scrape sediment from the bottom of the gutters.
  • Floor-length Apron (optional): An apron can protect your legs and clothes from contact with debris in gutters or roof valleys. Choose an apron made of heavy, long material to guard against splashing by rainwater and gutter debris.

How often should gutters be cleaned?

As a general rule, we recommend cleaning your gutters twice a year, minimum – once in early summer, and once immediately after autumn finishes.

The winter weather we experience here in Melbourne can wreak havoc on your gutters. Fallen leaves and twigs, ice, snow, rain – all these things contribute to clogs that cause leaks in the downspout or gutter system.

Clogged gutters = water damage.

Depending on other factors however, you might have to clean out your gutters more frequently.

If you live in an area with a lot of trees and brush, your gutters are likely to clog up more frequently than those who live in more urban settings.

If the roof is sloped or has many gables on it, this too will cause your gutters to fill up quickly.

In these cases, we recommend that you clean out your gutters once in early summer, and again immediately after autumn finishes.

We also recommend doing some periodic gutter maintenance this winter season:

  • check for clogs throughout the year (in particular around leaves changing colour)
  • clean out debris from inside of downspouts if you find them to be blocked up

What happens if you don't clean your gutters?

If you aren’t cleaning your gutters and drainpipes on a regular basis during the year you may suffer from the following:

  • water running down the side of your house, which can cause dry rot around windows or doors
  • clogged gutters and drains in the basement will lead to sewage backup into a home causing structural damage.
  • your roofing, shingles, soffit, and fascia boards becoming soft and water damaged

These issues can spread to the foundation of your home and cause costly repairs.

Gutter cleaning is an important part of yearly maintenance for your roofing system, so make sure you pop down a reminder on your calendar to clean your gutters at least twice a year

What is the fastest way to clean gutters?

The quickest way to clean your gutters by hand is to make sure you have the right tools available - you’ll need a ladder, bucket, gutter scoop (or garden trowel), and heavy-duty work gloves.

Little by little, take out the leaves and debris, placing what you remove into the bucket.

Finally, flush the gutters and downspout with water until you are certain both are functioning properly. 

Tip: If your downspouts are clogged and you don’t have a power washer, try busting through the obstruction with a plumber's snake then rinse with a hose.

Consider installing a screen or barrier on top of your gutters—known as gutter guards to prevent leaves and debris from accumulating over the course of the year.

How much does it cost to have someone clean your gutters?

If you don't fancy doing the work yourself, consider hiring a professional to clean your gutters.

The average cost for an annual gutter cleaning ranges from $150-300 per house and the gutter cleaning costs depend on a number of factors as no two jobs are alike.

One reason why one gutter cleaning job will cost more than another is the length of the guttering. A small house can be cleaned fairly quickly, while a larger house will take more time.

Is your house a single storey or is it a two storey house? Two storey houses generally cost more to clean because the guttering is higher.

Do you have a tree next to your house or do you want the gutters cleaned under it? Gutters that are near trees can be more difficult and time-consuming, so they will cost extra.

Are there any hills around your property? The slope of your land also affects how much work needs to get done to ensure it's safe.

A steep slope, or one with a lot of trees and brush will be pricier than other types.

Prices are based upon the difficulty of the job and the estimated time it will take them to complete the job.

Gutter cleaning is an easy chore to put off, but it’s important for the health of your home and property. 

This article has outlined 7 tips that will help you keep your gutters in good shape this year. 

Keep them clean by following these simple steps or if that sounds like too much work and you want someone to make your life more manageable while also saving you countless headaches in the future, then give us a call.

With over 3 years of experience in Melbourne's roofing industry, we can help you find the best service for your budget and needs. Call today!

Our roof repair specialists provide high quality, professional and cost-effective services.

If you have any questions about roof repairs, or would like advice on how to maintain your roof, feel free to call Nick on 0422 903 522 or click here to send a message and I will be more than happy to help.

Alternatively, if you would prefer to hire an expert to clear your gutters or to check out your roof, click the button below to request a free roof inspection.

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If you would like to hire an expert to inspect your roof and give it a clean bill of health, click the button below to request a free roof inspection.

About the Author

Nick Herrick is the owner of Herrick's Roofing a respected roofing contractor who services residential home owners in Croydon and Melbourne's Eastern Suburbs. Nick and his team can handle all issues with your roof.

Nick Herrick

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