How to Clean Gutter and Downspouts

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During the spring and fall seasons, gutters and downspouts often become clogged with debris from falling leaves, pollen and small branches and twigs. This not only reduces the functioning of the gutters and downspouts, but also can lead to water damage to your home's exterior as rainwater overflows the gutter and seeps into or behind fascia and trim molding. You can avoid this potential water damage by cleaning gutters and downspouts twice annually at the end of the spring and fall seasons.

Things You'll Need

  • Ladder
  • Garden hose
  • Plastic scoop
  • Work gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Garbage bags
  • Position ladder against the gutter at a point adjacent to the downspout. You will need to use the scoop to clear any debris from the mouth of the downspout, depositing the debris in the garbage bag.

  • Remove any visible debris from the mouth of the downspout. You can determine if the downspout is clogged by Inserting the hose into the mouth of downspout and observing the quantity of water passing through the spout. If the downspout is clogged, you can usually clear it by feeding the hose into the downspout and using a plunging motion to free the debris clog.

  • Continue cleaning using the scoop to remove and bag debris as you gradually work in the direction opposite the downspout. You should limit your reach to one arm's length on either side of the ladder. Once you have reached your limit, you will need to reposition the ladder.

  • Continue cleaning and bagging debris until the far end of the gutter has been reached. Once all heavy accumulations of debris have been removed, you should use the hose to wash out any remaining dirt or residue not removed with the scoop. Rinse the gutter, starting with the far end of the gutter and ending at the downspout.

  • Reposition the ladder and follow steps 1-4 above for the remaining gutters and downspouts.

Tips & Warnings

  • You should properly dispose of the debris removed from the gutter. This debris makes an excellent addition to a compost bin if you are into composting. It also can be added directly to garden or flower bed soils. You can make an effective plastic scoop by cutting away 3/4 of one side of a one-quart plastic milk bottle. This scoop fits the width of most gutters.
  • You should wear work gloves when working in the gutters to avoid cuts from rough metal edges. You should wear safety glasses when using the hose to wash out the gutter and downspout. You should never lean beyond the side of the ladder to extend your reach.
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