Gutter Cleaning 101: What Does It Include and Why Is It Important

What Is Gutter Cleaning?

Gutter cleaning is the process of removing any debris, dirt, and leaves from your gutters and downspouts that clog your gutter system and stop rainwater from flowing freely from the roof to the ground.

Professionals may scoop the debris by hand or by machine. After they clear out the gutter system, they’ll flush it with water to get any remaining particles, so rainwater can flow through the gutter system with ease.

Gutter System Components

Gutters tunnel rainwater off your roof through downspouts and away from your home. 

A gutter system includes the following components:

  • Gutter: Attaches to the edge of the eaves on your roof
  • End cap: Closes gutters
  • Fascia bracket: Connects to the eaves and provides structural support
  • Downspout: Allows rainwater to travel from the roof to the ground
  • Elbow: Snaps onto the downspout and redirects the water away from your home

What Clean Gutters Do and Why They’re Essential

When leaves, debris, dirt, and twigs get trapped inside gutter systems, it prevents them from working efficiently. 

However, when clean and free of clogs, rain gutters have an important job to do. They provide the following benefits:

  • Redirect rainwater from your roof away from your house
  • Minimize moisture and condensation from windows and window sills
  • Protect the exterior and interior walls from heavy rain
  • Keep water out of the basement and off the foundation

Let’s take a closer look at how gutter cleaning preserves your home.

Prevents Roof Damage

Unclogged gutters tunnel rainwater off your roof through downspouts and away from your home. But when leaves, dirt, and debris clog gutters, rainwater gets trapped inside the gutter, preventing the water from moving off the roof.

When rainwater penetrates through the surface of your roof, it can cause the following issues:

  • Roof rot
  • Weaken your roof’s construction
  • Seep from the roof into your home

Protect Exterior Walls

Rainwater stuck in gutters can destroy your home’s exterior—especially when the weight of debris makes a gap in your gutter system.

Areas affected include:

  • Shingles covering your house
  • Soffits protecting your roof and keeping moisture out of the attic
  • Fascias ventilating the roof

When these areas get waterlogged, they stop working, and mold, mildew, and algae grow on the exterior wall—and paint begins to peel and chip. Say goodbye to your curb appeal.

Prevents Cracks in Foundations

When gutters are filled with gunk, the water from your roof heads straight for your basement and foundation. It can also erode your landscaping.

With excessive amounts of water saturating the ground, the soil expands, pushing your foundation. After the soil dries up, the foundation contracts. This continuous process of expanding and contracting puts strain on your foundation.

When water gets into your basement, it can cause the following issues:

  • Windows and doors that don’t shut
  • Uneven flooring
  • Cracks in drywall

Keeping gutters free and clear of dirt and debris will deter extensive water from destroying your basement and foundation, and land. 

Deters Animal Nesting and Insect Infestations

Insects and small animals like rodents love stationary water. It’s one of their favorite watering holes to stop by for a drink.

Leaves inside gutters provide a haven for insects, birds, and squirrels to build a nest. From the gutter, it’s an easy commute to the roof for these critters to nest, breed, and infest your attic.

How Often You Should Clean Your Gutters

Photo: tamas / Adobe Stock

Gutters need cleaning once to twice a year. The best time is autumn after the leaves fall from the trees. But homeowners also clean their gutters in the spring if they have a lot of trees on their property.

The cost of gutter cleaning ranges from $2 to $6 per linear foot, depending on several factors.

Gutter cleaning can make a good DIY project, but only if you’re comfortable and have steady footing on a high ladder carrying two buckets, one for debris, and the other for your tools. 

The tools you’ll need:

  • Ladder
  • Buckets
  • Trowel
  • Work gloves
  • Protective glasses
  • Garden hose

Outsourcing the job to a professional can prevent injuries from falls and allow the gutter cleaning specialist to check for any drainage and gutter wear issues.

How Professionals Clean Gutters

Using the right procedure, tools, and supplies helps professionals get the job of gutter cleaning done with ease and perfection. From the right ladder and pro vacuums to trowels and power washers, here’s how pros get gutter cleaning achieved in four simple steps.

  1. Choose the appropriate ladder that’s the proper height
  2. Remove debris, algae, and any pests with industrial-strength vacuums, or by hand with a trowel
  3. Flush out the gutter with a power washer or a garden hose
  4. Inspect your gutter and gutter guards to see if you need to replace them

Installing Gutter Guards

A pro might recommend installing gutter guards, wired mesh screens that attach to your gutters, to trap the debris before it reaches your gutters. Another type of gutter guard is a gutter helmet that clips onto gutters and rolls the debris and water off your roof. But know that gutter guards aren’t magic and filters still need routine cleaning. However, gutter guards are constantly being improved—and the right ones can prevent you from having to do year-to-year cleanups. 

The cost of gutter guards ranges between $8 to $20 per linear foot installed. An average cost for gutter guard installation is $15.00 a linear foot, but this also depends on the size and structure of your home.

“To prevent constant gutter clean up, gutter guards are highly recommended as they help extend the life of not only your gutters and overall structure but also helps property owners save money and maintenance time in the long term,” says Eric Gonzalez, Angi Expert Review Board Member and President of Regions Commercial Building.

Should You Hire a Professional for Gutter Cleaning or Do It Yourself?

If you don’t like heights, getting dirty, and possibly coming face to face with pests, you should have your gutters cleaned professionally by our technicians at Softwash Hawaii.

Contact Softwash Hawaii today for a complimentary estimate.  

But if you’re experienced working on ladders and don’t mind the mess, gutter cleaning could be a cost-effective weekend project. But always practice ladder safety, like keeping your body between side rails, working on level ground, and maintaining awareness of your surroundings.

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