Springtime is, in part, about helping your property make the transition into warmer weather. A great place to start is your roof and your drainage systems – your gutters and downspouts, specifically. Debris like branches, leaves, and other miscellaneous items left over from late autumn and blown by winter winds and into your gutters and downspouts may become a problem if not discovered before the proverbial April showers.
So, what do you do about it? Home and garden writer Alyssa Davis provides a jumping off point here in tackling this important area of seasonal maintenance.
Keeping your home’s gutters and downspouts clean and running freely is a very important home maintenance task. When your gutters and downspouts are clogged with leaves, branches and other debris, water will not be able to drain properly, which could contribute to water issues around the foundation of your home.
Even if you cleaned your gutters and downspouts last fall, it’s important to clean them again so that you are prepared for spring showers. Here are some tips you can use to get your gutters and downspouts clean.
Safety is of the utmost of importance when cleaning your home’s gutters and downspouts. If you are using ladders or scaffolding, make sure the ground is firm and dry under the supports. If the ground is too soft, your ladder or scaffolding support could sink into the ground, potentially causing you to fall. You should also wear safety goggles when cleaning gutters and downspouts to protect your eyes against twigs and debris, as well as work gloves to protect your hands.
Cleaning the Gutters
Depending on the weather, the debris that has accumulated in your gutters could be either damp or dry. If the gutter contents are dry, you can simply scoop the leaves and other debris out of the gutters using a trowel or scooper, allowing them to fall to the ground to be raked up later. Alternatively, you could also cut the bottom out of a work bucket, taping a trash bag to the bottom. Cut the bucket handle with metal cutters, forming hooks from the cut ends. Hang the bucket from the ladder, and simply scoop the leaves and debris into the bucket, which will in turn fill the trash bag.
If your gutter debris is damp, your job will be a bit more difficult. Wet leaves are heavier and messier to work with, so take any necessary precautions to ensure your safety. If you spread a plastic tarp on the ground under your ladder, you can simply scoop the wet debris out of the gutter and drop it onto the tarp. As you progress, just move the tarp along the ground so that it’s always within safe reach.
Clearing the Downspouts
Once the gutters have been cleaned, it’s time to clear the downspouts. You’ll want to make sure to do this step before you rinse the gutters. Place the end of the garden hose in the top of the downspout. Then, have somebody else turn the water on. If there aren’t any clogs, the water will flow clearly. If it doesn’t, you can try wrapping a rag around the hose, effectively sealing the top of the downspout opening. When the water is turned on, the pressure will hopefully push the obstructing debris out. If this doesn’t work, you can use a drain snake to remove the clog. Then, test again with the hose.
Rinsing the Gutters
Once the downspouts are flowing freely, you can use the hose to rinse the gutters. If you create any downspout clogs during this process, clear them out as you did previously. When finished, your gutters will be clean and your downspouts will be flowing freely, keeping water away from your foundation and out of your basement.