Your Brief Guide to Gutter Maintenance and Cleaning

More consumers are relying on gutter protection products to help them with gutter maintenance and cleaning. While products like gutter guards are considered helpful, it’s worth noting that they will not eliminate the need to clean your gutters.

Sooner or later, you’ll have to check and clean your gutter system so it can continue to function well. If you recently installed a rain gutter or are planning to get gutter protection in Maryland, here’s a brief guide on how you can properly maintain and clean them.

Why Cleaning Your Gutter is Important

A gutter system prevents rainwater from building up on your roof. Having a dirty or inefficient gutter can cause water to seep through your roof, walls, landscape, and even the foundation of your house.

Gutter protection systems help reduce the number of times you have to clean your gutters, but they, too, will eventually get clogged. That is why you should always get your gutters cleaned at least twice a year.

Here are some other reasons you should always get your gutter cleaned.

Water Damage

Water buildup can cause untold damage to your home over time. Even slight water stagnation can seep through the building structure and weaken it. Clogged gutters are usually the cause of leakage and ice dams if your roof has shingles.

Your house’s foundation can also suffer due to water buildup. If water overflowing from the roof spills over to the ground, it seeps down to the foundation and weakens it. Over time, the foundation will start showing cracks and become a threat to the entire structure of your house.

Breeding Ground for Pests

Clogged and poorly maintained gutters make the perfect home for various pests like:

  • Insects (Bees, Hornets, and Wasps)
  • Wood-destroying insects (Termites)
  • Rodents
  • Opossums
  • Mosquitoes

If left to their own devices, these pests will eventually make your gutters their breeding ground and continue to torment you or your family. They can also bring diseases, especially mosquitoes.

Dirty and water-soaked gutters may cause your roof’s fascia boards to rot quickly. When these boards weaken and decay, they provide pests with direct access to your home.

Shorter Lifespan and Higher Expense

Not all gutters and gutter protection products are equal. Some, like foam guards, can quickly rot, while metallic gutters can easily corrode and rust. Depending on the type of gutter protection you have, the lack of maintenance can significantly shorten your gutter’s lifespan.

Structural water damage, roof repairs, and seepage caused by clogged gutters can also lead to expensive repairs. For example, the average cost of water damage repair may reach $3,000, while roof repair can net you around $900.

Clogged and dirty gutters are financial time bombs that can be prevented simply through routine maintenance.

Professional Gutter Cleaning Services

professional gutter cleaner

One of the easiest ways to clean your home’s rain gutters is by hiring a professional gutter cleaning service. Hiring professional cleaners is perfect for those who do not have the proper tools and staff to carry out the maintenance tasks.

Here are some other benefits of working with gutter cleaning professionals:

  • Helps you avoid accidents: Cleaning rain gutters can be dangerous work as it requires you to use a ladder and work on the roof. By bringing in experts, you keep yourself safe from potential accidents. If you do not have any experience or confidence to clean the gutters yourself, it’s safer to leave the work to the professionals.
  • Gets quick results: With experience comes efficiency. Professional gutter cleaners do it for a living every single day. Delegating the task of cleaning your rain gutters to them will get the job done quickly.
  • Knows the intricacies of the job: Gutter maintenance may involve more than just removing leaves and debris. Professionals know exactly where to find clogs and notice any potential issues with the gutter system, like leaks or corrosion. They also know how to deal with pests that have settled in your gutter.

Hiring professionals can cost anywhere from $75 to $350. Nationwide, the average price is $150, but it depends on the extent and nature of the job. Pricing is generally calculated by square feet or linear feet.

Most gutter cleaning service prices can run from $0.50 to $1.50 per linear foot. You can measure the house’s perimeter to get a rough idea of how many linear feet your home has and how much it will cost you.

Price Considerations When Hiring Professional Gutter Cleaners

While there’s generally an average price for getting your gutters professionally cleaned, several factors affect the price. Your roof’s height and size are two of them.

If your home is a 2- or 3-story structure, the gutter cleaning company may need to use tall ladders and specialized safety equipment like harnesses to get the job done. It will cost significantly higher compared to single-level homes.

Houses close to pine and evergreen trees may also be a little expensive than homes further away from the foliage. That’s because some companies charge higher depending on how hard it is to remove leaves, needles, branches, and other debris from gutters.

The presence of gutter guards is also a factor. If the gutter protection system did its job, it would be easier for the cleaners to remove the debris. It can help you avoid any additional fees.

However, if the gutter guards are damaged and make it harder for the cleaning company to remove debris, you can expect to pay more for the service.

Getting bids is the best way to know how much you might pay for having your gutters cleaned. It’s common to get estimates from at least two or three companies, compare the prices, and choose which one can get the job at the right price.

Properly Cleaning Cleaning Gutters Yourself

It may be easier to get your gutters cleaned by professionals, but it’s not impossible to do it on your own. You’ll need to be familiar with specific tools, though, and be healthy enough to do some climbing.

Check out the following gutter maintenance guide to help you clean your gutters safely and successfully.

Always Keep Ladder Safety in Mind

Over 500,000 people fall from ladders every year, and 97% of them happen at home. Never underestimate the dangers posed by a simple ladder. On single-story houses, most ladders are generally 14 feet above the ground. Any additional story or level after that is another 14 feet, which is a very precarious height to work in.

When working on ladders, keep the following best practices in mind:

  • 20-foot ladders are the best choice when working on most houses with one or two levels.
  • Inspect the ladder for signs of defects before using it.
  • Place the ladder at the proper angle, which is usually equal to one-fourth of the working length.
  • Secure the locks and tie off the ladder at the base before climbing.
  • Never stand on the top three rungs.
  • Always watch out for power line hazards when moving and placing ladders.
  • Never work on a ladder on your own. Always have someone to look out for you.

Use Protective Gear

Apart from using a ladder correctly, wearing the right protective gear will keep you safe as you clean. Consider using shoes with rubber non-slip soles to provide enough grip, especially if you need to climb onto the roof.

Use gloves for extra grip on the rungs and protection against debris. Latex-coated cloth gloves are a favorite among professionals because they can provide safety and grip without sacrificing mobility.

Consider wearing some form of eye protection as well. It should prevent any debris from entering or falling into your eyes and help you prevent falls by preserving your vision.

Cleaning the Gutters

Cleaning your rain gutters requires two things: a long garden hose and a gutter scoop. Using these two tools, you should be able to clean and remove most types of debris. It’s also possible to buy a cleaning solution for gutters, but you can make one by mixing equal parts of chlorine bleach and water.

  1. Always choose a cloudy day with mild temperatures. Working on a sunny day can tire you faster, and sunlight can temporarily blind you while working. Working on rain and snow is a slip hazard, which can be extremely dangerous when you’re on a ladder.
  2. Cleaning the gutters is easy. Using a gutter scoop, remove the majority of the debris from the trough. If there are any clogs, a few gentle poking and scooping should loosen them up.
  3. Turn on the garden hose and blast water onto the gutter trough and downspout. It will help get rid of smaller debris. If you notice the water backing up or coming out slowly on the other end of the downspout, that is a sign of clogging.
  4. If you believe a clog is present inside the downspout, try tapping it from top to bottom. Doing so should help knock and loosen the debris. If tapping isn’t enough, you can suck out the debris from below using a wet and dry vacuum.

Gutter Maintenance Is Worth the Effort 

Maintaining and cleaning your rain gutters can be a challenge, but you are never without options. With the right gear and mindset, it’s possible to clear the gutters yourself. But the best—and safest—option is still to work with professionals. With a bit of commitment and care, you can help your gutters perform better and continue their job of protecting the integrity of your home.

G.H. Clark Contractors offers professional gutter-related services like installation, repair, replacement, gutter protection, and cleaning. If you are looking for a company to help you clean your gutters, contact us today for a free, no-pressure estimate. Our experts are more than ready to look into your concern.

Roofing Contractor Prince Frederick, MD