“Gutters, sigh.” Only homeowners can truly empathize with this statement. Nobody warns you about gutters when you buy a house, but oh boy, all houses should come with a warning label by law.
If you’re a fresh owner, you may have just stumbled upon this article while frantically looking for help with what seems as a Biblical flood happening right above your head, since nobody told you that those things won’t just clean themselves. For us old-timers, it’s pretty much a routine task.
It’s always the same old story. Leaves, debris, dirt, a dead mouse, a wasp nest… It takes just one small thing in your gutter, or downpipe, and an inevitable chain reaction is set afoot. In a matter of days, weeks, or if you’re just a tad lucky, months, your gutter is a nasty, overflowing mess.
That is why cleaning your gutters should be treated as a periodic maintenance task – as is lawn mowing, pool cleaning, or feeding your cats.
How to Go About Cleaning Gutters?
There are several ways to go about the business. The first big decision is – will you hire a professional, or just go DIY?
Professional gutter cleaning services are pretty neat, if you have the money. In fact, if you would read any of these service’s websites, you would find that they’re eager to tell you that there is no other way to do it properly.
You call a guy, he’ll probably come in a few days and do the job for you. Simple.
However, he may not always be available. And even if he is, he’ll be more than happy to charge you extra for an emergency. No safety risks, no liability, no work – but it all comes at a cost, $150 on average (opens in a new tab).
So then why not go DIY? It sure is cheaper.
DIY gutter cleaning can be tricky, as there are a million options to go about it. For example, you’ll find a ton of DIY tools gutter cleaning tools sold by Chinese resellers, infomercials and wannabe inventors. In my opinion, and from my personal experience, they’re all pretty much rubbish.
I’d consider two, yes, just two tools suitable for the job – leaf blowers and pressure washers. While I recommend using both, in combination, I will only discuss the former, since that is the purpose of my blog.
Blowing Through the Gutters
Using leaf blowers to clean gutters is pretty straight forward – you wait for them to dry as much as possible and then blow the hell out of them. You blow from side to side, since you want to avoid trashing your roof, or worse, your walls and windows, with whatever was in the gutters.
Optimally, you want to do this in the opposite direction from the downpipe, to avoid blocking it up. As for the downpipe, you blow through it and hope for the best.
Now what makes the task so simple?
- More Power: While you technically can simply dig in with your hand, with some practice and the right equipment, a leaf blower will make this faster, easier and less messy.
- Easier Cleaning of Downpipes: If you’re lucky, a leaf blower will clean your downpipe in a single blow, even if it is to some extent blocked.
- Better Safety: With proper equipment, not only that you do not need to balance on a ladder and risk a nasty fall, you probably don’t need to lift your feet off the ground floor at all!
Further Safety Tips
Cleaning your gutters from the top of a ladder is a stupid idea. Period. You are risking your life for a gutter. Don’t. Cleaning gutters with leaf blowers offers much more versatility! Always clean your gutter from the roof, or the ground floor.
Regardless of where you stand, I always recommend you to wear a helmet, gloves, hearing protection and safety goggles.
To improve your safety and minimize your need for climbing, I recommend gutter cleaning kits, which most manufacturers offer. They are basically long extensions with a curved end, which enable you to clean 1 to 2 stories from the ground floor.
However, their quality varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and not all models are compatible with any brand’s gear. Always research thoroughly if the attachment works well and if it is suitable for your device. Never use any unofficial kits, as they’re most likely rubbish.
Here are just a few examples of gutter cleaning kits in action.
As illustrated in the second video, cleaning gutters with a leaf blower can have its cons as well…
- The Mess: If done well and blown at the right angle, cleaning your gutters with a leaf blower is actually pretty neat. However, this takes some practice, and on the first few tries, you may end up with spot clean gutters, but in turn, a filthy roof. This applies in double if your manufacturer provides subpar gutter kits, which are flimsy and hard to angle.
- Not a 100%: Quite often, you will find that just sweeping your gutters with your blower will not clean them perfectly. Especially small, sticky mud particles are hard to get rid of. These call for a more appropriate pressure washer (opens in a new tab). Your downpipe is also at risk – if it gets blocked, sometimes blowing just won’t do it.
In these cases, you will just have to dismantle the downpipe and unblock it by hand.
In conclusion, while cleaning your gutters on your own can be somewhat daunting and tricky to handle at first, it will save you plenty of money in the long run. When doing so, your safety should be your No. 1 priority.
I highly recommend reputable gutter cleaning kits, as they will make the job much easier. On the other hand, due to quality and compatibility issues, you must take care to research each product specifically.
Gutter cleaning should become a habit. Not just something that you do as an emergency when the damage has already been done. A leaf blower is ought to make it easier.
Do you have any gutter cleaning tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!