The outside of your house is just as important as in the inside, and the gutters are no exception.
If guttering becomes clogged or damaged, knock-on effects can be catastrophic to your home’s integrity and value. Rotting fascias, damaged walls, and leaky roofs could all become an ongoing issue if proper gutter maintenance is not observed. Cleaning your gutters can be a lot of work so it may be worth giving this task to a professional gutter company like Gutter Guys.
To maintain effective guttering, regular cleaning and upkeep is required. But how do you do it? Where do you start, and what equipment do you need? Read on to find out!
How to Clean Your Gutters
- Before you get started, it’s important to make sure that you’re comfortable working at heights, and that any ladders or lifts you’re going to be using are in good working order and can be replied on not to break. If you have any doubts about your abilities up at roof-level, or you don’t have the proper equipment, don’t do it! Wait until you’re properly prepared, or call in the professionals.
- So you’re ready to clean! You’re going to need a ladder, platform or lift; a trowel or homemade scoop (milk bottles can easily be cut into effective scoops); a bucket or a garden waste bag, preferably a bucket lined with a waste bag; a spirit level (for repairs); a hose, and a brush, rag, or cloth. If you get up there and find out your gutters and downpipes are seriously clogged, you may need a plumber’s snake to unblock where you can’t reach. It’s recommended to have a helper when you’re working at heights for safety reasons, but they can also save you having to go up and down the ladder to turn off the tap or retrieve anything you may drop.
- If you’ve got gutter guards in place, remove them one by one as you make your way along the guttering while cleaning. Then, simply scoop out as much of the debris as you can and deposit it in your waste bag. The material in question can be recycled or composted, just make sure to check for any non-biodegradable rubbish that may have blown up there first.
- Next, once the gutters themselves are free of debris, you’re going to want to check the downpipes for blockages. The fastest and easiest way to do this is to simply stick a hose down there and have your helper turn the water on to full pressure. Next, check the outlets at ground level (get your helper to do this too!), and you’ll hopefully see water running freely out the bottom, bringing any debris with it. This is where you may need a plumber’s snake. If you find a downpipe that isn’t draining properly, and no debris is coming out from the water pressure alone, there’s probably a serious blockage that needs breaking up first. Jab at it with the snake until you feel it collapsing, and run the water again to flush out and lumps and check the blockage is cleared. If this still doesn’t work, you’ll need to disassemble to downpipe and remove the blockage by hand.
- Now you can give them a good clean. Scrub with your brush or rag and keep the water running to carry away any grime you dislodge while cleaning. They don’t need to be sparkling, no one’s going to see them, but the cleaner you can get them, the better.
- Once your guttering is clear of debris, free from clogs, and cleaned until it looks brand new, you can move on to inspection. Check all the hangers are rigid and taking the weight well, and keep an eye on all the joins to check for leaks. Water is heavy, especially if it’s laden with debris. Hangers are important and should be spaced out at no farther than one every two feet, and within one foot of any joins.
- You may have noticed water pooling in certain areas during the wash-out. If there are sections that hold water, this means that the guttering within the hangers where the water sits is not falling. A fall is a construction industry term to describe the necessary gradient required for water to drain properly. It doesn’t need to be much, about 20mm for every 5m of guttering. If your gutter isn’t falling properly, you will need to remove and reposition the hangers to make sure all the water can drain. This is where your spirit level will come in handy!
- Finally, it’s time to repair any leaky points. These tend to be the sections where to pieces of guttering are fitted together, which are known as joins or seams. Before attempting to repair any leaks, first identify them while the guttering is wet, mark them, then wait for the gutters to dry. Next, apply some sealant to plug the holes. Gutter sealer, caulk, and roofing cement are all suitable for this application, and there are actually ready-made patches available for you to apply over any cracks or loose joints. If none of these stems the flow of water, it is advisable to take apart the two offending sections, clean them thoroughly, then affix them together again using sealant between the two pieces.
And there you have it! Your gutters are now thoroughly cleaned and repaired back to full working order. Make sure you do this regularly, especially after an especially windy or rainy period of weather. You may want to increase your cleaning frequency, or at least check the gutters more often, in the autumn and winter months. Heavy leaf-fall and frosts can quickly undo all your hard work if left unattended!