When you live in Minnesota, you’re always aware of that sage saying from TV’s “Game of Thrones” series: Winter is Coming.
But while preparations for the state’s roughest seasons are always a must, one of most important tasks to ensure that your home is ready for the bitter cold happens in the fall and is often overlooked, despite being right above your head.
Proper gutter cleaning and maintenance is one of the most forgotten tasks when it comes to maintaining your home’s structural integrity and having problems get complicated by ice and snow. You don’t want to be cleaning your gutters in winter.
Gutters are ostensibly there to collect rainwater and send it through the downspouts and away from the foundation of your home. But if there are trees on your property, your gutters are going to get clogged over time by leaves, sticks, pine needles, and all sorts of other debris that keep them from functioning as they were intended.
Bad Gutter Problems
If there is a build-up of debris in your gutters, the rainwater can’t drain properly. That leads to rainwater pooling around your foundation, which can weaken it, cause cracks, or seep into your crawlspace or basement. Once it’s there, it will sit and fester mold and do more permanent damage to your subterranean structures. Having water stuck in your gutters gets even more complicated in winter. When it freezes and stays frozen, it expands. This can cause serious damage to the gutters, which can collapse from the additional weight, along with your roof and fascia.
Ways to Clean Your Gutters
The most efficient ways to clean your gutters depend on what yard equipment you know how to use and either own or want to rent, and how comfortable you are up on your own roof or on a high ladder. While gutter cleaning is important, it is vital that you get the job done without damaging your gutters, or falling off a ladder. We made this ladder safety blog to help you choose the right ladder for the job and to avoid leaning your ladder surfaces that could get damaged.
If you have a leaf blower, there’s a nozzle attachment just for gutters that you can buy or rent. Start far from the downspout and work your way along. Some of the debris won’t move and that will be a job to do by hand. When it’s all cleared out, you can use a hose to wash the rest of the leaves down the spout.
If you have a pressure washer, you can kill three birds with one stone. It is great at blasting debris loose inside the gutter itself and also has enough pressure power to clear out any clogs in your downspouts; you’ll be amazed what comes out the other end sometimes! While you’re up there, you can hose off your roof and the sides of your house to wipe out dirt and grime that builds up on most surfaces during the summer and early fall.
A third option is going with a wet/dry vacuum, which like the leaf blower can have some drawbacks. Depending on what sort of trees are on your property, their leaves might be much too big to be sucked up by the hose. You also might need to take several trips up and down to empty the vacuum depending on the size of the tool and the size of your home.
Don’t Forget the Downspouts!
A final word – if your downspouts are clogged, even partially, the cleanest gutters in the world aren’t going to make a lik of difference. When you’re done cleaning the gutters, send water from your hose down the spout to see if it’s running freely at the bottom. If not, you’ll definitely need a pressure washer to get in there and show that debris who’s boss.