Gutter Cleaning: The Best Way to Get Your Gutters Clean 

With the days continuously growing longer, it’s apparent that spring is on the horizon. The imminent change in the season not only brings us ample daylight, warmer weather and pretty flowers, but also the opportunity to tackle much-needed household maintenance.

The list is long, projects such as household organization, lawn fertilization, roof inspections, etc. just to name a few. Of these tasks, one we see that holds critical importance is that of gutter and downspout cleaning and inspection.

gutter cleaning

A household gutter system might seem rather straightforward but if its components are neglected, the system will no longer be able to effectively do its job causing wide-ranging problems in and around the home.

One common issue is the deterioration of the fascia board behind the gutter often caused by clogged or improperly sloped gutters. Fascia board damage can cause roofing leaks which is a much more complex and expensive process than taking the preventative measures to ensure its condition by properly cleaning and inspecting gutters.

So how does one effectively clean their gutters? What are the best methods? What tools are needed? We’ll answer those questions, ensuring you protect your investment in your home over the long run by learning proper gutter cleaning practices.

A New Method

In recent years, a lot has changed in the gutter cleaning industry. In years past (and to this day without the right tools) gutter cleaning was an extremely robust and dangerous process that brought fear to many homeowners.

The process included moving heavy extension ladders around the home scraping the debris out of the gutter by hand, little by little. However, with enhanced product research and design there’s now a better way.

A vast array of companies have come up with systems to reach and clean gutters from a ground level position. Whether it be extension tubes hooked up to leaf blowers, Shop Vac extensions or water-based solutions, the opportunities are endless

The Shop Vac Method

The Shop Vac method utilizes a controlled flow of debris through the piping, right into the machine. This system allows for minimal post-project cleanup other than inside the pipes and the Shop Vac itself for its next use.

Another benefit is the safety of this method. In most instances, this method eliminates the need for ladders or to physically get on to the roof of the home.

The CDC reports that falls remain one of the top cause of unintentional injury mortality, with 43% of those falls coming at the hands of a ladder.  This is an extremely safe method for homeowners who aren’t comfortable with heights and ladders, or those looking to save a few bucks by not calling in professional help.

Now that we know some of the benefits, let’s learn what we need and how to do it.

What You’ll Need

  • Shop-Vac machine (or similar) will need to an opening for hose fit, shouldn’t go under 2” in diameter to ensure debris can flow through smoothly
  • Straight piping extensions equivalent to the height needed to reach slightly above gutters (20’ will be enough for most homes)
  • Gutter elbow attachment with a right angle to connect at the very end of the pipe
  • Duct tape (if you cannot find a complete 20’ attachment you’ll need to use duct tape to connect and hold pieces together)
  • Lawn bags to dump debris if it fills up while working on a large home. If it does not reach they’ll still be good to have in the end to finish of the project.
  • Plumbers snake/clog remover

How It’s Done

Once the piping is properly attached, simply hook it to your vacuum. You can turn on the system while the pipes are still on the ground level to check the strength of the suction.

If not, turn the machine on when it’s in the position you want to start. Make sure you’re consistent in your path. Work directly one way to another to ensure no area is missed. When approaching support brackets of the gutter assembly, simply lift elbowed extensions up and over.

A Few Tips

  • Try to wait for a string of consistently dry days to aid in the effort to pull debris, wet leaves and build up will be much harder to pull
  • If you don’t plan to get up on the roof to check the downspout, wait for a day of heavy rain and see if there is any overflow from the top if the flow looks strong from the bottom
  • If pipes get clogged, use the snake or run water through pipes to clear them out. Also, if the elbow extension gets clogged, you’ll need to bring the pipes down and remove whatever buildup is in that section

Although this is seen as the superior method of safely getting your gutters clean, it doesn’t come without its shortcomings. The main problem this method has is that you can’t ensure that it’s cleaned properly because it’s not visible.

Some companies have responded to this criticism by added attachments for small cameras to see the space above. In case your product doesn’t offer this, we suggest setting up a ladder to visually inspect the area.

seamless gutters

As we addressed earlier, ladders can be very dangerous but, to ensure the gutter is clean, there’s no damage to the materials or any other possible issues, the components must be visually inspected whether that be by you or someone else.

When setting up a ladder, always remember to visually inspect the ladder itself, the ground conditions as well as the portion of the home it’ll be supported against

Start with the condition of the feet of the ladder, are they fully intact? Do they show any signs or rust, wear or improper bend? If the answer is yes, don’t take the chance – either invest in a new ladder for your home, rent one from a local business or contact a licensed professional to complete the work.

After the rails, rungs and rung locks are inspected, check the ground condition for any imperfections. You want the ground to be sturdy and as flat as possible.

Set the ladder up at a 75 degree angle with at least 3 feet above working level. Always use a ladder stabilizer to add stability to your ladder.

Once you have your ladder where you want it and it’s secure, climb up and visually inspect the gutter components. If there’s still debris in the gutter you can tie the end of the pipe used early to a rope and have it thrown up to you or manually pull it up yourself (or tie small blower to a back belt loop or tool belt.)

Once this is done you can rest assured that your gutters are completely clean and functioning as intended. Now all there’s too to do is sit back, relax and wait a couple months until it’s time to clean them again.

Make Sure Your Gutters Are Looking Great

Making sure your gutters are cleaned properly is extremely important. It also rain water to fall away from your home prevent water damage and foundation problems.

Did you know that Feldco offers seamless gutters to Madison homeowners? It’s true! We’ll help you get high quality, seamless gutters which require much less maintenance and have less problems overall.

Get a free quote now and see why over 350,000 homeowners have trusted Feldco with their home improvement projects.

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