Top 10 gutter cleaning tips
Over time, leaves, moss, debris and even birds nests can make it difficult for rainwater runoff to drain away properly. Keeping your gutters free from obstructions can help them flow more efficiently and keep your property free from damp and flooding. These gutter cleaning tips should have you well on the way to gutters you can be proud of.
1. Use the best tools for the job
If you want to clean your gutters properly there are a selection of tools that will help make the job easier and safer.
- PPE - Eye protection, non-slip rubber soled boots, waterproof clothing.
- Pressure washer and attachments - Will make quick work of stubborn debris and organic build-up and help clean tiles.
- Hard bristled broom and hand brush - For clearing the roof of loose debris and to empty the bulk of debris from the gutters.
- A small hand trowel - to scrape out gutter gunk.
- Green waste bags- to collect the leaves, moss and other debris that you clear from the roof and guttering.
- A sturdy ladder - for single story buildings a pressure washer attachment may eliminate the need for a ladder. Double story buildings will require one.
- Cleaning solution - a good multi-purpose cleaner that will break down ingrained leaf-litter, dirt, grime and pollution without damaging the guttering surface.
Using PPE is vital when tackling gutters, especially when using a pressure washer as flying dirt and debris can cause injury. Always wear non-slip footwear and stay well clear of any electric cables that are located near or above the area you are working in.
2. Clean the roof first
As most debris in your gutters comes from the roof, it is a good idea to clear the roof first. Use a hard bristled brush or a blower to remove any loose debris and bag it up. If you have a lot of moss growing on your tiles, then a brush will help loosen it to prevent it from being washed into your gutters when it rains. While clearing the roof area, it is a good time to inspect your guttering for any cracks or splits and ensure that any fastenings are securely in place.
3. Clear gutter debris by hand
Your gutters will most likely be full of decomposing leaves, small plants, moss and branches. This can build up over time and can resemble a thick, tar-like substance. You do not want to begin pressure washing your gutters until you have removed the bulk of this by hand. If you try to wash it away it will end up blocking the downpipes and the drains. The best way to remove this debris is by using a small hand trowel to scrape it away from the guttering and scoop it out.
4. Select a cleaning solution
A good cleaning solution will help loosen up any tough deposits and create a lubricating effect that will help dirt be washed away when pressure washing. Many cleaning solutions will also prevent organic debris from building up on your guttering while cutting through airborne pollutants such as grease, tar and oil. For stubborn dirt, use a rotating brush accessory with your pressure washer for a deeper clean.
5. Use an angled spray lance and the correct nozzles
An angled spray lance is perfect for those who are working from a ladder and can make it easier to reach all parts of the gutter. Choosing the right nozzle for your gutter material is important. Certain nozzle attachments may prove to be too powerful for rusted gutters and PVC, while others may not have the correct spray diameter. The best type of nozzle to use on gutters is one that forces water out in a fan spray pattern, such as a flat jet nozzle so that all parts of the surface can be cleaned at the same time.
6. Protecting your guttering
Specialist paints can be purchased that prevent rust from occurring and provide a protective barrier from the elements. When repainting guttering, you should first clean it with a pressure washer, give it a gentle rub back to remove dirt and allow it to dry. Once it has dried you can apply a primer before the weatherproof paint. It is not a good idea to paint plastic guttering as the paint may not adhere to it and could contain chemicals that degrade it over time.
7. Clean the downpipes
If your downpipes become blocked they can prevent water run-off from draining away from your roof and property. If you notice water spilling over the edge of your gutters when it rains; a blocked downpipe )or improper gutter angle) is likely the cause. If your downpipes are blocked, you have several options available to you to clear any blockages, which will entirely depend on your own personal preferences. Keeping your downpipes clean will help your gutters work to maximum efficiency.
8. Clear the drains
When cleaning gutters, many people forget to clean their drains at the same time. While debris and blockages can be easily spotted in your gutters, drains tend to be more of a challenge, To begin with, clear the drain cover from any debris and then remove the grill. Using a hand trowel, dig out any soil, leaves and litter that is in there and then pour in a good-quality drain cleaner. If your drains are blocked, then there are pressure washer attachments that can be fed into the drain to blast the blockage away.
9. Fit gutter guards
If you think that your gutters become clogged too quickly, fitting gutter guards may be exactly what you need. These clip on to the top of the gutters to prevent large debris from being washed into them. They are also an effective way to prevent birds from nesting in your gutters and work like a sieve to filter out the majority of dirt and debris. Gutter guards can save you time and effort and reduce the need to thoroughly clean your guttering. The majority of gutter guards are designed to be universal, so ease of application is a bonus.
10. Perform regular maintenance
For most people, cleaning the gutters twice each year is sufficient. Once you have given your gutters a deep clean the first time, they will be easier to clean in the future. Bi-annual cleaning can help stop moss from taking hold and can wash away much of the dirt and debris before it has a chance to breakdown and solidify. Those who live in areas with a lot of trees may need to clean their gutters out every 3 months or invest in some gutter guards.