Lifestyle Guides

Gutter cleaning at home: tips, tricks and expert advice

Gutter cleaning can seem like a daunting task, so we've broken down the complicated bits into this four step guide, with a handy FAQ to boot.

Man scooping out a gutter

Cleaning and repairing your home’s gutters is a task that always seems to be pushed to the back of the to-do lists. As it’s a relatively simple task, gutter cleaning is something you could tackle yourself, but if you’d prefer to hire in help, you’ll be looking at around £50.

If you’re feeling confident in your handyman abilities, take a look at our easy four step guide with expert advice from Andy at Cardiff Cleaning and Maintenance Solutions (CCMS), who have been clearing and repairing gutters across south Wales for over 30 years.

1. Be ready for heights

Man in high vis holding ladder

The most important tool in you’ll need to have ready for this task is a ladder – even if you’re working with a single storey house or bungalow, you’re going to be working with heights. This is a task to approach seriously, so you’ll need a sturdy ladder, preferably one that can extend, to let you work all the way up and down the length of the gutter.

Where you set the ladder is very important too, you want a stable and level base with no slope or give. Ideally, someone will be stood at the bottom holding the ladder for you.

Working at heights is no joke, so if you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to contact a professional who’ll be more comfortable in that environment – Andy says “you should get someone in who does it regularly, not someone who has a ladder and therefore ‘can do it’. A genuine company will have the relevant, necessary experience, safety devices and insurance.”

2. Prepare your tools

 Series of garden tools

Beyond the ladder, there are a few essential extras you’ll want ready for a successful gutter cleaning.

  • A bucket or strong plastic bag - the debris you’ll find in the gutter is often wet and messy so it’s easier to clean it up as you go
  • Thick outdoor gloves - Andy advises that you should wear good rubber glove to protect against the sharp edges on tiles and slates. 
  • Trowel or gutter scoop - to help lever out all the leaves and shovel them into your bucket or bag

3. Scoop, but don’t lean

Scooping a gutter

Once you’ve got your tools and you’re standing on your ladder, it’s time to scoop. Use your trowel to scoop up the debris and then lift it into your bucket with your (gloved) hands. Be careful not to strike the gutter too hard with your trowel – some of the older ones might be more prone to cracking if hit too hard.

Remember, don’t lean – once you’ve cleaned everything you can reach, climb back down your ladder, re-position, and climb again. Don’t risk reaching beyond yourself to save time – you risk tipping the ladder and injuring yourself.

4. Wash it down

A cleaner gutter

Finally, now you’ve cleared the bigger blockages, it’s time for a final wash down of the gutters – a decent flow of water will clear out all the remaining gunk and debris that’s been unsettled by your cleaning. There are two ways to get water down your drain -

  • Hose– If your hose is long enough, it’s perfect for the task. Carry it up the ladder with you, put it on a medium pressure stream and point it down the gutter – making sure it washes away any remaining gunk
  • Bucket – Although not perfect, sometimes a bucket is what you’re left with. It may take several trips, but a decent bucketful of water will do the same job in washing away any leftover dirt from your gutter

 

Got a question on cleaning your gutters? We’ve asked Andy to tackle some of the most common gutter cleaning issues

When should I clean my gutters?

“Time of year often depends on what material is falling into your gutters. Generally, we suggest an inspection and clean annually, but that is can change depending on what material is likely to be filling up your gutters. 

“Some have a clean every two months due to evergreen trees or a heavy moss on the roof, causing blockages all year round. Many people have the gutters cleared after leaf fall, then in the spring another clear out along with a drain wash.”

Are gutter guards a good idea?

“Gutter guards aren’t always a good idea. They allow sediment to accumulate and will cost three to five times as much to clear due to their removal and replacement.

“Some systems stop the sediment from washing away and leave soil for plants to grow and get entangled with the guards.  Downpipe filters often stop any leaves or sediment from flushing away which causes a blockage.

“We generally don’t recommend these but advise to let the gutters do the job they were designed to do."

Why are my gutters overflowing?

“Most of the overflowing we see to relate to blocked downpipes. They often need to be opened to clear properly. gutters are often perfect for a bed of soil which grows plant life, especially downpipes.

“Downpipe exits need space. If a pipe sits flat on top of a drain guard, it will soon block up and cause an overflow at the top of the pipe. Fit a downpipe shoe or at least have it cut at an angle."

What sort of price should I be paying for gutter cleaning?

“Prices vary greatly. As is usual, there are some unscrupulous individuals in the market and will try to charge ridiculous prices. Look at ccmswales for a healthy price guide.

“Don't allow unidentified strangers onto your roof. We’ve been called to homes where someone has gone onto the roof, “found” problems and charged thousands to put it right again - badly, never to be seen again.”

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