When it comes to risky home improvement tasks, cleaning out the gutters is certainly among the contenders for the top spot. In most cases, this intimidating chore requires homeowners to use ladders. Once they’re up, they have to give the gutter a rigorous cleaning it deserves.
However, using a ladder is never completely safe. There’s always a risk of falling, which typically leads to serious injuries (like broken bones) and possibly even death. For that matter, many homeowners search for ways to clean the gutters without having to climb up on a ladder. If you’re among them, you’re in luck – there are several options available.
In this post, we’ll be taking a closer look at how to thoroughly clean the rain gutter from the safety of the ground.
- 1 The Gutter System – A Quick Overview
- 2 How Do I Know If My Gutters Are Clogged?
- 3 How Often Do I Need to Clean My Gutters?
- 4 How to Clean Gutters Without a Ladder?
- 5 Check and Clean the Downpipe
- 6 Conclusion
The Gutter System – A Quick Overview
As you already know, the purpose of the rain gutter is to direct water away from the house.
Falling on the roof, rainwater flows down into the gutters and gets carried away from your home. This prevents it from causing structural damage. As an owner, you want to protect your sidewalk, driveway, and foundation from water pooling on them, and the gutter system can help you with this.
Another important role of rain gutter is to prevent soil erosion. If you have garden beds next to the walls of your house, soil erosion will lead to water puddles, which will then drown your flowers. Moreover, soil erosion can harm the foundation of your house. This leads to uneven floors and cracked walls, and repairing these can cost a fortune.
How Do I Know If My Gutters Are Clogged?
As we already mentioned, soil erosion can drown the plants. If the plants located close to the exterior of your house are dying from too much water, that’s a good sign your gutters are clogged. Is the siding of your home rotting? Does your basement flood a lot? If so, check the gutter system for blockage.
Another good sign is a leaky roof. When it’s sitting in the gutter system, right next to the roofline, the rainwater can easily back up under the shingles. As you can already guess, this leads to leaks in the attic, and, in turn, water damage on the ceiling.
If you’re experiencing any of these problems, there’s a pretty good chance your gutters require cleaning or repairing. Failing to address this issue can lead to mold damage, which is bound to take a serious toll on your wallet.
How Often Do I Need to Clean My Gutters?
On average, you should thoroughly clean their gutter systems at least three times a year.
This, however, depends upon several factors, such as the amount of precipitation your area gets or the number of trees around your house.
Anytime a gutter is full, it’s best to clean it out immediately. This is much more likely to take place during autumn months, due to falling leaves. If you notice that the downspouts aren’t flowing as they should, give the gutter system a meticulous cleaning.
How to Clean Gutters Without a Ladder?
As we said, getting up on a ladder to clean the gutters puts you at risk of falling. Those who’d like to avoid a lifetime of pain will be happy to know that gutter cleaning can be done from the safety of the ground. Here are a couple of options:
Prevention is Better Than Cure
First of all, keep in mind that preventing bad things from taking place is always easier than sorting them out once they occur. The same applies to gutter cleaning.
Today’s market offers several products that successfully prevent the buildup of waste in the gutter system. These include:
- Foam Gutter Filter
In simple terms, this would be a long piece of foam. A homeowner slides it inside the gutter, and the filter then allows rainwater to flow through while preventing leaves and other debris from entering.
Although simple in construction, foam gutter filters can be quite effective. However, in some cases, they will still let smaller dirt particles get through and build up over time.
Furthermore, they restrict the amount of water that can get inside the gutter system. As expected, this can be quite problematic during heavy downpours – the foam gutter filter will cause overflowing.
While not a maintenance-free solution, it’s a good choice for lazier homeowners living in regions with low precipitation.
- Gutter Guard – Check on Amazon
These products work in a way that’s very similar to the filters mentioned above.
Basically, you can clip gutter guards on top of the gutter system, and, in that way, prevent large and medium items from getting inside.
Unfortunately, just like the foam filters, gutter guards can also reduce the flow of rainwater. It’s not an ideal solution for areas that frequently experience heavy downpours.
- Gutter Hedgehog
A lot more common in Europe than in the States, the gutter hedgehog is one of the better solutions.
Essentially, this product is a long, flexible brush that you can slide into the gutter system. While its bristles prevent the debris from entering the gutters, they don’t affect the water flow in any way.
Gutter Cleaning Extension for a Vacuum Cleaner
When it comes to cleaning a gutter system from the ground, this is one of the most common solutions. These extensions come in the form of plastic tubes that can be attached to a vacuum cleaner.
As expected, the end of a gutter-cleaning extension for a vacuum cleaner is bent at an angle. This allows a homeowner to reach inside the vertical gutters while standing below them.
If you only have to deal with debris such as dust, twigs, smaller leaves, and pine needles, this is an effective solution. However, if you want to get rid of pine cones and large twigs, using a gutter-cleaning extension for a vacuum cleaner isn’t the best idea.
As for obtaining such a product, there are a lot of do-it-yourself guides online. Or, if you’re not really into homemade solutions, simply buy one on websites such as Amazon. Before making a purchase, make sure to check the dimensions of your vacuum cleaner to get an extension that fits.
Gutter Cleaning Attachment for a Leaf Blower
These are very similar to the vacuum extensions mentioned above, check on Amazon. Opting for blowing the waste out of the gutter system instead of sucking it in has its pros and cons.
Since there’s no need to worry about pine cones fitting inside a small tube, getting rid of them becomes much easier. Moreover, using a leaf blower instead of a vacuum cleaner means you’ll never have to stop halfway through to empty the bag.
However, that also introduces an important downside of this method. Whatever gets blown out of your gutters ends up on the ground. In other words, you have to do another round of cleaning once you’re done with the gutters. Furthermore, you’ll have to wear safety goggles – there will be a lot of waste falling from above.
Similarly to the vacuum extensions, gutter-cleaning attachments for leaf blowers can be made at home. There are a number of videos online showing how to put one together by yourself.
If you decide to just buy one, keep in mind that most of these attachments are compatible only with the leaf blowers made by the same company.
Gutter Cleaning Attachment for a Pressure Washer
This attachment from Amazon is yet another answer to how to clean gutters from the ground. It’s very similar to the solutions listed above, only this time you’ll be using a pressure washer with a special extension.
The primary benefit here is that you’ll be using a powerful stream of water to clean your gutter system. However, this method is not recommended for those who don’t already own a pressure washer. Purchasing one just for this task would be a waste of money.
Like in the previous cases, you’ll need to buy a special attachment that works with your device. Depending on the size of your home and the length of the washer’s hose, you may even be able to clean the gutters without the attachment.
You will, however, need to use waterproof clothes and safety goggles – it’s a rather messy method. It works wonders on gutters full of old waste, as long as you’re okay with getting a bit dirty in the process.
Gutter Flusher Attachment for a Garden Hose
Obviously, this attachment on Amazon is one of the simplest solutions available – all of us have garden hoses in our yards. The method is very similar to the one using a pressure washer, only this time the stream of water won’t be as powerful.
In most cases, these attachments are just sets of tubes that homeowners can attach to their garden hoses. The best ones will have a couple of extra features, such as the non-slip grip for more convenient use. The spray head is often adjustable, making it easier to clean the hard-to-reach corners.
Rotary Gutter Cleaning SystemCheck on Amazon. Perhaps the most modern solution to cleaning gutters from the ground is the rotary gutter cleaning system.
These innovative devices combine the handiness of rotating brushes with the sheer force of power spraying. Their extendable, lightweight poles can be hooked up to cordless drills (for brushing) or garden hoses (for power washing).
The most modern models even feature special brackets, whose purpose is to house digital cameras. This turns the whole task into a breeze – you can easily inspect the entire gutter system and clean it as thoroughly as possible, all while standing on the ground.
Gutter Cleaning ApplicatorCheck on Amazon. Most homeowners forget about the fact that the inside of the gutter isn’t the only part that can get dirty. While they won’t clog up, the dust and dirt forming on the exterior of the gutter system can easily ruin your home’s curb appeal.
One way to clean the outside of the gutter is to use a gutter cleaning applicator. Available in all shapes and sizes, these are fitted onto poles and remove the need to use a ladder.
Most gutter cleaning applicators conform to the shape of the gutter and have wool pads that bring dirty gutters back to life. Unfortunately, most come without a pole, but they often fit any standard extension poles.
Check and Clean the Downpipe
Once you’ve successfully cleaned your vertical gutters from the ground, give the downpipe the same treatment.
Unless you have an abnormally complex gutter system, you probably have just a single downpipe. As something that moves the rainwater down into the soakaway, the downpipe is an essential part of the whole system.
When it’s not cleaned for a long time, the downpipe can become clogged with waste items such as tree leaves. If you’re suspecting a clog, tap the entire length of the downpipe with a screwdriver or a similar tool. If you hear a dull thud instead of a hollow sound, your downpipe is probably blocked.
The time and effort you’ll have to invest in cleaning the blockage depend on how bad the clog is. If you’re lucky, a garden hose will do the trick – push it down the pipe and turn on the water once it hits the clog.
In case this doesn’t work, you’ll have to unscrew the downpipe from the wall. After that, simply use a long stick to clean out the blockage. Once cleared, fix the downpipe back into its place and your problem will be solved.
As you can see, you don’t have to climb a ladder to clean out your gutters. Most of the options we listed come in the form of special extensions, which are attached to garden appliances most of us have at our homes. If none of these do the trick, the rotary gutter cleaning system undoubtedly will, Check on Amazon – it’s the ultimate solution for cleaning the gutter system from the ground.
If you do have to use a ladder for this task, never set it on uneven or sloping ground and always have someone hold it for you for additional stability. Protect your hands from the sharp edges of gutters with long sleeves and rubber gloves.