Gutters and Downspouts: A Quick Maintenance Guide

Gutters and Downspouts A Quick Maintenance Guide

Gutters and downspouts aren’t just there for show, they play an instrumental part in keeping the flow of rainwater and melted snow away from your house. Ultimately, they protect your roof, walls, and foundation from water damage, mold, and even leaks.

But this doesn’t happen if your gutters get filled with gunk. Build up could mean damage to the gutters and downspouts themselves, and even damage to your house. Not only does blockage allow water build-up, but it also makes for a nice home for rodents and other pests.

It’s not the most attractive home maintenance job, but not cleaning your gutters could put you at risk for spending more money on repairs down the line. Throwing this two or three-hour task on your to-do list at least twice per year is a small trade for fending off costly repairs.

How to clean your gutters

Cleaning your roof gutters doesn’t have to be challenging, and can be done in an afternoon. Four simple steps and a few hours can leave you with a clean gutter, and fending off possible repair costs. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Grab your tools

You can’t just walk out there and clean your gutters, you’re going to need supplies to get the job done. The whole job will go a lot quicker if you organize everything beforehand, so you’ll want to find the following:

  • Ladder — make sure you ladder it tall enough to reach where you need to be.
  • Stabilizer — this handy little device helps ensure that your gutter doesn’t get damaged.
  • Gloves — reusable gloves are more sustainable than single-use.
  • Gutter scoop or sand shovel — something to remove the gunk and debris.
  • Tarp or cloth to catch gunk — make sure that you use something that’s easy to clean or you don’t mind getting dirty.
  • Garden hose or pressure washer — make sure you can reach the areas you need to work in before getting started.

You’ll also want to make sure you wear a shirt with long sleeves that you don’t mind getting a little dirty.

2. Assess for damage

You might be tempted to get right to the cleaning but it’s best to take some time to assess for current damage to your roof and gutters. You want to identify whether or not they need replacing or just cleaning.

If you’re conducting regular maintenance, hopefully the damage is minimal (or non-existent). But normal wear and tear happens, even to the best maintained gutters and downspouts.

3. Remove gunk

If nothing needs to be replaced or fixed, it’s time to get cleaning. Large items like branches can be picked out by hand, but actual build-up might require a tool. 

The easiest way to do this is to use a small plastic scoop or other tool to remove any gunk that’s already built up. You can purchase an actual gutter scoop from your local hardware store, or save the cash and use a cheap sand shovel.

It’s best to toss this gunk onto a plastic tarp that can either be cleaned easily or disposed of. Dumping it on the lawn could lead to damage or just a mess.

4. Flush gutters

With the muck cleared, it’s time to flush the rain gutters and downspouts. Not only does this help avoid faster build up, but you can also check if you have leaky gutters on your hand. 

Flushing them gives them a final quick clean, and can be done with your average garden hose and a spray nozzle. You want to start at the far end of the gutters and spray a steady stream of water towards the downspout, forcing the remaining dirt out the spout.

You want to avoid spraying underneath the roof shingles where possible. Using a specific gutter cleaning attachment on your hose can make this easier, and for extra firepower pressure washers come in handy.

Staying on top of home maintenance

Avoiding a clogged gutter might not be top of mind, but completing this home maintenance task on a regular basis is important. Not only does it help keep your home in tip top shape, but with periodic maintenance you can save money in the future.

GarbageDay wants you to stay on top of your home maintenance, and help you save money. Download the free app to get seasonal task reminders sent right to your phone!

Download the GarbageDay app today!​

There’s more to caring for your home than taking out the trash. We give you seasonal reminders about things like when to change your air filter, check and seal your driveway, turn off your hoses, and anything else that needs adjusting through the seasons. We even give you step-by-step instructions on how to get these things done.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.

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