It may not be the most desirable job, but cleaning your guttering – particularly in preparation for the winter months – can be a good way of avoiding some costly repairs.
In this guide we’ll give you tips on how to clean gutters safely, how to tackle high guttering and general advice on how to keep on top of them.
Why should I clean out my gutter?
It might not be the ideal way to spend your weekend, but clogged gutters can not only cause a blockage, but may also damage your home’s woodwork.
In the winter months, trapped water can freeze and expand in your guttering which can damage your gutter work and other parts of your home, leaving you to pay out for bigger repairs.
What tools do I need to clean my guttering?
To make sure the job is done properly, there’s a few tools you’ll need in preparation.
Top 7 tools to clean gutters
- A ladder: You’ll need this to reach the higher sections of guttering. We’ll go into more detail about ladder safety and cleaning high gutters later.
- A ladder stabiliser: When you’re working on potentially unsafe ground, always make sure you follow the right safety measures. A ladder stabiliser is easy to get hold of and will help keep your ladder sturdy when working at height.
- A large bucket or refuse bags: If you’re clearing out large amounts of dry or wet debris, you’ll need somewhere to put it.
- Waterproof garden gloves: Regardless of what it is you’re dealing with, you’ll want something to protect your hands when doing this job.
- Gutter scoop: To keep things simple, get hold of a gutter scoop from your local DIY store to clear your guttering as much as possible.
- Extender wand: Even when using your ladder it’s possible that there could be places that you’re unable to reach. An extender wand may come in useful, particularly if you’re working at height. They shouldn’t be too expensive and you should be able find them in your local DIY shop.
- Gutter cleaner spray: Once the job is done, you may want to use a gutter cleaner spray to get your gutters gleaming. You should be able to find these in most hardware stores.
If you’re not comfortable working at heights you should really avoid this job and consider calling in a professional. If, however, you are happy working at height then crack on.
You should also consider the safety aspect here and maybe ask someone to foot the ladder for you.
How to clean gutters – a step by step guide
1) Get your ladder into position
Now you’re good to go! Your first job is to get a ladder in place. Pick the end of your guttering you want to start at and securely move your ladder into position.
You need to make sure that both feet of the ladder are planted firmly onto solid, level ground. Avoid placing the feet of your ladder on grass or any sloping, or uneven ground as you’re likely to fall.
At this point you’ll probably find that your gutters are fixed to fascia boards. These are then fixed to eaves or an area of the roof that overhangs your walls, which means you may have to awkwardly lean over to get a good view of your gutter.
Attaching a ladder stay or stand off to the top of your ladder can help, as they rest on the external wall of your property, pushing the ladder away from the wall, which allows you easy access to our gutter and roof if you need to.
2) Make sure you have all your equipment before climbing the ladder
Stick on your gloves and appropriate clothing, grab your bucket and get yourself comfortable on the ladder.
Before you start cleaning, make sure you’re in the right position to lean over to safely reach any debris. Be careful not to overreach as this can cause your ladder to become unstable and you could cause yourself an injury by falling.
3) Remove the debris from the guttering
OK, so now you’re ready to start removing the waste. You can do this by using your gutter scoop if you have one, you can also do this by hand or by using a plastic bottle with the bottom cut off.
The best method in this case is to scoop the waste towards you (not too close!) and then scoop the heap into your bucket or bag.
Be careful not to scrape too hard as your guttering can be fragile, but try to remove as much as the waste as possible. Work in a small area at a time and clear it, this is by far the easiest and safest option.
Once you’ve cleared the section you’re working on, climb down your ladder and move it over to your next working area and repeat until cleared.
How often should I clean my guttering?
Realistically, you should look to clear your guttering a minimum of once or twice a year to avoid them getting blocked. But it really depends on where you live and what surrounds your property.
Mainly, this will be down to seasonal weather and if your house is surrounded by trees and foliage you’ll find that this has an impact too. During the spring you may find a lot of seeds and pollen from trees build up in your gutter. As spring finishes you’ll find that this process slows, making it the perfect time to clean your gutter.
This can also be the case for autumn when leaves and debris start to fall. If your home is surrounded by trees then the best way to tackle it is by waiting for the trees to be nearly bare, that way you can be sure that you’ll have removed as much as possible in one go.
Obviously, this doesn’t cover every scenario. You can’t really rely on UK weather, so if you get large amounts of rainfall and you have a lot of water entering your gutters at the beginning of spring, then you’re best to try and get this cleared as quickly as possible.
It’s not just your gutters that can get blocked, you might find that your outside drains get blocked too. Thankfully our guide to unblocking your outside drain will help you clear those, too.
What should I do if I find more issues with my guttering?
If you have an emergency that requires attention, then you may want to consider calling on our one-off repair service. Our Home Experts can help you resolve any immediate issues you may have for a fixed-price. You may also be interested in our plumbing and drainage cover to protect you against any problems caused by gutter blockages or bad weather in the future.
Frequently asked questions about gutter cleaning
How should I clean high gutters?
Obviously you can get somebody in to do this for you, but if you’re doing this job yourself then there are two main aspects you need to consider.
Firstly, are you happy to and are you safe to work at height? Unless you live in a bungalow or a single storey building then you will be required to work on a ladder, so you should be 100% sure you are happy to do that.
Secondly, cleaning your guttering is not a glamorous job. It’s messy, often smelly and can be quite awkward – so you should really prepare yourself before taking on this task.
How do you make a homemade gutter cleaner?
The most simple and effective way to make your own gutter cleaner is by using a plastic bottle and following these steps:
- Remove the label from your bottle
- Turn your bottle upside down
- Cut the bottom at an angle, then voila – you have your own gutter scoop!
How much does gutter cleaning cost?
The cost of cleaning your guttering can vary depending on how much guttering you have and how much you need to clear. The best thing to do is to contact a couple of professionals for a quote to help you find a fair price.