Gutter cleaning and gutter maintenance are an important part of your home. Gutters are the collection system, on the edge of your roof. They are designed to change the direction of water that is running off your roof to the downspouts. Without gutters, the water would run off your roof in curtains. Unfortunately, your gutters are also a great place for debris like leaves, twigs, and dirt. If too much debris collects in your gutters, there is no where for the water to go and it becomes essential for you to clean your gutters. Gutter cleaning is not a fun task, but it is something that every home owner has to do for many reasons. This article, will give you come useful gutter cleaning tips and suggestions about gutter cleaning.
Why is Gutter Cleaning Important?
Although gutter cleaning is a laborious task, if you do not complete it you could end up with much bigger issues. Gutters are the 1st line of defense against erosion of soil around your home’s foundation. A gutter system is supposed to carry water running off your roof to down spouts so it does not saturate the soil located around your house. If that soil is over loaded, then you run the danger of getting the foundation wet. A foundation subjected to water can lead to a wide variety of other issues.
When water comes across a barrier, it will look for the path of least resistance to continue. If that barrier is your foundation, water can find its way into small cracks in the foundation. As water moves into the crevices or cracks in the foundation, it will find another barrier because the cracks do not go all the way through the foundation. Therefore, the water will forced backwards out of those crevices and cracks taking small pieces of your foundation with it. Every time water flows over your gutter system and finds its way into the foundation, it erodes away at your foundation. After a period of time, the water will find its way through the cracks in your foundation and water will leak into the basement. Water in the basement of your home can lead to problems with mold, mildew, and other bacteria.
If your gutters are blocked that also means they are heavy, too heavy, in fact. The fasteners that are used to attach your gutters to your house can’t hold up against the additional weight of a gutter system that is full of wet leaves and debris. When your gutters are too full they start to pull away from your home. If they aren’t in position to catch rain water running off the roof, the problems to your foundation and possible sinkholes are even more of an issue. Not to mention that a gutter that has pulled away from the house in an eye sore and the falling gutters could get in the way of your security solar lights. Your house will look very unattractive and not well taken care of. If you are thinking of selling your home, gutters that are sagging or out of position could be a deal breaker.
How to Clean Your Gutters!
Luckily, the process of cleaning out your gutters is not a difficult one. However, it may be a bit time consuming and unpleasant, definitely not hard. The tools you need to clean gutters are things that you probably already have around the house. Even though there is specialized gutter cleaning equipment out there, it is not necessary to do an adequate job at gutter and downspout cleaning.
The first thing you will need to clean your gutter is an adequate ladder. Make sure that you are using a ladder that is sturdy, preferably, leaning it up against a solid surface. Never lean the ladder against the gutter system. The gutters will buckle under the pressure of a person climbing on a ladder. Also be sure to only clean the gutter sections that you are in your immediate reach. Unfortunately this means, you will have to keep climbing up and down the ladder, moving it after you clean each section. An alternative that might make the gutter cleaning go faster is a scaffolding system. Scaffolding is a modular system of pieces made of metal that support people when they are working up in the air. Metal is the most common material of construction, but you can find scaffolding systems made of other materials or a combination of wood and metal. While you will be able to reach more of the gutter system before having to move the scaffolding, there is a downside in that it takes time to construct the scaffolding.
Once you can reach your gutters for cleaning, you will need some kind of gutter cleaning tool to clean out the debris. The cheapest way to clean your gutters is with a bit of old fashion elbow grease and a pair of work gloves. That’s right, your hands are an effective gutter scoop. You will definitely need a pair of gloves, though. You do not want to be touching the moldy leaves and possible bacteria that may have contaminated your gutters. The one problem that you might run into with your hands in a pair of gloves is that your progress will be slow. You can only pick up so much debris at a time with the hand. An alternative to using your hands is using a gutter scoop.
To speed up the process you can buy tools made specifically for cleaning out gutter systems. They are scoops with high sides to allow for maximum capacity and thin enough to fit into your gutter system. Make sure you measure your gutters before purchasing a gutter scoop because they come in a variety of sizes. Not only will you be able to pick up more debris at a time with the scoop for gutter cleaning, but your reach will be extended. There are long handle gutter cleaning tools that allow you to increase your reach up to two feet in both directions. A long handle and high capacity will make the gutter cleaning process go much faster.
As you are cleaning out all of the dirty leaves, twigs, and other debris that clog your gutters, where do you put it. There are two choices. First, you could just throw it on the ground as you go. Then, you can walk around your house picking up the debris later. Or, you could take a garbage bag with you when you go up the ladder. That way, you can throw away the debris as you go. There are advantages to both methods. Not having a garbage bag with you on the ladder allows you to work with both hands more easily. You will be able to clear debris much faster. On the other hand, walking around your house later to pick up the debris on the ground, will just add time to the chore anyway.
Once you scoop out all of the large pieces of debris, you might find that there is a residue on the sides and bottom of your gutters left behind. A slimy layer of mold or mildew could be coating your gutters. While this may not obstruct the flow of water, it will give off an unpleasant odor. It is important to clean this residue out as well. For that, you should use gutter cleaning brushes. Of course, there are brushes marketed specifically for this purpose, but any brush that will fit into your gutters will get the job done. Gutter cleaning brushes with longer handles and a round head are best so that you can reach as far as possible without moving your ladder or scaffolding and so that you can scrub in all directions without having to move the position of the brush in your hand.
If you want to skip all the steps that require you to scoop and scrub debris, then you might want to look into using a pressure washer. Pressure washer and gutter cleaning will go together if your clogs are not too severe. You can turn the pressure washer on and spray the high powered stream into one end of the gutter system. The high pressure should be able to loosen any small clogs and carry any debris either over the sides of the gutter or to the downspouts. One problem with this approach is that it could create a big mess. As the high pressure water stream goes into the gutter system, it might spray up over the sides carrying debris and mold down the side of your home. Also, most pressure washers do not have a very long hose or handle so you will have to find a way to bring the pressure washer up to the level of your gutters.
If you do not want to wrestle with heavy machinery on a ladder or scaffolding system, then you might look into a gutter cleaning wand. Gutter cleaning wands operate under the same principle as the pressure washing technique, but they are made especially for gutter cleaning. They usually have an extremely long handle so that you can stand on the ground and reach up into your gutters. They spray water under pressure into your gutters in a controlled manner so that there is not too much spill over.
One final alternative is to use a gutter cleaning robot. There are devices out there that are designed to move along your gutter system and clean as they go. Companies like Looj or iRobot make small machines that will fit into the gutters and have brushes on the front that scrub your gutters clean. I would not recommend using a machine like this if you have significant clogs because they could stall the gutter cleaning machine.
Gutter Cleaning Service
The truth is that your gutters should be cleaned twice a year. You should complete this project in early spring to clear out any left over ice and debris that has accumulated during the winter. You should also go through cleaning your gutters in late fall. This is perhaps the most important time of year to clean your gutters because you need to clear out all the falling leaves and things that gather in your gutter system during fall before the melting snows of winter begin to tax your gutters and downspouts. Complete a gutter cleaning project twice a year may seem like overkill, but if you clean them regularly the task should not be too involved any one time. But still, it sounds like a lot of work. You may be wondering if it would be better to hire a professional gutter cleaning service to do the job.
Gutter professionals will also make sure your gutters are attached firmly to your home so there is no separation. Gutters are typically attached to the home with special hangers and the gutter cleaning service will replace them if necessary. They will also level your gutter system so that they are at the proper angles to maximize efficiency. All in all there are pros and cons of both doing the gutter cleaning yourself and hiring a gutter cleaning professional. I solve this problem by hiring a service once every two years. The other three cleanings I do myself. When the professionals come, they take care of the gutter science, and I just make sure that the clogs do not get too bad in the mean time.