How Often Should Gutters Be Cleaned?

a clogged roof gutter full of water and leaves

Your roof gutters do hard work to protect your roof and your home in general. By funneling all the water that falls on your roof towards the downspout and away from your home, you avoid water pooling on the roof or drenching the foundation. But for all the work your gutters do, they need care, too. Gutter maintenance is an essential part of any home maintenance plan, including setting up a gutter cleaning schedule.

This, of course, begs the question: how often should you clean your gutters? In today’s blog, we’ll help you develop a gutter cleaning schedule as well as break down how to clean your gutters. But first, let’s discuss why roof gutters need to be cleaned in the first place. 


How Gutters Get Clogged

Your gutters surround the roof of your home, catching any water runoff during storms and funneling it away through their system to a “downspout” that points away from the house. In doing so, less water reaches the foundational soil, and your siding is less likely to become swollen, rotten, or warped. 


However, water isn’t the only thing that runs off the slope of your roof. Debris such as fallen leaves and twigs, shingle granules, and more tend to make their way into your gutters. Some of this might be washed away with the water, but others will remain in your gutters. In fact, damp leaves will stick to your gutters more than dry leaves would. If you don’t occasionally clean them, you will eventually end up with clogged gutters, unable to take in water run-off. And that water will either pool on your roof or run along your walls to your foundational soil. 


Making a Gutter Cleaning Schedule: How Often to Clean Your Gutters

The general rule of thumb is to clean your gutters at least twice a year. However, if you have nearby evergreen trees that tend to shed pine needles, you may want to clean your gutters every few months rather than twice a year, as you’re likely to experience more debris. 


When making a gutter schedule, you should consider cleaning your gutters once in the spring and once in the fall. This is when they’re likely to experience the most water intake, as well as the most debris from nearby trees. And, of course, if you experience something like an intense storm or a recent issue with your roof, you may need to clean the gutters after that time to make sure there wasn’t any damage. Choosing a dry day will make it easier on yourself as well as making the debris easier to scoop up and dispose of. The earlier in the season, the better.

man cleaning debris from gutters


How To Clean Your Gutters

So now you know how often to clean your gutters, as well as when to clean them. The next thing to address is how to go about cleaning your gutters. This job typically takes between half an hour and an hour and a half. Before you start cleaning, you’ll need:

  • A ladder
  • Protective eyewear and gloves
  • A trash bag or bucket
  • Gutter scoop
  • A tarp


Once you have all the right equipment, you can begin gutter cleaning. Here are the steps you’ll need to take for each gutter cleaning:


#1 – Preliminary Measures

Lay a tarp down below the area where you plan to start working. This will keep any excess debris from falling onto your lawn, flowerbeds, or foundation while you’re cleaning. You should start near the downspouts, though you may need to move the tarp as you move on to other sections of the roof. Make sure your ladder is level and firm before you begin your ascent to the gutters.


#2 – Scoop and Trash Debris

With the gutter scoop in one hand and a trash bag in the other, scoop up debris and drop it in the trash bag or bucket. Make sure not to extend your reach and to stay firmly planted on the ladder step as you work. Repeat until the section is clear, and then move on to the next section until the gutter is free of debris. If your bucket or trash bag fills, feel free to dump it on the tarp below so that you can keep going. 


#3 – Flush Your Gutters

Think about cleaning your toilet pipes. You may need to use a plunger or a drain snake to fix the clog, but when all is said and done, you still need to flush the drain to ensure that anything clinging to the sides goes, too. It’s the same with your roof gutters. Take a garden hose with a spray nozzle on it if you have it. This time, start on the far end and move towards the downspouts. Turn on the water and let the power of the hose wash away any debris clinging to the sides. 


#4 – Clean Up Around

Your gutters are clean! Now you just have to clean up the workspace. Pick up the tarp and toss all of the debris that had fallen. You may need to hose down your siding walls a bit or do a little window cleaning to get rid of any debris that may have drifted down in the process.


What To Do If Your Gutters Are Damaged

During your gutter cleaning, you may notice scratches or cracks in your gutters that could wear down their ability to funnel water away from your house. Use a sealant to patch these up when you can. If you notice your gutters are warped, coming away from your house, or rusted, you may need to have some repair done or replace your gutters as a whole to improve the quality of your home.


Make Gutter Cleaning Easier For Yourself — With Gutter Caps

Gutter guards can help to reduce the maintenance required in cleaning your gutters. These caps go over the top of your gutters and filter what gets in. The point is to allow water into your gutters while keeping debris out. This will help your gutters to perform better, as well as extend the life of your gutters. You only need to clear off the gutter caps’ surface occasionally; making maintenance easier and less time-consuming. 


Have any questions about your roof gutter maintenance or installing gutter caps? Contact Jancewicz & Son today to learn more. 


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