How to Clean Gutters in 2022 (And Not Break Your Neck)

Image from Canva

It’s that time of year again—gutter cleaning time.

You dread it.

Cleaning gutters is one of those things that needs to be done, like getting your teeth cleaned only without a ladder.

You could hire someone to clean your gutters, but we’re in a recession right now.—every penny matters.

Plus, how do you know if they’re doing a good job? Can you see into all of your gutters from inside the house?

They say, “if you want something done right, do it yourself.”

Follow along to learn how to clean gutters in 2022 (and not break your neck) safely and effectively.

Let’s jump right in (well, don’t jump. You need to be in one piece to do this job).

The Importance of Gutters

Gutters serve a purpose.

They act as a catch and diverter of excess water from roof runoff when it rains and from melting snow.

Without gutters, cascading rain runoff from roof edges and valleys can act like a waterfall and cause depressions in the soil around your home. Over time, these depressions will become pooling areas like a tiny “moat” around your house.

Excess water around the foundation is a bad thing. Water is a great destroyer and will find ways to get into your basement; worse, it could loosen the soil and cause excessive settling, leading to cracks and warping of the interior structure.

Gutters clogged with leaves and twigs can damage your roof as well. A clean gutter in colder regions is essential.

Melting snow on a roof takes longer and forms ice dams at night from clogged gutters. The slow melting and refreezing can create ice sheets that crawl up the roof and get under shingles which can cause leaks and damage the roof.

Keeping gutters clean and diverting water away from the home is essential for properly maintaining your home.

Types of Gutters

In general, there are two types of gutters;

  • K-Style Gutters
  • Half Round Gutters

K-style gutters are the most commonly installed on homes. When viewed from the side, the gutter resembles the shape of the letter “K.”

Half-round gutters are “half-moon” shaped.

Parts of a Gutter System

  • Gutter: The gutter is a long and horizontal structure that catches rainwater.
  • Downspout: The downspout is the long vertical metal pipe attached to the end of the gutter that diverts rainwater and runoff away from the foundation.
  • Elbow: The elbow is the bent connection from the gutter to the downspout. Elbows come in different shapes that align with the angles of the roof and siding.
  • Pipe Cleats and Straps: Downspout cleats are metal straps or hooks that secure the downspout to the side of the home. Some cleats are metal brackets that look like a horseshoe that locks into place with a cleat “key” that resembles a flat-head nail.
  • End Caps: End caps are installed on the end of metal gutters.
  • Ferrules: Ferrules are long, hollow tubes that spikes are put through and that attach the gutter to the fascia of the home.
Image of Ferrule and Spike from Amazon

Gutter Materials

Gutters are constructed in various materials, depending on the age and region where the house is located.

  • Wood
  • Aluminum
  • Zinc
  • Steel
  • Vinyl
  • Copper

Each material has its pros and cons. Wood needs more maintenance and is extremely heavy.

Aluminum is lightweight, less expensive, and won’t rust but can be easily bent and dented.

Zinc doesn’t rust, but it’s heavy and pricey.

Steel is very strong, but can rust, and it’s super heavy.

Vinyl is lightweight but brittle when it dries out and can crack easily.

Copper is beautiful and has a patina when aged, but it’s the most expensive to install.

Gutter cleaning tools

“Ready-made” tools and accessories are available to assist with gutter cleaning, and a few you can DIY at home.

  • Jet Nozzle: attaches to the end of a garden hose, amplifying water pressure and creating a jet-like stream of water.
Image from JetNozzle
  • Powerwashing gutter cleaning wand: Attaches to a pressure washer for blasting and cleaning gutters.
Image from Amazon/Styddi pressure washing attachment/check price at Amazon.com
  • Leaf blower gutter attachment: attaches to a leaf blower for removing leaves and debris with a blast of air.
Image from Amazon/Worx blower attachment/check pricing at Amazon.com
  • Gutter scoop: a handheld plastic scoop that fits into narrow gutters for removing wet leaves and twigs.
Image from Amazon/Gutter scoop/check pricing at Amazon.com
  • 5-gallon bucket and pot hook: attach a 5-gallon bucket to your ladder with a painter’s “pot hook” and scoop wet leaves into the bucket as you move along the gutter.
Image from Amazon/Paint pot hook/check pricing at Amazon.com
  • Poly tarp: use a small poly tarp to catch debris scooped out of the gutter.
Image from Amazon/Blue tarp/check pricing at Amazon.com

Bonus DIY Gutter Cleaning Hack

Make your own gutter cleaning vacuum system. Watch this video to learn how.

Ways to Clean Gutters

There are a few methods of how to clean gutters in 2022, depending on where you live and your type of gutters.

  • Cleaning gutters from the ground
  • Cleaning gutters from a ladder

Let’s look at each method, and then you can see which one is right for you.

How to clean gutters from the ground

Cleaning gutters from the ground is an option. It can be a messy option but still an option.

There are two methods for cleaning gutters from the ground;

  1. Clean with a water-pressure washer
  2. Clean with a leaf blower

Pressure Washer Cleaning

Image from Canva

The pressure washer cleaning method is the messier of the two options. It involves connecting a garden hose to a high-pressure washer and using a specially designed wand, or gun, to blast leaves and debris out of the gutter.

The end of the wand is U-shaped to blast the inside of the gutter and the downspout connection.

Wear protective clothing and eyewear during the process. Depending on the psi of the machine, debris will blast out of the gutter in all directions.

The result is a spotless gutter but messy raking-up wet leaves. Also, the surrounding roof and sidewalls will need to be washed to remove the mess caused by the pressure washer

Leaf Blower Cleaning

Attachments are available for leaf blowers with connections, much like the power washer wand, where the end is U-shaped for blowing leaves and debris out of the gutter.

YouTube video of Worx Gutter Cleaning Kit.

Leaf blower cleaning is OK, as long as the leaves inside the gutter are dry. If the leaves are wet, the blower may not have the power to blast out damp and heavy leaves. Pick a dry stretch of weather before using the leaf blower option. Remember to wear a hat and eye protection.

DIY Hack: Homes not surrounded by trees and dying foliage are less likely to have clogged gutters. To see if your gutters need cleaning, you can tape a handheld mirror to the end of an extension pole and use it to inspect them.

How to clean gutters from a ladder

No matter the method used to clean gutters, a homeowner should follow proper ladder safety. Consult or hire a professional to clean the gutters if you’re not experienced or confident enough to work from a ladder.

Do not use a step ladder for cleaning your gutters. Step ladders can easily tip over and can’t be placed against the side of the house to allow the proper spacing to work on the gutters.

Ladder Safety Accessories

Ladder Stabilizer: A ladder stabilizer is your best friend when cleaning gutters. It attaches to the end of an extension ladder and balances above the gutter and onto the roof or sidewall below the gutter. This position allows for stable and safe access to the gutters from above for proper cleaning.

Image from Amazon/Werner ladder stabilizer/check price at Amazon.com

Gutter guard: A gutter guard fits inside the gutter to protect it from scratches and dents caused by ladders. Resting a ladder against a gutter is dangerous. Without the guard, a ladder can slide along the gutter’s edge, leading to accidents or injury.

Image from amazon/check price at Amazon.com

DIY Hack: Use a crowbar and hammer to secure the ladder’s bottom rung to prevent the bottom from kicking out and sliding back.

YouTube video of crowbar and hammer safety hack.

When cleaning the gutters, wear vinyl gloves and eye protection.

Image from Amazon/Check pricing at Amazon.com

Step 1

Place the ladder, with the stabilizer attached, to the roof area above the gutter at the farthest point.

Step 2

Climb the ladder with the 5-gallon bucket, pot hook, and gutter scoop. Attach the bucket to the ladder using the pot hook.

Scoop out the leaves and debris from the gutter and into the bucket.

If uncomfortable with the bucket method, place the blue tarp beneath the ladder, scoop out the debris from the gutter, and toss it down to the tarp below.

Step 3

Work your way from the farthest point toward the downspout.

Clean around the downspout and, as far as you can, inside the elbow connection (if there is one).

Tap the elbow with the scoop and listen for a hollow sound inside the elbow. If it sounds dense, the elbow could be impacted and must be removed and blasted with a hose to loosen and remove debris.

Step 4

Use a garden hose (or from the ground with a hose and attachment) to clean out the length of the gutter and downspouts.

Image from Canva

Repeat the process for all gutters.

Step 5

As you clean the gutters with water, inspect for leaks and proper water flow.

The gutters should be sloped to divert water towards the downspout. If the water flow stops and pools in the middle(forming a belly), you should adjust the gutter to slope downhill.

Image from Canva

Bonus step

While on the ladder, clean the gutter exterior to remove dirt and mildew. You can coat tarnished and sun-dried gutters with exterior acrylic latex paint that matches the existing color.

Maintaining your gutters

Installing DIY gutter guard mesh covers or leaf guard systems will guarantee never having to clean your gutters again.

Amazon image/Check pricing at Amazon.com

If the leaf guards are not an option, consider installing simple aluminum mesh leave strainers on all downspout holes. They will allow water to flow through the downspout until the gutters can be cleaned appropriately.

Amazon Image/Check pricing at Amazon.com

Wood gutters should be oiled after they are cleaned. Raw Linseed Oil will protect wood gutter interiors with a film and won’t dry out like boiled linseed oil. For the best protection, oil your wood gutters twice a year (Spring and Fall).

The best options for how to clean gutters

Now that you know how to clean gutters in 2022 (and not break your neck), which option will you try?

You’ve got all the information you need to decide which method is best for you.

Now you can safely clean your gutters and save a few bucks.

Who doesn’t like to save money these days?

Let me know which option you’re going to use.

Please tell me what you think. You can read more at: https://homeimprovementsdiy.com

Disclaimer: homeimprovementsdiy.com participates in Amazon Associates Affiliate Program, designed for publishers to earn fees by linking to products for sale on Amazon and other affiliates.

FAQ’s

What’s the best way to clean gutters?

There are several ways to clean gutters, both from the ground and using a ladder. The best option depends on the amount of debris and leaves you usually experience and the moisture content. The dryer the debris, the easier it is to remove. However, wet and clumpy debris is much harder to remove and would require the use of a pressure washer or ladder to clean your gutters.

What’s the easiest way to clean gutters?

Dry leaves are the easiest to remove from gutters, so the leaf blower option would work fine. But, if there are heavier twigs, branches, or wet leaves, it may be best to use the pressure washer attachment or clean the gutters using a ladder.

Can you clean gutters from a ladder with a pressure washer or leaf blower?

The short answer is yes. But it’s dangerous to carry heavy equipment and tools up a ladder and work from heights. Also, a pressure washer has a “kick” every time you depress the trigger on the gun, which can push you back and could result in a fall. Unless a leaf blower is cordless, carrying a heavy machine up two stories with a cord hanging down can be dangerous. Do not attempt these methods unless you are a seasoned professional.

Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *