Beginner’s Guide to Fall Gutter Cleaning

“Gutter cleaning.” The phrase even sounds unappealing.

Perhaps you grew up hearing your parents and other adults gripe and groan about having to clean their gutters. And this perception may have stuck with you until adulthood when you finally bought your own home for the first time. Since there are a lot of tasks to accomplish and details to work out when you move into a new home, it’s perfectly understandable how gutter cleaning would slide down (or even off) the priority list.

But neglecting your gutters is not a smart thing to do, especially during the fall season. Leaves, pine needles, twigs, and other debris can clog your gutters and prevent runoff water from entering – which could eventually lead to expensive water-related damage around your home.

Gutter cleaning
It’s not going to clean itself, you know.

Preparing for Gutter Cleaning

With a little preparation and perseverance, cleaning your gutters can be a relatively simple chore which can be completed in a few hours’ time. You can start by compiling these items for your gutter cleaning job:

  • Garden spade or trowel
  • Ladder
  • Garbage or lawn bags
  • Brush with sturdy bristles
  • Screwdriver
  • Assistant (if possible)

Now that you have your gear, it’s time to pick out the right uniform. Here’s what you should wear while cleaning gutters:

  • Shirt and pants that aren’t loose fitting (and will protect you from the elements while on your roof)
  • Rubber-soled shoes
  • Work gloves
  • Hat and/or sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Goggles or other eye protection
Gutter cleaning
Looks like she’s just about ready to start!

Ladder Tips and Alternatives

Before you start cleaning your gutters, here are a few words about ladder safety. Believe it or not, hundreds of thousands of people go to emergency rooms in the U.S. every year because they hurt themselves falling off a ladder. Therefore:

  1. Make sure that your ladder is in good working order and that it is always situated on a flat, solid surface.
  2. When climbing up and down, keep at least two feet and one hand (or two hands and one foot) in contact with the ladder at all times.
  3. Have your assistant hold the ladder firmly whenever you’re on it.
  4. Never, lean too far left or right while on the ladder. Take the time to climb down and move the ladder as needed.

Of course, you may be able to avoid climbing on a ladder almost entirely. While standing on the ground, you can take a garden hose with a wand and sprayer attachment and blast the debris out of your gutters. Or you can use a wet-dry vac with a long extension to suck all of the leaves and pine needles out. Of course, these accessories may cost more money than you’re willing to spend.

Gutter cleaning
Teamwork helps, too.

Gutter Cleaning Suggestions

Finally, here are a few more tips to help make your gutter cleaning proceed more smoothly:

  1. Put a large bucket on a ladder hook into which you can place gutter debris, instead of just letting the stuff fall to the ground. Transferring the debris to the bags becomes a lot easier.
  2. Use the screwdriver to tighten any loose screws you see while cleaning your gutters. If you like, have some sealant on hand to plug any gutter cracks or holes.
  3. Always be cognizant of your center of balance when working off the ground. Positioning yourself on the roof is fine if you feel steadier than you do working atop a ladder.
  4. For a better scooping tool, cut the top part of an empty half-gallon milk jug off. It might fit perfectly inside your gutter.
  5. Don’t forget to clean out your downspouts as well. A hose, vacuum, or plumbing snake may be necessary to remove clogs.

Taking this approach might help make cleaning your gutters less of a burden and more of a simple maintenance task while enjoying the fall weather. You may even stop viewing gutter cleaning as a filthy, cumbersome undertaking like you did before.

Now unblocking a septic system – that’s REALLY nasty!

Written by Chris Martin

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