Fish Window Cleaning Blog

Gutter Clearing: DIY Tips & How to Know When It's Best to Hire a Pro
Posted on Friday, April 1st 2022


Gutter Clearing: DIY Tips & How to Know When It's Best to Hire a Pro

As the old saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” But April showers can also bring headaches to homeowners who have clogged gutters. If your gutters need to be cleared, how do you know when to do it yourself and when to hire a professional? The following tips will help you decide which is better for you.
 

Why Is It Important to Clean Your Gutters?

Routine gutter clearing is essential in order to keep your home’s foundation, siding, fascia, and roof free from water damage. Gutters are designed to capture rainwater from the roof and move it through downspouts and away from the foundation. Unfortunately, leaves, twigs, pollen, and other debris can easily clog gutters and cause rainwater to overflow onto the house. While overflowing water may not sound like a big deal, it can cause a great deal of harm.

Roof Damage

When water can’t move through your gutters, it begins to collect in them and weighs them down. That extra weight puts a strain on the fascia (the boards behind the gutters) and on the roof itself. If the gutters get too full and heavy, they can pull away from the house, causing damage to the fascia and possibly tearing shingles off the roof. Even if the gutters don’t pull away, the overflowing water will almost certainly cause the fascia to rot over time.

Siding Damage

As water spills out of your gutters, it runs down the side of your house and can stain wood, vinyl, or Hardie Board siding. Even a brick or stone house is vulnerable since prolonged exposure to moisture can cause mortar deterioration, cracking, and mold.

Foundation Damage

After staining your siding, the water makes its way down to your home’s foundation, where it can cause cracks that could require expensive repairs. Or pooling water can seep into your crawl space or basement, where it can cause mold that might spread into your home.

Other Issues

Besides damaging your home’s structure, overflowing water can wreak havoc on your lawn. Downpours from clogged gutters can wash out flower beds, killing plants and leaving behind nothing but mud. Worse yet, clogged gutters are a magnet for insects and rodents. The standing water attracts ants, termites, flies, and mosquitoes while the leaves and debris that block your gutters make perfect nesting materials for mice, rats, and squirrels.

How Often Should Gutters Be Cleared?

Fortunately for homeowners, the potential problems outlined above are avoidable with regular gutter clearing. Most experts suggest getting gutters and downspouts cleaned twice a year, typically in fall and spring, after trees have shed most of their leaves, needles, or blooms. However, if you have a lot of trees near your home, you may need to clear your gutters as often as every three months. It’s also a good idea to check your gutters after a severe storm if you think there’s a possibility that leaves or branches could have been blown into them.

Should You Clean Your Gutters Yourself?

While gutter clearing isn’t necessarily difficult, it does require some special equipment, a little time, and a lot of patience. You also have to be comfortable working on a ladder. If you decide to clean your own gutters, follow these DIY tips:
 

Get the Right Gear

As with almost any project, having the proper equipment can make your gutter clearing less troublesome. In addition to a reliable extension ladder, you’ll need protective eyewear, a dust mask, heavy-duty work gloves, a tarp, a long hose, something to scoop with, and a bucket. You may also want to get a ladder stabilizer that attaches your ladder to your home to prevent a fall. Finally, be sure to wear work clothes since gutter cleaning can be a dirty job.

Have a Helper Nearby

Even if you have experience using ladders, it’s a good idea to have someone around to assist with the job. If you need help moving or stabilizing the ladder or if you drop something while you’re on it, a second pair of hands is really useful.

Remove Any Debris

Once you’re dressed in your work clothes and protective gear, make sure your ladder is on a sturdy surface. Use a small plastic scoop or shovel to remove the gunk from your gutters. If most of the debris is dry, you can simply use your hands to scoop it out. You can throw the debris in a bucket or garbage bag or toss it onto a tarp spread on the ground. Take your time and move the ladder frequently so you’re not tempted to overextend your reach.

Flush the Gutters and Downspouts

Once the debris is clear, use a garden hose to flush out anything you may have missed. This will also show if you have any leaks or if your downspouts are clogged. If water isn’t draining out of a downspout, you can run the hose at a higher pressure to see if that will remove the clog. If that doesn’t work, you may need to use a plumber’s snake tool to clear the blockage.

Examine Your Gutters and Fascia for Damage

Finally, make sure that your gutters are securely attached to the fascia and repair any minor damage you find. If you uncover severe issues, like rotting fascia or holes in a gutter, you may need to replace the gutter.

When Should You Hire a Professional?

Obviously, gutter clearing involves some risk since it requires spending time on a tall ladder. The CDC reports that in the United States, more than 500,000 people are treated for ladder-related injuries each year, and around 300 people die. If you have a fear of heights or any physical or medical limitations that would make being on a ladder difficult, you shouldn’t clean your own gutters. Additionally, if you live in a two-story or taller home, it’s highly recommended that you hire a professional.

What Qualities Should You Look for in a Professional?

Once you’ve decided to hire a professional to clear your gutters, you want to be sure the company is licensed and insured. A reputable firm will have all the experience and equipment necessary to address your needs, but it’s also a good idea to look for one that offers a free on-site estimate. During this visit, you’ll have an opportunity to ask questions and point out areas of particular concern. More importantly, you’ll receive a breakdown of expected costs, so there won’t be any misunderstandings about the bill after the project is completed.


Why Should You Call Fish Window Cleaning?

For more than 40 years, Fish Window Cleaning has been helping people maintain their homes. When you use our gutter cleaning services, you save time and avoid the hassle and risks involved with doing the work yourself. Our professional cleaners have all the tools and training necessary to clear debris from the hard-to-reach places in your gutters and downspouts. Contact us today for a free estimate and see how we can make your home shine.