How To: Clean Your Gutters

clean your gutters

It is easy to put it off, but cleaning your gutters is a necessary job that keeps them working properly. Gutters get clogged with leaves and other debris over time, so it’s best to clean them regularly to avoid more difficult work later. The good news is that it’s easy to clean your gutters. We dig into how today.

Why is it Important to Clean Your Gutters?

A home’s gutter system controls the flow of rainwater from the rooflines. This protects your home’s roof, walls, foundation, and landscape. 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. Gutters filled with debris can also make homes for rodents and other pests. Neglecting gutter maintenance can lead to costly repairs down the line.

You should clean your gutters at least twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall. If you have pine trees near your home, needles will need to be removed every three months to reduce the potential for clogging the gutters and downspouts.

Should Your Gutters Be Replaced, Repaired, or Cleaned?

Regular maintenance will make your gutters last longer, but at some point, they’ll need to be replaced or repaired. Below are a few signs that will help you determine what to do.

Cracks or Splits

Even small cracks will grow, allowing water to seep into the fascia boards behind the gutters, the shingles above the gutter, and the foundation below. Replace any split or crack sections of the gutter.

Paint Damage or Rust

The paint on your gutters is weather resistant. Peeling paint or rust shows that water is present on the surface continuously. Look for clogs and remove debris to get the water flowing. Replace or touch up the paint on the damaged section of the gutter.

Standing Water or Mold

If you see standing water or mildew near the foundation, it can show that the gutters are clogged or there could be a defect in the gutter system. Remove the clog. If the problem persists, replace that section of the gutter and downspout.

Water Damage

Inspect directly beneath the gutters on a dry, sunny day for any evidence of water damage. Water damage underneath gutters can indicate that they are leaking or overflowing with water. Look for blockages in the area. If there are none, this shows that the section has a crack or a leak which will need to be repaired or replaced.

Sagging Gutters

Gutter sag is a definite sign that it’s time to replace gutters. Gutters should never sag or pull away from the house. Sagging gutters means it is no longer draining properly and needs to be replaced. This may be a good time to look into upgrading your old gutters.

Practice Ladder Safety

In order to get to your gutters to clean them, you are going to need to work with a ladder. Here are some tips for ladder safety:

  • Never climb above the second to last step.
  • Do not extend your reach.
  • Use a stepladder on the solid, level ground whenever possible.
  • Use a ladder stabilizer if using an extension ladder.
  • If you are not comfortable with ladders, hire a professional. 

How To Use A Ladder Without Damaging Your Gutters

There are a few ways to clean with a ladder that won’t damage your gutters. Here they are:

  • Proper ladder positioning.

Try not to lean the ladder against the gutters. This will do damage to the gutters because of the pressure created. Instead, place the ladder against the wall. Use a ladder leveler to stable your extension ladder if you are on uneven ground. 

  • Using a ladder stand-off.

A ladder stand-off is a tool that fits on your ladder and helps you position it without touching the gutters. It protects the gutter and improves the stability of the ladder. 

  • Using proper length ladder.

Don’t use a ladder that is too short. Don’t use a ladder that is too long. Both will cause problems. For a single-story building, the size of the ladder to clean gutters is 15 to 17 feet long. For a two-story building, the ladder needs to be 19 to 22 feet long. 

  • Use a ladder gutter protector.

You can use a ladder gutter guard to protect gutters from the ladder. The ladder gutter guard prevents the ladder from shifting sideways, thus preventing gutter damage. It also protects the gutter from getting bent and scratched. 

  • Secure tool placement.

Take steps while working to ensure that the tools you are working with don’t fall into the gutters. Tools can cause substantial damage and even ruin the entire guttering system of the house. 

How to Clean Your Gutters and Downspouts

Regular and thorough cleanings help to keep gutters in their best shape. It requires only a few tools and a few hours.

Gutters should be cleared out in the early spring to prepare for spring and summer rains. They should again be cleaned in the early fall to wipe out any leaves or other debris that accumulated during the warmer months.

Do not clean your gutters right after a rain. Allow a few days for the gutters and debris in them to dry out. This makes it easier to clear out. Start your cleaning near the downspout and work towards the closed end. 

What You’ll Need: 

Rubber Gloves

Work Gloves

Gutter Tools

Safety Glasses

Garden Hose

Leaf Blower

Pressure Washer (optional)

Mold and Mildew Cleaner (optional)

Caulk (optional)


Trowel or Gutter Scoop

The Process

Use one bucket for debris as you move, and the second to hold your tools. Hook the buckets to your ladder for easy access. A tarp underneath your working area works fine for this, as well. Wear safety glasses to keep dried leaves and other debris out of your eyes. Clear compacted debris by using a trowel. Don’t forget to remove and clean the downspout strainer. 

After most of the debris is removed, flush the remaining bits from the gutter with a garden hose. Start at the far end and move toward the downspout. Use a powerful stream of water and avoid spraying underneath the roof shingles. 

When the gutters are clean, check the downspout for clogs. Turn the hose on and spray down the spout. If the amount of water coming out is less than what is going in, there is a blockage.

When the downspout is clog-free, flush the gutters once again. Check for proper water flow and drainage. Also, look for any leaks at the seams.

Once the gutters are clean, repair any sagging metal.

Give us a call at 636-699-0449 if you need any help with your gutters. The best way to keep your gutters working well is to clean your gutters. For the best job done, call Second To None!