While surveying our homeowners earlier this year, we found that homeowners’ one chore at the bottom of their list for home maintenance was cleaning their gutters. Not too surprising, it’s not like we haven’t all seen TV shows Dads and teens fighting about this chore for years. But when we asked some of our homeowners, one-on-one, about their aversion to tending to their gutters, most homeowners said they didn’t know where to start. We can absolutely help with that. Keep reading for some tips to make gutter cleaning day, an easy one.

Pick a Good Day

Cleaning your gutters on the right day can make all of the difference if you are going to have an easy experience or a tough day. Seasonal changes are usually the best because the weather can be the most temperate at these times. Keep your eye on the weather report, and choose a day where the temperature will be pretty mild and there isn’t any chance of wind or precipitation. The weather is essential to ensure not only the success of your project, but also your safety.

Work Clothes Ready

Cleaning your gutters will undoubtedly be a dirty job. Even if you choose a hot day, it is still a better idea to wear a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy work pants, closed-toe work shoes, work gloves and don’t forget the sunblock. Some people also like to have a toolbelt to be hands-free while climbing up and down the ladder. Wearing a hat is also recommended, but at the end of the day, just do whatever you can to be as sun-safe as possible.

Tools Checklist

Besides a great work wardrobe, getting the proper tools together will make for an easier job.

  • First make sure you have a sturdy, extendable ladder. For additional safety, especially if the area immediately surrounding area of your home, where the gutters are, is uneven in any way--invest in a ladder stabilizer.
  • An outdoor broom. To make sure you won’t see your gutters immediately dirty right after cleaning, sweep your roof ahead of time. Some people sweep directly into their gutters or onto the tarp below. Either way, just do it safely.
  • To remove the debris from the gutters, you can either get yourself a gutter scoop, but some use an old plastic kitchen spatula or even a child’s beach toy shovel to get the job done.
  • To protect your workspace, grab an extra-large tarp and large landscaping garbage bags. These items will make sure you don’t spread one mess from your gutters into another one you will have to clean up on your lawn and landscaping. 
  • A bucket. Experts recommend a 5-gallon bucket, but it will depend on what you are most comfortable going up and down the ladder with.
  • Lastly, get your garden hose. This is to finish up the entire project by flushing your gutters and making sure your gutters are completely clean and clear of debris.

Prep the Area

When prepping your workspace, start by not doing any extreme lawn or landscape work or clean-up until you have completed your full gutter clean-up. Then spread your tarp out underneath your workspace, making sure your ladder is in the best position (the proper height and on steady ground). Lastly, work out a routine of carrying your tools up and down the ladder so you can do it as safely and quickly as possible. It is best to work “top-down,” so start by sweeping all of the leaves and debris from your roof before beginning your gutter cleaning.

Get Cleaning

Start small to get comfortable with your setup and routine to make sure you aren’t rushing. Little by little, scoop the leaves into piles in the gutter and remove while wearing your gloves and put them in your bucket. Make your way around the circumference of your home, wherever your gutters are, making sure to get as much of the clutter and debris out as you go.

Once you have finished going around your home, get back on your ladder to flush the gutters and your downspout with a garden hose. 

Pro Tip: If your downspout is blocked, you may have to bust out your plumber’s snake to clear any obstructions. Then just rinse with a hose again to make sure everything is officially clear.

Finishing Up

You have gone all the way around your house, and you can see the downspouts are clean and clear. But we all know that no project is complete until everything is cleaned up and put away. First, make sure all of the leaves and debris you’ve removed from your gutter are in your large landscaping garbage bags, that they are tied up and ready for waste management to come to pick them up. Then put your tools, including your tarp, away in their proper places. Finally, walk the perimeter looking for any rubbish that may have escaped your first pass at cleaning up to ensure you haven’t missed anything.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

To be sure, even though cleaning gutters is an absolute in seasonal home maintenance, it will always be a bit of a production. To cut down on some of the laboriousness, there are some devices you could invest in to help you work smarter, not harder--saving you time, energy and in some cases, money in the long run.

Gutter guards are easy to install, big on positive results, and the solution to not having to clean your gutters as often. In most cases, gutter guards simply snap into place and immediately prevent things from accumulating and clogging your gutter system. Plus, another lesser-known significant benefit of gutter guards is that they also stop insect and vermin infestations.

Another device, new on the scene, is gutter cleaning robots. These remote-controlled devices travel down the gutter troughs once they are in the gutter, breaking up clogs and clearing debris. These are best for people who have health issues and have no business being on a ladder.

Once you have done it one or two times, you will see that cleaning your gutters isn’t as bad as some make it out to be. This item on your home maintenance checklist is definitely worth the effort. The immediate benefits are adequately preventing rainwater from gathering on the roof and moving it away from the foundation and doing away with clogs that could create ice damns during the cold weather months. Keeping your gutters clear also doesn’t allow for any insects or other creepy-crawlies to set up camp. Lastly, doing this routine maintenance also enables you to make any repairs and inspect your roof and gutters to stay on top of the condition of your home.

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