Texas Living

Gut Your Gutters

By Valirie Morgan 10.10.16

Fall is one time when your mind should be in the gutter — your home’s rain gutters, that is! Cleaning them out is a chore that should be done at least twice a year, but it’s especially important in the fall, when the buildup of leaves and other debris can clog gutters and downspouts. It might not be the first thing you want to do on a beautiful autumn day, but ignoring blockages can lead to foundation damage, roof leaks, and rotten fascia boards. 

Head off water and structural damage by using this step-by-step guide to keeping your rain gutters clean and problem-free all season long. 

  1. Practice safety first. Make sure the area under and around your gutters is clear. Set up a sturdy ladder safely and on level ground. Don’t lean the ladder against the gutters. Not only are they not stable enough to support a person’s weight, but you could damage your home’s façade. For personal safety, stop climbing before the last three rungs and don’t reach past the side rail. Consider asking a family member or friend to spot you as well.
  2. Gather your gear. In addition to thick work gloves and safety glasses, you’ll need a trowel or plastic gutter scoop, a straightened out clothes hanger, a bucket or trash bags to place collected debris in, and a hose. If you’re using a bucket, opt for a lightweight plastic option with a sturdy handle. 

  3. Dig in. Start by using your hands, a trowel, or scoop to remove leaves and debris from the gutters. There may be some dirt that needs to be scraped off as well. 

  4. Add H2O. Find out whether your downspouts are clogged and clear any blockages by using the hose to spray water through them. Always use low pressure, as your downspouts are not built for high-pressure water flow. If you find a blockage that the water can’t clear, you can use a long, straight, and thin item, like a straightened-out clothes hanger, to dislodge it.

  5. Rinse and repeat. When all the debris has been removed, use the hose to run water through all the gutters and downspouts. This helps clean out anything you might have missed, as well as any stubborn dirt.

Consider gutter guards or screens to reduce your maintenance time, but keep in mind that even the most advanced systems still need to be cleaned out regularly. If you’re afraid of heights or don’t feel comfortable climbing a ladder, consider hiring a professional to take care of the job. 

Ready to tackle some more home maintenance? Add these important tasks to your to-do list, and don’t forget to check out our latest Monthly Checklist. While you’re at it, check in with your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent to make sure your homeowners policy is up-to-date.