Why, When, and How to Clean the Roof Gutters

You deserve a beautiful, restful place to call home, and if things are going wrong left and right—you’re not getting much rest! Carlson Projects, Inc. specializes in roofing, so we’ve got some quality advice on how to make sure that your roof isn’t one of the things that cause you stress. Regular roof maintenance will end up saving you money, time, and anxiety! Cleaning the gutters is an integral part of your roof maintenance. Here we’ll tell you why it’s necessary, when you should have it done, and how to clean them yourself—if you want to, no pressure!

Why you should clean your gutters

You might not have thought that the state of your gutters would have any bearing on the rest of your house, but it does. A wise company once said, “A well-functioning gutter system is vital to protect your home from costly damage and to preserve its structural integrity and value.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

There are several ways that a “well-functioning gutter system” contributes to the protection of your home.

Prevents Water Damage

When gutters or downspouts are clogged, rainwater can back up. The water may gather on the roof, causing rot and leaks. Or it could run down walls, causing damage to the interior and exterior of your home. “Seeping down building walls, rainwater can cause rising mould spores to form on internal walls, insulation, windows, and ceilings,” warns SkyVac. It can also get into your basement and crawl space, where the already prevalent humidity will make it difficult to combat.

Extends the Life of Your Gutters

Debris that collects in your gutters will expand and grow heavier when soaked with water. This weight may be too much for your gutters and brackets. If the gutters are compromised, they could fall off, causing further damage to the house and things surrounding. You’ll have to replace the gutters and fix the damage. When cleaning them, you avoid the accumulation of heavy debris and you’re checking for any structural issues and fixing them before they become a problem!

Keeps Pests Away

The breakdown of leaves in the damp creates an attractive home for insects, birds, and rodents. Two of the three of those will inevitably start venturing inside your home. Additionally, they will all cause further damage to the gutter and roof.

Prevents Foundation Issues

If the gutters aren’t functioning properly, water may be pooling around the foundation. That pooled water can lead to structural issues. It may freeze and expand during the cold months, cracking the foundation. Or it might affect the surrounding ground, leading to settling. Foundation repair can be expected to cost anywhere from $2,010 to $7,717, with minor repairs as low as $500 and major up to $10,000, according to Bob Vila.

Saves You Money

Keeping the gutters in good shape puts less stress on the rest of the house. This will definitely save you money over time! Not to mention the headaches.

When to clean your gutters

Your gutters should be cleaned at least twice a year—in the early spring and early fall. The early spring cleaning will get your gutters clear for the inevitable spring rains. And as the debris accumulates and the trees lose their leaves, it is good to get a fall cleaning. This avoids the combination of debris and melting snow. If you have trees that shed leaves like crazy throughout the year, you’re going to need to have them cleaned more often.

How to clean your gutters

Man on top of ladder, cleaning roof gutters

There are two ways to clean your gutters—DIY it or call a professional. 

If you want to do it yourself, you’ll need:

Extension ladder

Bucket/tarp

Rubber gloves or work gloves & latex gloves (latex gloves under work gloves keep your hands dry)

Trowel/gutter scoop

Garden hose

Spray head

Sealant

Rope and/or a stabilizer to secure your ladder

To clean your gutters:

First, think safety! Always let someone know you’ll be working on a ladder. Or have someone work with you. This is not an easy task and it’s up high. It is vitally important that you have backup if something goes wrong.

Now, place your ladder against the roof, and secure it by tying it to the gutter spikes with a rope. Extend the ladder at least three feet above the gutter in order to get on the roof easily, if necessary.

Then, put on your gear and climb the ladder. You can hook the bucket to your ladder if you feel comfortable moving up and down with something in your hands. If not, simply throw the debris to the ground (on your tarp) and pick it up later.

Once you are comfortably at the gutter, start removing the debris with the trowel/gutter scoop or with your hands. As alternatives, you could use a leaf blower or power washer, however, these make the process more clumsy and messy.

After all the debris you can grab is cleared, use your garden hose to spray water down the gutters. Move along deliberately through each section, removing any remaining debris, and checking for leaks and clogs.

Next, remove and clean the downspout screens. Check your downspouts for clogs as well. Attempt to clear any clogs with the hose at a high-pressure setting. Spray from both ends of the downspout to dislodge. If it still won’t clear the clog, try a plumber’s snake.

Finally, check to make sure that all of your gutters are fastened well and that there is no visible damage to the fascia. Seal anything that needs it, and make note of anything that requires replacing. Notice if there seem to be any areas where debris and water are collecting. You might need to adjust the run of the gutters. They should slope ¼” for every 10-ft. going toward the downspout.

Try to do all your work from the ladder, but if you do end up needing to go onto the roof, follow these safety tips

If your home is two or more stories, or if you find you just aren’t comfortable on a ladder, you might want to call a professional. Safety first, remember!

Time To Climb!

Great roof maintenance starts with prevention. Cleaning out those gutters at least twice a year is a wonderful preventative measure to protect your home from water damage and pests, save money, and avoid unnecessary stress. Whether you choose to clean them yourself or hire a professional, make sure the proper maintenance is done. It’s worth it!

Need a Roofing Company?

Do you already have damage to your roof? We would be happy to take a look! When it comes to Lincoln, NE roofing, we are your exuberant experts. And if need a roof repair, a whole new roof, or if you’re not sure what to be watching out for, we love what we do and we’re ready to help! Schedule a visit with Carlson Projects Inc. for a free quote. 

As your Lincoln roofing and roof repair scholars, we also have a ton of other informative content on our blog. Check it out! And if you are considering remodeling your home in Lincoln, NE, we can help with that, too! 

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