It's not a fun chore, but it's an important one. Gutter upkeep is important for all homeowners. Learn some common tips for cleaning your gutters and downspouts.
No one likes cleaning gutters. But while clearing out your home’s rain gutters isn’t a fun chore, it’s an important one that protects your home’s walls and foundation from moisture, mold, termites and rot. The best way to clean gutters is by getting up on a ladder and pulling out all the gunk and sediment by hand and then flushing the gutters and downspouts with a hose. But if you’re not capable of that level of activity, or simply can’t or don’t want to devote a day or two to cleaning out your home’s gutters, then you may be considering paying a professional to do it for you.
Whether you pay someone or DIY it, you need to clean your gutters at least every spring and fall – possibly more often if you have a lot of trees nearby.
Understand the Process
Before you decide whether to hire someone or DIY it, you need to know how to clean gutters.
What does the process require? You don’t need a lot of technical skill. You just need a ladder, a hose, a pair of gloves and, ideally, someone on the ground to help stabilize the ladder.
If you’re using an extension ladder, you should probably invest in a standoff stabilizer – not only will it keep the ladder more stable on potentially uneven lawn and garden soil, but it’ll help protect your gutters, too. You want to finish this job with nice, clean rain gutters, not damage in need of repair.
You’ll probably also want something to catch or collect the debris you’ll be pulling out of your gutters. You can spread a tarp on the ground and just drop the leaves and gunk onto it. If you’re using an A-frame ladder, you can hang a bucket from the hook at the top to collect debris for disposal.
Once you have all your equipment, climb up on the ladder and use your gloved hands to remove debris from the gutters. Then flush the gutters and the gutter downspouts with your hose. Use high water pressure to clear clogs from a gutter downspout. Apply gutter sealant to any leaks.
Before you go out and buy all the stuff you need to clean your gutters, ask yourself if you’re physically up to the task. Are you comfortable on a ladder? Do you understand how to use a ladder safely? Don’t assume that you can clean the gutters from up on the roof – that’s not safe. Know that cleaning your gutters safely will require a lot of climbing back down, moving the ladder, and climbing back up again – you should never try to reach debris if it means moving your waist beyond the two rails of the ladder. If you end up in the hospital, you’ll wish you’d just paid someone.
How Much Does Professional Gutter Cleaning Cost?
If you don’t think you’re up to the task of cleaning your own gutters, or you don’t have the equipment, hiring someone is an affordable option. You can expect to pay $125 to $175 to have your gutters cleaned, which is a lot less than you’ll pay for an extension ladder to get up there and do it yourself.
There are some circumstances under which you might expect to pay more for a professional gutter cleaning, however. For example, if your gutters go all the way around all four sides of your home, you’ll pay more to have them cleaned. The same is true if your roof is very steeply pitched.
If you pay a professional to have your gutters cleaned, you might ask them to inspect at your gutters to make sure they don’t need any repairs, especially if you don’t know how old your gutters are. Most gutter installations are good for about 20 years.
Installing Gutter Guards
Gutter guards may not keep all debris out of your gutter, but they can block most of it. Installing them costs about $6 to $8 a foot, with the average home requiring about 200 feet of gutter guards. That adds up, but it’s an investment that can pay off in the form of not having to clean your gutters nearly as often. You’ll need to maintain them by sweeping off the top of them every few years, but they should last as long as your gutter system does.
Cleaning your gutters is a big job but doing it correctly, thoroughly and regularly is important to keeping your house in tip-top shape. A well-maintained gutter system keeps water away from your foundation, protects your flower beds and keeps moisture, mold and termites out of your walls. Do your house a favor and clean your gutters – or have them cleaned – at least twice a year to prevent costly damage.