Fall Home Maintenance: 4 Steps to Clean Your Gutters

Gutters are a vital component of the roofing system and require routine maintenance to keep your home looking and functioning well. Gutter cleaning has more benefits than just aesthetics; it protects exterior siding, windows, doors, basements and foundations from significant water damage. Gutters that are clogged with leaves and debris, or otherwise not functioning correctly, can result in serious damage. By channeling rainwater away from the perimeter, gutters act as the first line of defense against water running and seeping into your home.

How to Clean Gutters

While professional gutter cleaning by a licensed company is always the safest way to keep your gutters and downspouts clear, we understand many homeowners prefer to handle this task themselves. Here are tips that will help you get the job done safely.

  • Safety first. Before climbing a ladder, be sure you have assembled items that will keep you safe when cleaning gutters. Gloves are important to protect hands from rotting debris and sharp metal edges. Safety goggles keep eyes protected from splatters and flying debris, while a sturdy ladder ensures you can carry out the job safely. Always let someone know you will be using a ladder to work on your roof or gutters.
  • Clean the gutters.  Remove gutter covers, if applicable. Use a garden trowel or a homemade scoop (a plastic half-gallon milk jug can be fashioned into a convenient scoop) to remove debris from the gutter trough. Be sure to wear gloves while doing this and take care not to damage the gutter.
  • Flush the gutters.  Using a garden hose, flush the cleared gutter with water to wash out small bits of debris and check for proper flow. If the water isn't draining, check the downspout strainer and clean as necessary.
  • Check the downspouts.  If water still doesn't flow, you may have a clog in the downspout. Insert a pressure nozzle into the downspout at the base and spray at full pressure. If this doesn't clear the downspout, use a plumber's snake to clear the blockage. Flush the entire gutter again.

If you are uncomfortable with heights or ladders, or notice damage to your gutters while cleaning, call a roofing professional for assistance. By taking care of this maintenance chore during the fall, after leaves have fallen, you can prevent problems with your home over the winter.

Learn more about the protective benefits of LP® SmartSide® engineered wood siding for your home by visiting For questions about home siding or home siding repair, contact an LP SmartSide remodeler near you.

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