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 before the first winter storm.
  • Focus on removing accumulation and inspecting potential harm from summer storms to prevent gutter buildup and water damage this winter.
  • Run water through your gutters to test that your downspouts are properly installed to run downhill and away from your house.

An early, significant snowfall can lead to expensive drainage issues and property damage for homeowners who haven’t completed their fall gutter clean-up. Be sure to prep your home for fall and winter by following these expert tips.

Step one: Partner up and get on the ladder

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

Once you’re at the gutter level, inspect for damage and clogs. If your gutter buildup is minimal, you may simply 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.)

However, if there is significant buildup, opt to physically remove it using gloved hands or a small scoop. To save time, consider using an extension pole — but be sure not to extend yourself beyond what is safe.

Step two: Inspect for leaks and cracks

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. Next, examine the siding and foundation of your house, looking for staining or rotting. You don’t want to enter winter with water damage, so be sure to take any defects you see seriously.

Step three: Check for clogs

Now, it’s time to test the downspouts. To do so, run water from a hose through each section of your gutter. If you identify an area where the water isn’t flowing, feel for potential clogs by tapping the downspout from top to bottom with a screwdriver. If you hear a hollow ring when tapping, your downspout is likely in the clear. However, if your tapping results in a dull thud, there may be a clog. To dispel any debris, detach and rinse the gutter at the blockage point. You may have to check the cage as well.

After you check your downspouts and gutters, ensure all water is flowing away from your house (and on a downward slope) once it reaches the ground.

Keep in mind that if you identify clogs that are extra stubborn or out of reach, you may need to hire a professional help to clear them.

Step four: Clear roof debris

Be sure to remove leaves and branches that land on your roof. Do not climb on your roof – use a long rake or broom to sweep away any accumulation, then properly dispose of leaves and other debris.

While this foliage may not be clogging your gutters now, it could affect your draining once winter storms arrive. If gutters aren’t able to properly drain after a snowfall, ice dams could form on your roof. Take the steps to clear your roof now and save yourself from the potential headache later on.

Jump into the home market this fall

When living in Minnesota or Wisconsin, it’s extra important to plan ahead and prepare your property for winter. For more tips on prepping your home for colder weather — or to list your home on the market this season — reach out to Edina Realty or one of our agents.

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