Don’t Skip Your Fall Gutter Cleaning

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    Fall produces tons of leaves in all of its beautiful splendor. However, they will clog your gutter and it can lead to issues in your rainwater drainage system. Don’t worry, clogging and damage to your roof and house are completely avoidable.

    With the right equipment and knowledge, you can clean your gutter for curb appeal, a fully functional gutter system and — best of all — savings on repairs. In fall, it’s imperative to clean your gutters.

    Why Is It Important to Clean Your Gutter in the Fall? 

    The main reason to clean your gutter in the fall is to prevent water damage in the winter when ice dams can form and melt under roof shingles. In general, cleaning your gutter is essential to get the best of these benefits for your home.

    Prevent Water Damage

    Water damage is the biggest issue that can affect your home, both functionally and aesthetically. Gutters direct rainwater off your roof and away from your house’s foundation. This prevents pooling, overflowing and unwanted moisture in your home that can lead to mold, mildew, rotting wood, and structural or foundational damage. Fully functioning gutters are the key to preserving your roof throughout the year — they protect from roof rot, weakened construction and damage.

    Keep Pests at Bay

    A clogged, leaf-filled gutter is a cozy home for birds, mice and squirrels, plus an eventual invite into your home. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects. Keeping your gutters clean will prevent pest infestations and health risks.

    Protect Your Garden

    A clean gutter system means all the shrubs, flowers and vegetable plants will not experience the effects of water overflow like soil erosion. Come spring or summer, you’ll thank yourself for unclogging your gutters.

    Where Do You Start? 

    Taking the best care of your gutters requires a watchful eye. Here are a few things you need to get started.

    Have a Regular Cleaning Schedule 

    Experts recommend you clean your gutters at least twice a year. In the fall, cleaning your gutters and preventing leaf blockages that lead to other problems is crucial.

    If you have a beautiful garden with many trees, cleaning will be more frequent, especially if you have mature trees with high branches near the house. You’ll also need to check your gutter regularly for leaks or clogs.

    Assess Any Damage to Gutter Components

    When checking your gutter, ensure you cover all its components. Check the channel attached to the roof’s eaves for cracks and leaks. You can fill gaps with sealant, but it may be time for a replacement if your gutter starts to sag or leak heavily.

    The end cap closes the gutter to prevent clogging and manages water flow. Practice preventative maintenance by checking end caps for sharp edges and replacing them when necessary.

    The Fascia bracket connects to the eaves and provides structural support to the roof. You should check for splits or holes in the boards before cleaning to see if they need replacement.

    Have the Necessary Tools

    To clean your gutter, these are the tools you need.

    For Ground Cleaning:

    • Leaf blower attachment 
    • Telescopic water pole 

    For Ladder Cleaning:

    • A tall ladder and a stabilizer, especially if you’re going at it alone
    • Protective glasses and water-resistant work gloves
    • Buckets or trash bags to collect debris
    • A trowel or gutter scoop
    • Garden hose with a spray nozzle

    With these tools and knowledge, you’re ready to clean your gutter.

    How Do You Clean Your Gutters?

    There are two main ways to remove debris from your gutters and ensure a thorough cleaning.

    Cleaning With a Ladder 

    Cleaning with a ladder — also known as manual removal — requires you to remove debris with a gutter scoop and use a hose to wash smaller pieces down the gutter.

    Remove Large Debris

    Start by removing large debris such as leaves, twigs and branches from the gutters. Use a gutter scoop or trowel to remove looser matter, and deposit it into a trash bag or bucket. Be careful not to damage the gutter or downspout during this process.

    Flush Out the Gutters

    Once you’ve removed the large debris, flush the gutter with a spray nozzle attached to your garden hose. Work your way from the far end towards the downspout. This will help loosen any dirt or small debris stuck in the gutters. Be careful not to spray water under roof shingles.

    Scoop Out Remaining Debris

    After flushing the gutters, use a gutter scoop or trowel to remove any remaining debris the water didn’t wash away.

    Inspect and Repair Gutters and Downspouts

    While cleaning the gutters, inspect them for any signs of damage, sagging, or holes. Also, check the downspouts to ensure they’re clear. A good way to dislodge clogs is to feed your hose into the downspout from the ground and turn it on at full pressure. If you struggle or find any issues, call in someone to repair them promptly and ensure proper water flow.

    Install Gutter Guards or Covers

    Consider installing gutter covers to prevent clogging and debris. These guards allow water to flow through while keeping debris out.

    Schedule Necessary Repairs and Future Cleanings

    Seal any leaks or damaged joints with gutter sealant. These products typically have instructions to guide you on proper use. Finally, schedule future cleanings to ensure your gutters remain clear and functional throughout the year.

    Some Safety Tips to Follow

    Keep yourself safe with these ladder tips:

    • When you’re on the ladder, ensure you can reach things comfortably and are always below the second-to-last step.
    • Use a ladder stabilizer and have someone nearby for any emergencies.
    • Choose a day with good weather and no wind to prevent flying debris and easier balance on the ladder.

    Cleaning From the Ground

    Staying on the ground is a safer option — it just requires more maneuvering to make it work.

    Use a Vacuum or Leaf Blower Attachment 

    Place the end of the attachment into the gutter and walk along the house to blow debris off. Then, use a rake to gather the matter and dispose of it. A vacuum attachment works well for smaller waste like small dry leaves and dirt.

    Use a Telescopic Water Pole

    This nifty device lets you focus the water stream directly into your gutters. Unlike cleaning them on a ladder, using a water pole requires you to start at the downspout end. After that, you’ll work in the opposite direction to ensure the gutter is completely clean.

    How Do You Know When to Call in a Professional?  

    While you may want to take on this project immediately, if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe with any part of the process, consider hiring professionals to get the job done. If you notice any irregularities or irreparable damage, they can fix them and ensure your gutter system works perfectly. They’ll also be able to deal with pest infestation or difficult clogs.

    Make Time Today for Fall Gutter Cleaning 

    Cleaning your gutters ensures they’re clear of debris and functioning correctly. In fall, it helps to clean them to prepare for winter, avoiding water damage from ice dams and clogs in your drainage system. Overall, clean gutters protect your home, add to curb appeal and prevent pest infestations.

    Author Bio: Evelyn Long is a home living writer with experience in home renovations and home
    maintenance. She is the co-founder of the online magazine Renovated, where she explores
    topics on renovations and maintenance.