Cleaning your rain gutters is often one of the most hated home-owning chores. Most homeowners can’t even remember the last time they looked in their rain gutters. Avoiding cleaning them, however, can be dangerous to your home. By letting debris build up in your rain gutters it makes it difficult for you gutters to work properly, causing water to drip out and leak on sidewalks (which can lead to slippery conditions in cold weather) and can eventually cause water damage to your roof, siding, and landscaping.

Fortunately cleaning your rain gutters doesn’t have to be a difficult process. So grab your ladder and a garbage bag and try these 4 easy steps:

1)     Clean out large debris. The first step is to set up your ladder near a low point of your roof and start cleaning out large debris. Sticks, leaves, trash, and even the occasional toy if you’re a parent should all be cleaned out from the lowest point to the highest point. It’s a good idea to wear gloves to protect your hands from sharp sticks and gooey leaves.

2)     Sweep up small debris. The next step is to sweep out small debris.  The best tool for this job is a small garden trowel or look for a “gutter scoop” at your hardware store.  Gently move it along the bottom of your rain gutters, making a pile of small debris as you go. When you have a fairly sizable pile use the trowel to scoop it up and deposit in your trash bag.

3)     Rinse out your gutters. Once you’ve got most of the debris out it’s time to rinse out your gutters. This time start at the high point of your gutters and use a spray nozzle on your garden hose to get dirt, sand, and silt out of your gutters.  Rinse them all the way down keeping an eye out for leaks and spots where the water backs up. These areas could potentially need repairs.

4)     Look for and clean out blockages.  As you rinse keep an eye on your downspouts to make sure there aren’t any clogs.  If there is more water going in than coming out you probably have a clog. The best way to clean out clogs is with a plumber’s snake. If you don’t have one you can try using your hose or a long, sturdy stick. However, both of these methods may make the clog worse.

Of course, many home owners opt to hire a professional to do their cleaning for them or they choose to cover the gutters to avoid the build-up of debris. Both of these options are good and, depending on where you are, can be cost effective.

When was the last time you cleaned your gutters?

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