How to Clean Your Gutters

Late fall is the perfect time to clean your gutters, the trees should be done dropping their leaves and snow has not begun falling. Clearing out your gutters before winter may save your home from winter water damage. If there is any debris in your gutters, snow and moisture can accumulate past your gutter edge, exposing your roofline or siding to water damage. This water seepage might not be detectable until the snow melts.

Safety tips for using a ladder

There is always risk when getting on a ladder, we put together a ladder safety blog for homeowners to prevent injury. As Co-founder of Canopy, Ryan Scheeler says “The best ladder safety tip for homeowners to not get on one when it can be avoided, call a professional for larger or higher jobs” If your gutters are particularly difficult to clean out, consider installing gutter guards , or have them installed by a professional. Gutter guards prevent leaves, debris, and animals from getting in your gutters. 

Dress for the job

Wear gloves and warmer clothes that can get dirty, debris in gutters can be messy business. Debris can also be pretty wet, especially at the end of fall, be careful climbing up and down a ladder with wet hands, try to remove wet gloves when moving the ladder. Don’t wear clothing that could potentially snag on tools, gutters, or the ladder, this could cause a fall or damage to your home.

Tools for gutter cleaning

There are plastic Gutter Cleaning scoops that can collect a lot of debris in one swipe and are shaped to fit the rounded or flat bottom of a gutter. Many homeowners use a gloved hand to clear out debris. If you have a long enough extension hose for your shop vacuum or leaf blower you can try to blow the debris out. Read all the safety warnings on your ladder to make sure you are following the weight parameters when using a shop vac or leaf blower. Be sure to wear eye protection, when air is blown in an enclosed space, like a gutter, the debris can fly towards you. Do not use any tools in a way that could dent or puncture your gutters, this could lead to major water damage later on.

New gutter cleaning tools

A few robotic companies have come out with a robot that cleans gutters automatically. iRobot has a model that slides right into your gutter and with a flexible fan like propeller, moves along your gutter spitting leaves and debris over the side of the gutter. You do, however, still need to climb up a ladder to your gutter to place the robot inside.


Once all the debris has been removed from your gutters, it is time to make sure there is nothing obstructing your downspouts. There typically are a few “elbows” on downspouts, these turns in the spout is often where clogs occur. Sometimes lightly tapping on the outside of these elbows loosens up the debris enough to fall out, don’t use anything that could dent your downspouts. A good way to make sure your downspouts are clear is to use a garden hose and use it almost like a plumbing snake: start at the ground level and push it up the downspout, if you are met with any resistance, turn the hose on to use the water pressure to break-up the blockage.

Look for roof and gutter damage

Cleaning out your gutters puts you in a good position to look for any damage to your roof and gutters. Gutter damage is not always easy to spot, of course if gutters are coming away from your house or are visibly dented from the outside this is clear gutter damage. However, some gutter damage may not be noticeable until you start cleaning out the gutters, like dents or obstructions.  If you notice loose or uneven gutters, this may prohibit water from flowing easily to the down spout. Do not place your ladder against any uneven or loose gutters.

Roof damage can be harder to spot than gutter damage, look for any sagging or darker spots along your roof. Never put weight on areas that are discolored or sagging; these areas may not be able to support weight.  If you see any spots like that or if any shingles are missing/damaged, call a roofing company to do a free inspection, we do not recommend getting on your roof to inspect damage.

After you’ve cleaned out the gutters, a good test to see if water flows easily through the gutters and to the downspout is to place a bucket under the downspout and pour a measured amount of water through the gutters, take note of how long it takes and how much water ends up in the bucket. If the water level is significantly less than the water you poured into the gutter, there is a place along your gutter system that is stagnating. Pooling water in your gutters could cause major problems down the road. If the water just takes a long time to collect in the bucket, this could be an issue if your area has heavy downpours. In either case, any reputable professional who installs gutters will give you a free inspection to find out exactly what the issue is.

Once your gutters are cleaned out and ready for winter, it’s time to start thinking about putting up Holiday decorations

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