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Posted in: Homeowner tips

How to clean your gutters before winter arrives

How to clean your gutters

Key insights

  • Don’t wait until it’s too late! Homeowners should clear their gutters well in advance of the first winter storm
  • Focus on removing accumulation and inspecting potential damage from summer storms to prevent gutter buildup and water damage this winter
  • Run water through your gutters to make sure that your downspouts are properly installed to run downhill and away from your house

An early, unexpected snowfall can lead to expensive drainage issues and property damage for homeowners who haven’t completed their fall gutter clean-up. Be sure to follow these expert insights to clean out your gutters before winter arrives.

Step one: Ladder and initial removal

First, find a partner who can help watch and ensure your ladder is secure. Together, stabilize the legs of an appropriately-sized ladder, then ask your partner to stand watch as you climb and begin the inspection. If a partner isn’t around, be sure to check the soil each time you adjust the ladder and climb the ladder slowly after each incremental move.

Once you’re at the gutter level, inspect for damage and clogs. If the buildup is minimal, you should be able to pressure wash it away with a garden hose. (This is also a good way to check that your gutters are properly draining all the way through.)

If there is significant buildup, physically remove it using gloved hands, a scoop or another device that fits in the small area. To save time, consider using an extension pole — but be sure not to overreach or extend yourself past what is safe.

Step two: A closer inspection

As you remove debris, check your gutters for small leaks and larger cracks. While ensuring you are fully stable (and not holding onto the gutter for support), jostle the gutters to make sure they are firmly secured to your house. Examine the siding and foundation of your house, looking for any staining or rotting. You don’t want to enter winter with water damage, so be sure to take any defects you see seriously.

Next, test the downspouts. Run water from a hose through each section of your gutter and check that the water is flowing away from your house (and on a downward slope) once it reaches the ground.

Step three: Clear roof debris

If you see that leaves, branches or other debris is accumulating on your roof, be sure to remove it with a rake or broom. It may not be clogging your gutters now, but it could affect your draining once winter storms arrive.

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