Estimated reading time: 7 minutes.
Roof and gutter cleaning are your home’s first line of defence against bad weather.
Without proper gutter care, the integrity of a house can go from reliable to dangerous very quickly.
Staying on top of your gutter maintenance means actively protecting your home from water damage and preventing the need for any expensive repairs further down the track.
This article has everything you need to know about gutter cleaning, including why it’s essential plus step-by-step instructions for doing it yourself.
In this guide on cleaning your gutters, we’ll explain:
- Why clean gutters are crucial protection for your home (and wallet)
- How to clean your gutters:
- Safety first
- What you’ll need
- The steps
- Alternative methods
Let’s get started.
How Clean Gutters Can Save Your Home (And Your Money)
Are you cleaning your gutters?
How often? Once a year, maybe less?
Your gutters are the first line of defence against harsh weather damaging your home, and they need to be taken care of to do that job well.
That means being cleared out a few times a year, and definitely after a storm.
And remember, it’s not just the walls of your house that are shielded by efficient guttering.
Proper water drainage protects your roof and sidings, driveway and footpaths, basements, and potentially the landscaping around the house too.
With clogged gutters, you could get:
- Internal leaking.
- Structural damage to the house.
- Weakened foundations.
- Soil erosion.
- Rusty gutters and rooftop.
- Flooding around the home.
- Cracked or shifted concrete.
- Rotted wooden decking and furniture.
- Increased risk of fire.
Subtle as the humble gutter may appear, a clean one can mean the difference between a safe home and a dangerous one.
It can also be the difference between a healthy savings account and a drained one – pun intended.
Can I clean my gutters myself?
You should only clean your gutters yourself if you are confident with working on a ladder for extended periods.
We would strongly recommend using a professional.
- You are unsure what to do.
- You don’t feel comfortable working at heights.
- There are areas around your home with uneven or loose terrain that would make ladder work difficult.
- The weather is especially windy, rainy, or snowy.
- You do not own a ladder or other necessary equipment (listed below).
- You have a physical condition or impairment.
If you do decide to tackle roof gutter cleaning yourself, be sure to follow all the steps and safety precautions mentioned in this article.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to break down the gutter cleaning and repair process.
Gutter Cleaning 101: A Step by Step Guide
First, we’ll look at some safety elements you should consider if you’re planning to clean your roof gutters yourself.
Gutter cleaning, like any work that involves heights, tools, and debris, can be dangerous if not done right.
Stay safe cleaning your gutters with these tips:
- Use an extension ladder for high rooftops.
- Do not walk on the roof unless absolutely necessary – leaning down on a sloped roof to reach the gutter is a recipe for nasty accidents.
- Clear the roof of any debris before cleaning your gutters.
- Wear protective equipment and sturdy footwear, as listed in the below section.
- Let someone know where you are at all times.
- If possible, never set your ladder up in front of a doorway that somebody might use.
- Try to pick a clear, windless day for working.
- Always set your ladder up on an even surface.
Most importantly, always exercise caution when working at heights.
Use your common sense; if it feels unsafe, it probably is.
What you’ll need
Make sure that before you start, you’ve got everything you need ready to go.
The essentials you’ll need for cleaning your gutters:
- A ladder (extension ladder if working on a high roof).
- Footwear with grip.
- Sun protection.
- Safety glasses.
- A trowel, gutter scoop, or spatula.
- A bucket, tarpaulin, or tub (for storing the dirt and debris from your gutters).
- A hose.
You may also wish to use a leaf blower, power washer, or wet/dry vacuum to make the process a little less manual.
We’ve assumed you might not have access to these items in our steps below. However, there is advice for these methods at the end of this article as well.
The steps for DIY house gutter cleaning
If possible, do not clean your gutters on a rainy day.
The ideal time to clean them is in the early morning or late afternoon, after several days without rain.
As well as being safer, this will make them easier to clean as the debris will have had time to dry out.
With that said, let’s dive into the steps.
Step 1) Prepare the environment
Assuming you’ve already cleared your roof of any extra debris, set up your ladder near the downspout.
If you are working with a bucket, rest it on the roof (if it is flat enough), at the top of your ladder (unless using an extension ladder), or close by on the ground with a mat underneath it.
If you’re working with a tarpaulin or some other debris-catcher, set it up close to the ladder.
Put on your rubber gloves, safety glasses, grippy shoes, and sun protection.
Step 2) Clear debris from the gutters
Beginning near the downspout, work towards the closed end.
Use your hands to scoop the bulk of debris from your gutters, dumping it into your bucket or onto a mat as you go along.
For the more stubborn bits of dirt, use a gutter scoop or trowel to scrape them from the gutter. Be careful not to damage the gutter as you go.
Step 3) Clean the downspout
Remove the downspout strainer and scoop out any leaves and debris that are easy to reach from the bottom.
Next, run a garden hose through the top of the downspout to clear it of any extra leaves.
If none come out, try gently tapping the outside of the downspout to knock the debris inside loose. Then flush it again.
Step 4) Flush the gutters
Once all debris has been cleared from the gutters and downspout, attach a spray nozzle to your garden hose.
Starting at the far end, use the hose to flush any remaining bits of dirt towards the downspout.
Make sure that the water is running smoothly out of the downspout. If it isn’t, you may have another clog.
Step 5) Check for leaks and gutter damage
Finally, perform a careful inspection of your gutters.
If there are any visible cracks, leaks, areas in which the water does not flow smoothly, or weakened supports you will need to find someone that will repair the affected areas.
Other Ways To Clean Your Gutters
If you’re a fan of gadgets, you might enjoy these other gutter cleaning methods.
Use a leaf blower
It’s possible to clear your gutters using a leaf blower (instead of your hands).
Simply follow the above steps, substituting the hand cleaning parts with using your leaf blower.
If you decide to try this method, it’s important to remember:
- Leaf blowers can be heavy, so watch out on your ladder!
- Blow away from the downspout to avoid clogging it with loosened debris.
- You will likely still need to use a trowel or gutter scoop to remove the condensed debris and damp leaves from your gutters.
Use a wet/dry vacuum
Vacuum gutter cleaning is possible through the use of a wet/dry vacuum. And, with the right attachment, it can even be performed from the ground.
Of course, you’ll still need a ladder to check your work and make sure there are no damaged areas in your gutter system.
But this technique is still great for those hard-to-reach areas and is especially useful when it comes to clearing your downspout.
Use a power washer
By attaching an extension or telescopic wand to your pressure washer, you’ll have another method for cleaning your gutters while staying on the ground.
However, this method should never be combined with standing on a ladder. The force generated by the pressure washer could easily knock you back from the ladder and result in serious harm.
Just like the other gutter cleaning techniques, begin at the downspout and work your way towards the closed end.
Get your gutters cleaned professionally
If you’d like help with cleaning your gutters, we have the team and tools to do a great job. Find out more here.