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homeowner cleaning their gutters, which are full of leaves

Gutter cleaning is important to keep water away from the siding, foundation, and basement. It also prevents wear and tear that can cause your gutters to fail prematurely (gutters have a lifespan of about 20 years). Standing water in the gutters can also attract mosquitoes and other pests.

Make sure you clean out your gutters at least twice a year — every fall and spring when debris is most likely — to keep water flowing freely off your roof. The only problem is that cleaning gutters is one of homeowners’ least favorite chores.

Depending on the size of your building, professional gutter cleaning can cost you anywhere from $100 to $1000. There are gutter screens and guards that keep leaves and debris out, but they still require a good rinse with a hose at least once a year.

Gutter Cleaning Tips from the Pros

Cleaning gutters isn’t the most exciting way to get ready for fall, but it is more important than you know. Luckily, cleaning gutters is a pretty easy task that can be completed in an hour or two.

Consequences of Clogged Gutters

If your gutters are clogged or damaged, rain can flow over your windows, doors, and siding, leading to rotting fascia, door and window framing. Gutter and downspout overflow can erode the soil near your home and damage the foundation. This can lead to water in the basement, causing issues with mold and flooding. 

One of the simplest ways to keep water out of the home is by keeping the gutters clean. Learn how to prevent basement flooding.

Here’s a list of things you can avoid by maintaining clean gutters:

  • Basement Flooding
  • Foundation and Driveway Damage
  • Landscape Destruction
  • Water Damage
  • Mosquitoes and Pests
  • Algae and Moss
  • Mold and Mildew
  • Roof and Gutter Damage
  • Rotting Soffits

Gutter Cleaning Tips from the Pros

To keep you gutters clear and free-flowing, here are gutter cleaning tips from the pros. But first, some gutter and ladder safety tips.

Gutter Cleaning Safety Tips

  1. Use a safe, solid ladder. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Learn ladder tips from the National Safety Council.
  2. Don’t overreach. You should always have at least 3 points of contact with the ladder at all times.
  3. Wear thick work gloves, safety glasses, and appropriate clothing. Avoid baggy and loose-fitting clothing. Choose closed-toe shoes with good traction.
  4. Be extremely careful around safety lines.
  5. Use a trowel instead of your hands to clean out the gutters.
  6. Work with a partner. Even if you’re comfortable using a ladder, a partner can help keep the ladder steady, clean up debris, and contact someone in the case of an emergency.

Finally, don’t bring a bucket or garbage bag with you up the ladder. The more stuff you have with you on the ladder, the likelier you are to injure yourself. You can try to dump the debris into a large garbage can below, but don’t worry about missing. You can always sweep everything up later.

How to Clean Gutters

Clean your gutters in the fall, before winter weather makes it difficult and uncomfortable. Check the gutters again in spring, after all the snow and ice has melted.

  1. Choose a pleasant day with low winds.
  2. Find a sturdy ladder and a helper.
  3. Use work gloves to remove leaves and other debris from the gutters.
  4. Look for leaks, misaligned downspouts, failing joints, excessive rusting/corrosion, and missing/loose support brackets. Many gutter repairs you can make yourself while others may require the assistance of a professional.
  5. You can also check the slope of the gutters to make sure that the gutters are sloping toward the downspout. If the gutters are completely level or sloping the opposite direction, you can adjust the hangers if necessary.
  6. You can place gutter guards or screens over the gutters to help prevent future clogs. You will still need to check and clean them at least once a year.

How to Unclog Downspouts

  1. Make sure the downspouts are clear by flushing them with water. Wrap a large rag around the mouth of the hose and insert it into the downspout opening in your gutters.
  2. Adjust the rag until it completely fills the downspout opening. Then, turn the water on full blast to help flush the downspout.
  3. If water is infiltrating the area adjacent to or below the extension you may need to do some minor excavation to direct the flow of water away from the house.

Consider Downspout Extenders

Traditionally, downspouts release water very close to the foundation, with maybe a splashguard that helps direct the water, but where does the water go after that? 

If there is no hardscaping to carry the water away from the home, the water simply sits near the foundation, while gravity works to bring it straight into your basement. We recommend using downspout extenders, especially when there are heavy rains.

Contact Sobieski Services for all your HVAC and plumbing needs. We’ve been installing, repairing, and maintaining residential HVAC systems in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey for over 30 years.

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