An Easy, Comprehensive Guide to Gutter Maintenance 

Gutters divert water away from your home and protect your foundation and landscaping. When there is a lot of water runoff, gutters can redirect water away from your home to prevent flooding. For those with basements, gutters are a given. So, gutters are a good thing, but when not properly maintained, they can do more harm than good. Clogged gutters allow water to build up and drip down the sides of your house. This can cause staining, flooding, and eroding. Gutters need to be regularly cleaned in order to do their job.  

” To avoid major repairs, you’ll need to keep up with regular cleaning and maintenance of your home’s gutter system. ”


So How Do I Maintain My Gutters? 

Start by cleaning your gutters at least twice a year. If you have a lot of overhanging limbs, you will want to clean them more often. Most people clean their gutters in autumn due to falling leaves and again in the late spring to early summer. You can either hire a professional or clean your gutters yourself. If you decide to go it alone, use a sturdy ladder and be sure someone else is home in case you should fall. Never stand on the top two rungs of a ladder.  

Another part of gutter maintenance is regularly trimming the trees that overhang your gutter. In addition to lessening leaf cleanup, overhanging limbs can be hazardous in bad weather. It’s best to keep all trees cut back and away from your roofline. Gutters also need to be properly installed to effectively do their job. Below are a few quick tips for installing gutters.  

Gutter Installation Guidelines:  

  • A gutter should be no more than 50 feet long per downspout.  
  • The roofline should properly hang over the gutter. The shingles should overhang the drip edge by ⅜ to ½ of an inch. 
  • There should be no more than a finger width gap between the fascia and the gutter.  
  • The gutter should angle down one to two inches per 40 feet. This allows water to move towards the downspout. 
  • To prevent water from running over the gutter edge, the gutter should be level from front to back.

Should I Get 5 Or 6-inch Gutters? 

Another aspect that will affect the success or failure of your gutters is the size. 5 and 6 inches are the most common gutter sizes for residences, but gutters come as narrow as 3 inches and as wide as 8 inches. Naturally, 6 inches can hold substantially more water than the 5-inch gutters. An inch may not seem like much of a difference, but 6-inch gutters can carry 40% more water than 5-inch ones.

House with New Seamless Aluminum Rain Gutters.


What Is The Best Gutter Cleaning Tool? 

There are a few ways you can clean your gutters. iRobot even makes a gutter cleaning robot, the iRobot Looj 330, priced at $299. You can also hire a professional to do the job. A professional will be able to spot any issues with your gutters and make repairs. Most professionals offer power washing for gutters, as well. If you want to DIY, here are your options.   

You can clean your gutters: 

  • With a leaf blower, plus goggles and a mask to protect yourself from the dust. This makes a big mess, but it will quickly blow the leaves out of your gutter. However, once the leaves are out, you will have to rake them. 
  • With a trowel or by hand. This method requires you to be on a ladder. Always wear thick work gloves as you never know what might be in your gutter. You’ll need a bucket for the leaves and debris. This method works best when leaves are slightly damp from light rain, but not drenched from a heavy downpour. Damp leaves will clump together for easier cleanup. While this is the cheapest way to clean your gutters, it is also the most labor intensive. 
  • With a gutter cleaning kit that connects to your leaf blower or shop vacDepending on the length of the hose attachment, you may be able to clean your gutters from the ground with a gutter cleaning kit. By far, this is the easiest, fastest, and most efficient cleaning method.  

How Do Professionals Clean Gutters? 

There are several advantages to using professionals for this messy job. They already own the best tools to clean gutters plus, they can spot any potential issues and make repairs. Handymans can clean gutters, but be wary of employing anyone who isn’t bonded and insured. If they fall off a ladder on your property, you could face a lawsuit. If you choose to hire someone, it’s best to go with a professional company.  

Professionals will deep clean your gutters. Most blow or suck the leaves out, then power wash the gutters. Some companies have powerful truck-mounted vacuums to unclog gutters and pipes. They may also steam clean your gutters and drainpipes. This will eradicate any growing mold or algae and leave your gutters looking like new. Once they’ve cleaned the gutters, they will also dispose of the cleaned out debris. If you do it yourself, cleaning up is your responsibility.  

” Clogged gutters cause water to back up and push under the shingles, migrating up the roof line, and possibly even dripping into your attic. “


Should Gutters Have Standing Water In Them? 

Gutters should never have standing water. If they do, there’s a problem somewhere. It could be that the gutters aren’t installed at a good downward slope. Or, the problem may be a clogged downspout. If you haven’t stayed on top of your gutter maintenance, water may wash leaves and dirt into the downspout and cause a blockage.  

If you think you have a clog in the downspout, you can use a long pole to try and dislodge it or a leaf blower to blow it out. Sticking your water hose in the downspout afterward may help rinse out any lingering debris. If you repeatedly get clogs, you will want to install gutter guards. Clogged gutters will cause your fascia or soffits to rot. Gutters can even break when packed with years’ worth of leaves. 

Are Gutter Guards Worth It? 

Yes, but they’re not a perfect solution. If you have a lot of trees on your property, gutter guards can save you a lot of time and hassle. Gutter guards are mesh coverings for your gutters. They don’t completely eliminate gutter maintenance though. They just make it easier. Leaves and sticks can still compact on the top of the gutter guards, so you will still need to routinely clean your gutters.  

Gutter guards range in price from a few dollars to thousands of dollars. If you live in a cold climate, you can even buy heated gutter guards to melt ice and prevent snow from pulling down your gutters. The most expensive gutter guards are made of such fine micro-mesh that only water can pass through the screen. These micro-mesh gutter guards are only available through professional installation, however.  

Practice Proactive Maintenance 

If your gutters are properly installed from the beginning and you keep up with gutter cleaning, your gutters should work as intended. This will keep your house’s siding or brick in good shape, plus divert water so you can enjoy your outdoor space without worrying about erosion. Whether you choose to hire professionals or clean your gutters yourself, we hope this guide helped answer all of your questions about gutter maintenance. 

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