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How and Why It's Important to Clean Your Gutters

Person wearing work glove pulling leaves out of gutter

Autumn brings carved pumpkins, crisp weather, and questions around seasonal household chores. Along with researching how to make a crowd-pleasing spiced cider and the best time to buy holiday plane tickets, home owners should research how to clean their gutters and ward off insects and other pests throughout the fall. To save you time, we’ve compiled a list of six autumn-savvy questions and answers about gutter maintenance designed to help you safeguard your property for fall and beyond.

Why should I clean my gutters?

Showing the downspout of a gutter on the corner of a roof

Gutters are designed to capture water and distribute it far away (a recommended six to ten feet away) from your home’s siding and foundation. Over time, gutters become clogged with debris – loose twigs, birds’ nests, fallen nuts, and other detritus. If gutters aren’t cleaned, they won’t be able to properly transfer water from your roof to the outer edges of your home’s structure, causing water to pool on your roof, near your home, or in gutters themselves. This standing water invites a variety of hazards, including mold on your roof and in your walls, leaky and fallen gutters, a cracked foundation, and an oversaturated lawn that invites weeds, insects, and other pests.

How often should I clean my gutters?

Man using a leaf blower with extension to reach gutter to blow leaves out

To prevent the build-up of seasonal debris, you should use gutter cleaning tools to clean your gutters at least twice a year – once in the fall and once in the spring. If your home is graced with large pine trees or you live in a cold climate, you should consider checking your gutters more often, as pine needles and ice can build up quickly and be especially detrimental due to their volume and weight. If you’re reading this article and haven’t yet cleaned your gutters, we recommend you do so right now!

Can I clean my gutters myself?

Man on a laddle with a bucket pullling leaves out of the gutter while wearing work gloves

Yes. Whether you hop on a ladder or use a gutter cleaning tool kit, you can certainly clean your gutters yourself. Great gutter cleaning tools, like the Toro Gutter Cleaning Tool Kit, maximize airflow to push debris forward so you can clean your gutters without having to leave the ground. If you’d prefer to enlist a pro, you can hire a roofing or siding contractor.

What is the best way to clean gutters?

Woman using a leaf blower with extension to reach gutter to blow leaves out

Cleaning gutters is a simple process, but it can be monotonous and time-consuming. If you have the patience and a ladder, you’ll need a few things: A pair of gloves, a small trowel, and a hose. To clean your gutters without having to climb a ladder, you can pick up gutter cleaning tools from producers like Toro.

To clean your gutters, use your hand and a trowel or a gutter cleaning tool kit to remove debris and place it in bags or toss it to the ground. Repeat this process along the length of your gutters. When you’re finished, run hose water through your gutters to ensure no leaks or blockages remain unseen.

Rake and dispose of the gutter refuse to avoid attracting insects and pests. If your lawn is covered in a more palatable kind of refuse, like acorns, pecans, or walnuts, you can also use gathering tools like the Garden Weasel Nut Gatherer to easily and comfortably pick up nuts, seeds, cones, and fruits.

How can I tell if my gutters are working properly?

Downspout, close-up

If you notice water where it shouldn’t be, like pools of water in your house or your basement, or on your lawn, driveway, or foundation, it may be a sign of clogged or broken gutters. If you see streaks of water on your roof or outer walls, it may be caused by a malfunctioning gutter. To help seal your home’s roof and walls from the damaging effects of water, you can use waterproofing kits like those available from Redgard Waterproofing.

If water doesn’t make it to your downspout, you most likely have a leak in the gutters, which leads to it. Finally, if you notice more pests and insects than usual, it may be a sign that they’ve found a place to roost inside your gutters. All of these issues may signal that it’s time for a more thorough inspection of your home’s gutters.

How long should gutters last?

Showing the roof of a house and its gutters

Depending on the material, gutters should last up to 20 years when properly installed and maintained. Metal gutters are known to last the longest, whereas plastic and vinyl gutters need to be replaced more often. You can also opt to install seamless gutters, which are less likely to leak, and gutter guards, which can help prevent detritus from building up in your gutters.

However you choose to clean your gutters this fall, Do it Best is dedicated to helping you and your home weather the weather. Find more fall-inspired products like the Toro Gutter Cleaning Tool KitGarden Weasel Nut Gatherer, and Redgard Waterproofing materials online or at your locally-owned Do it Best store!

 

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