Gutters and downspouts are designed to channel water off your roof and away from your house. This helps prevent basement flooding and protects windows, doors, foundations, and siding from water damage. To work effectively, gutters and downspouts must be free of leaves and debris. If they aren't, water fills the gutters, pools up and rusts metal or rots wooden cutters, overflow, and eventually pulls gutters free from their mountings. Sounds nasty doesn't it? There is a better way.
Plan to clean your gutters at least twice a year. Increase the frequency if you have many trees depositing leaves on your roof. You probably already have all the tools required, but a general tool list consists of study gloves, a strong ladder, safety glasses, garden trowel or large metal spoon, garden hose with a high pressure attachment, caulk, and possibly a plumbers snake.
Place your ladder against your house (never directly on a gutter or downspout) climb up and start by removing any large debris by hand or with a garden trowel. Wet down any caked on dirt to loosen it up and scrape it off with the spoon or trowel as well.
Once complete, you can then move on to inspect and clean the downspouts. Run your garden hose down the downspout and gently turn on the water. If the downspout is plugged and debris cannot be removed with running water through it use the plumbers snake to dislodge any remaining debris. BE GENTLE! Gutters and downspouts are not as strong as a house pipe and can be easily bent or damaged.
Now that you have cleaned out the gutters and downspouts you can flush any remaining debris out using the garden hose. Blast water into your gutter working toward the drain outlet. This is also a great time to place caulk on any leaks that you notice in your gutters or downspouts. Mark the location of the leak with chalk, allow the gutter to dry completely and seal the leaks from the inside with caulk.
To make the gutter cleaning process easier next time, consider purchasing a leaf catching system for your gutters. Most systems are relatively inexpensive and can drastically reduce the amount of debris that collects in your gutters.
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