The ultimate guide to cleaning your gutters

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Cleaning out the gutters is the ultimate chore for some homeowners while others might not mind it at all. Whether you love it or hate it, it remains an essential step in the ultimate maintenance of your home. It doesn’t have to be a major ordeal, but it is important to not let this task slip your mind. If you forget to clean your gutters you risk having water damage in your house. Water seepage can increase the likelihood of mould, damage your paint work and can be costly to rectify. So, it’s vital to put them on your agenda.

Before we get started, you might be wondering how to identify when the time has come to start cleaning your gutters, well at insuremyhouse.ie, we are answering some of the most common questions about cleaning the gutters on your home.

What are the warning signs that my gutters need cleaning?

There are a number of warning signs that it might be time to clean out your gutters. Some of the most common signs are:

1.The birds have moved in.

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One of the first tell-tale signs that it’s time to clean your gutters is when birds start making themselves at home. Gutters that are overflowing with leaves, twigs and general debris are a gold mine for birds because it provides them with all the necessary materials for building their nests. If you see birds making a move on your gutters, it’s time to clean them. If they have already started to nest however, then you will need to call expert help to rid you gutter of existing nests before you do your clean up.

2.Your gutters are starting to blossom.

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It’s nice to have plants decorating the exterior of your home but you do not want them growing out from your gutters. When the weather is bad, rain can wash dirt from your roof into your gutters which subsequently creates an ideal environment for weeds and plants to start sprouting up. If you’re seeing a blossoming gutter, it’s time to give them a good seeing to.

3.You’re seeing waterfalls.

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When it starts to rain, your gutters are put to work. If you see your gutters overflowing into mini waterfalls however, then your gutters are under too much strain. This could be caused by dirt and earth clogging up your gutter. If you let it deteriorate this could also have a repercussion on your wallet and ultimately your home insurance. If you see your gutters spilling over like waterfalls, fetch the ladder and start cleaning!

What equipment do I need before I start clearing out my gutters?

  1. A sturdy ladder.
  2. Appropriate footwear (not sandals or flip flops etc. as they increase the risk of slippage).
  3. A trowel
  4. A set of gloves
  5. Wire hooks.
  6. Two buckets.
  7. A garden hose with a gutter cleaning attachment optional.

If you don’t have these items on hand, you can purchase a full gutter cleaning kit, or pop down to your local hardware. It’s important to have these items on hand as they are useful around the home overall.

What are the steps I need to take when cleaning my gutters?

Step 1.

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Prepare your two buckets. Choose one for holding all the matter and debris from your gutter and choose one for holding the equipment that you need to bring up to the roof with you for easy access. Once you have organised which bucket is for what task, bring them up the ladder with you one by one and securely hook them on to your ladder.

Step 2.

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Put on your gloves. Start near the downspout and begin by firstly removing any large clumps of debris with your hands. After you have cleared the majority of the larger clumps, you can use your trowel to effectively remove smaller pieces of the build-up.

Step 3.

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Remove and clean any downspout strainers if you have them. Strainers are add-ons to your gutter and downspout systems that reduce clogging. They are relatively easy to install and prevent large debris from clogging the downspout, so if you don’t have currently have them, it might be worth looking into them, as they can help to streamline the cleaning of your gutters and prevent downspout blockages.

Step 4.

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Once you have removed all the debris, you can begin with the hosing process. Attach your gutter feature to your garden hose (if you have one) and start hosing down your gutters by starting at the end opposite to the downspout.

Step 5.

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If the water is failing to drain, there is potentially a clog in the downspout that you will need to remove. For gutters that run into an underground tiling system, you will have to remove the bottom end of the downspout. You might also have to temporarily remove some of the down sprout pipe bands, which are used to secure your gutter to the wall. Their removal can be achieved with a simple screwdriver. If your downspout is above ground, then you don’t have to remove any parts and can proceed as normal.

If the nozzle on your hose will fit into the downspout, set it at full pressure, then turn on the water and feed the hose up from the bottom of the spouting.

If it still doesn’t clear the clog, or if the nozzle is too big, you can use a plumber’s snake. For anyone who doesn’t know what a plumber’s snake is? It’s a slender, flexible auger used to dislodge clogs in plumbing. The plumber’s snake is often reserved for difficult plumbing clogs and can be used for gutter clogs also.

Step 6.

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Once you have tackled the clog (if any) and you have removed all the debris, it’s important to run down your gutter with the hose one final time. Turn on your hose and once again start from the end which is opposite to the downspout.

Bonus tip:

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If while cleaning your gutters you come across water that appears to be standing in the gutter, this may be a sign that your gutter isn’t sloping correctly. This can cause problems down the line such as internal water damage, so it might be worth having a professional take a look at it.

Alternatively, if you came across any leaks in your gutter whilst cleaning them out, wait until the gutter is fully dry before further inspection. If the leaks exist at the seams, then a gutter sealant can be used on the joints. For leaks near the caps then a sealant can be applied on the inside and around the entirety of the cap.

We know cleaning out your gutters can be a pain and many of us want to put it on the long finger for as long as possible. However, with Autumn rolling in and with the weather not set to get any better, it might be a good idea to pull out the trowel and begin cleaning those gutters!

At insuremyhouse.ie we want to help provide all the tips and tricks to minimise the risk in your home. Regardless of preparation however, sometimes the unexpected happens and you want to be covered! If you’re looking for any aspect of home insurance, then reach out to us today!