Welcome to the only guide you will ever need on how to get those rain gutters free of dirt, leaves, sticks and other debris. As a homeowner myself, I know what a pain in the neck this can be.
In this article, I will make sure to go over best practices, safety, reasons as to why we need to keep those gutters clean and clear, and also things you can do to make the process easier the next time around.
So, let’s get our minds into the gutter and internalize the best way to keep them clean and neat.
Why Clean Rain Gutters?
A rain gutter that is clogged with debris can cause your roof to leak or even bring water damage to the inside and outside of your house.
Gutters are important to have on each and every home around the world. They are a means of controlling the flow of water brought by the rains and their job is to guard your foundation, landscaping, walls, and roof from H20.
But when we fail to clean these out, the problem becomes worse than imagined. Vermin like rodents as well as bees and pests like to make their homes inside the gutters, too.
And with them being up so high, it’s easy to pretend there’s no problem at all, and just let it all fall by the wayside.
Gutters should be cleaned up each year. It also depends upon where you reside.
Experts recommend doing this task in the fall, when the leaves are done coming off the trees, or in the spring, when the “maple tree spinners” fly all over and land in our gutters, flower boxes and other nooks.
Based upon how often the leaves fall, as well as the variety of leaves you have, can be used to determine how often the gutters should be cleaned.
About every four months, depending on the types of trees nearby, is appropriate. In some climes, leaves are falling year-round. In others where there are no trees around your house or leaves do not fall, once a year is okay.
How to Clean Rain Gutters on a 2 Story House
The best thing to do is pick up the phone and have a professional come in to clean out the gutters. He or she will have the tools, insurance, and safety gear needed to do the job with expertise.
These professionals will also do a good job of cleaning your downspouts, too. Downspouts should not be neglected, as this makes it hard for the rain to drain, which causes backups, overflows, and damage to the home and the gutter.
However, some of us may have experience or the ability to clean these gutters ourselves, and now we will talk about safe ways to go about it.
How to Clean Gutters Yourself
Never work alone. As you set out on this task, make sure you have a friend or family member nearby who can call for help if needed. After all, this task will involve climbing a high ladder.
Begin by dressing appropriately for the task at hand. Make sure you are wearing rubber gloves as well as a long-sleeved shirt.
For this task, you will also need to make sure you have a reliable and safe ladder. You can also make use of standoff stabilizers, sometimes called “horns”, to avoid damage to your gutters from the ladder’s use.
Make sure you are equipped with the correct tools. You can use a small plastic shovel to do this. You can use one that you would find with a toy sand shovel, or even buy a gutter scoop. Here is a cheap and useful one right on Amazon.
If you prefer to recycle or do not have the ability to get to the hardware store, you can make a scoop of your own using a plastic gallon milk jug. See the instructions here.
Lay down a plastic tarp so that others can clearly see where you are working, and you do not muck up your lawn with the gutter debris.
Lastly, take the garden hose back up with you and spray the downspouts so that you remove any leftover debris. Keep an eye on the outside as you do this – you can see any leaks that must be addressed.
What About Leaf Guards?
Whether you call them leaf guards or gutter covers, these are wonderful tools that really exemplify the phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
I highly recommend installing gutter covers as a means of slowing down the need to clean your gutters out as often.
These will not prevent the gutters from being clogged ever again, but they will slow down the process. You can install gutter covers in many different forms. There are options like porous foam, mesh screening, or even grates that clip right on.
Covers still do need maintenance to stay clear, and the cost of attaching them may even be more than the gutters alone. You should estimate about $8 per foot for gutter covers.
Instead of having the gutters cleaned out every four to six months, you would only need to clean these out every one to three years. The quality of the leaf guard or gutter cover you install, as well as the types of trees you have in your backyard, will affect how often you need to maintain the gutter covers.
And even if you do choose to install these, it is a good idea to have a look at them at least once per year to ensure all is well. Despite being great ways to prevent debris and such from getting into your gutters, it is important to stay on the up about their care.
The pricing surrounding different types of gutter guard materials in linear feet is as follows:
- Aluminum Perforated Guards – 50 cents to 1.25
- Plastic Screen Guards – 20 to 40 cents
- Foam Guards – $2 to $3
- Screen Guards, Steel – $1.50 to $3
- Brush Gutter Guards – $3 to $4
- Steel gutter guards, Micromesh – $2 to $4
- Solid Surface Guards/Helmets – $4 to $7
We have already covered some basic safety tips for working on your gutters. However, I would like to share some more ideas that could save your life.
- Always make sure somebody knows you are going to be climbing and working on a ladder/the gutters.
- Make sure the ladder you use is safe, sturdy and can hold 5-gallon pail to collect debris you cannot fling down to the tarp. Secure this bucket using a lanyard.
- Do not use wooden ladders or orchard ladders.
- Take breaks due to muscle fatigue and general exertion. It is easier than you think to become lightheaded and weak no matter how young, strong or in shape you are.
- Use an aluminum ladder if possible as it is lightweight and also sturdy.
- When you make use of a step ladder always double-check that the extension hinge arms are extended fully and also locked in.
- Wear safety goggles. You never know when a wasp or bee will come out and try to sting, or if something should fly up and hit your face.
- Wear thick rubber gloves or suede gloves. These will withstand the sharp things sometimes found in gutters like glass shards, but also protect you against bacteria-laded bird droppings, dirty water, and other undesirable things.
How Much Does a Professional Cost?
The pricing will vary based on your local area. However, a typical homeowner can expect to pay about $50 to $250. It will depend upon factors such as the height of your home as well as its size.
A typical 2-story home measuring 2500 square feet would cost, for instance, about $250. Be sure to ask for a quote first.
If you are a senior citizen, veteran or student, ask if any discounts are available. Some companies will offer them; others may not.
You will want to choose a cleaner who has insurance and experience doing this task. A good contractor will have no qualms about providing his or her insurance info, as well as experience. Be sure to ask friends and family about who they use.
Hiring a reputable contractor will get you a thorough removal of leaves, debris, and other blockages. They will bag up the waste and flush your gutters. They may also reseal the end caps and tighten fasteners. Be sure to ask about this or have them add it on for an additional fee.
Cleaning gutters is no easy task. Even if you are hiring a contractor to do the work for you, you still have to read reviews, make sure they are properly insured, and available on the day that works for you.
Doing it yourself is fine too, but you should always make sure to put safety above all else. Although this is a rather boring chore, it is best to grin and bear it, so you don’t have a bigger problem later on.