Step-by-Step How to Clean Your Gutters & Tips to Keep Them Clean

Residential | December 4, 2020  | By: John Esh

Clearing your gutters of debris and built up grime is an important part of home maintenance. If ignored, filled gutters can cause water damage and lead to expensive repairs or even complete gutter replacements in the future.

We would recommend cleaning your gutters twice a year – once in the spring and once in the fall. If you have heavier tree coverage, you’ll likely need to clean your gutters every quarter, or every 3 months. Both frequencies allow you to protect your gutters and ensure their health and longevity.

How to clean your gutters and tips to keep them clean


Preparing to Clean Your Gutters

For most homes, your gutters are reachable with a ladder. For those that are not, we would recommend getting in touch with a professional.

If you’re ready to tackle this maintenance task yourself, here are the items you’ll need to clean your gutters:

  • Step or extension ladder
  • Bucket(s)
  • Trowel
  • Leaf blower
  • Garden hose
  • Spray nozzle
  • Level
  • Drill / Screwdriver
  • Work / Latex Gloves (optional)

Gutter cleaning item checklist


Cleaning Your Gutters

  1. You’ll need to sturdy your ladder on solid ground. For easy access, you can attach your bucket to the side of the ladder you won’t be standing on.
  2. Climb the ladder to the point where you can safely reach the gutters. Clear any large debris like twigs and leaves by hand – this is when we recommend wearing a pair of work gloves to protect your skin!
  3. You’ll blow the air down the gutters toward the downspout. You’ll want to blow the materials away from the roof so you’re not blowing the debris under the shingles. Then, use a hand tool, such as a trowel, to clear the remaining materials.
  4. After you have removed as much organic materials as possible, it’s time to flush the gutters. Start spraying the stream low, angled close to parallel with the gutters so you don’t splash yourself or the shingles with mud. Continue to follow the gutters down toward the downspout so the debris can be washed down.
  5. If you don’t see water escaping through the downspout or there is visible pooling, there is a clog. To attempt to remove the clog, you can remove the spray nozzle and snake your garden hose up the downspout. Turn the spigot on full pressure to have the best chance of freeing the clog. If it isn’t working, you may need a plumbers snake.
  6. Once you’ve cleaned the gutters, go through again with the hose and begin running water through them. You’ll use this flush to check for any leaking which could be a sign of a crack or bad seam. If needed, you can use gutter sealant to fix any minor repairs
  7. Ensure all the gutter fasteners are secured properly to the house. If any are loose, you can use a screwdriver or a drill to tighten them.
  8. Check the slope of the gutters using a level. To prevent water pooling and ensure proper watershed, they should have a slight slope toward the drain. For gutters over 40ft long, each side of the gutters should be sloped toward their respective downspout.
  9. Inspect your downspouts fasteners and look for any visible damage.
  10. If you have a pressure washer, you can then clean the outside of your gutters from the ground. This removes exterior mold or mildew from your gutters and fascia that has grown.


Tips to Keep Your Gutters Clean

Other than manually cleaning your gutters a couple times a year, there are steps you can take to eliminate your bi-annual gutter cleaning chore. You can consider gutter guards, aka gutter covers.


What are gutter covers?

Gutter covers protect your home’s entire gutter system from debris and potential clogs. They sit on top or just slightly in your gutters and are a slit or mesh-like material. Commonly made from aluminum, metal, or plastic, gutter covers are a low-maintenance addition to your gutter system.

Gutter covers/guards protect your home's entire gutter system from debris and potential clogs


Why install gutter covers?

If your home is surrounded by many trees, you should strongly consider gutter guards. Without fail, fall brings thousands of leaves covering the ground and your roof. The wind and rain will rid your roof of the fallen leaves, but many will end up in your gutter. If you enjoy the task of cleaning your gutters, then the trees give you all the more reason to.

However, if you’re looking to protect your gutters from the weight of accumulating leaves or pine needs, gutter guards are a strong option. Many gutter cover companies even offer guarantees, like GutterRX has a 20-year no-clog guarantee.

Choosing the right gutter covers

It can be overwhelming to choose from hundreds of gutter cover options. From different brands, warranties, material type, and color, the decision can be daunting. Have the conversation with your roofing consultant to determine which gutter guard is best for your home and why.

Keep in mind that price does not equal quality and performance. The most expensive may not be the highest performing.

What about downspout strainers or filters?

Downspout strainers/filters aren’t a great investment. While they keep the downspout free of debris, leaves and needles pile up around them causing the gutter to hold water and overflow. This can lead to your gutters cracking or becoming unfastened from your house.

We would recommend installing a full gutter guard system, or nothing.


Joyland Roofing Can Help!

If you have questions or you want a professional to:

  • Clean your gutters
  • Install gutter guards
  • Repair gutter issues

We are located in Elizabethtown, PA, and we are excited to help you! We serve all of Southcentral Pennsylvanialet’s chat!

Speak with a roofing expert at Joyland Roofing


    Pennsylvania Home Improvement Contractor License (HIC) # PA124258