There are few home improvement tasks less exciting and more important than cleaning your gutters. While no homeowner looks forward to climbing up a ladder on a chilly day to dig the built-up debris from their gutters, it’s well established that clogged gutters are more likely to lead to water damage, including basement/crawl space leaks, foundation wall cracks, and eventually mold and mildew. To avoid the need for these urgent home repairs, you should plan to clean the gutters at least twice a year, and one of those times should be during the fall before the winter weather starts. If you haven’t gotten around to it yet this season, here are some tips to make the entire process easier to save you time (and the money you would have spent on future damage).

Collect Your Tools

The first thing you should do is make sure you have the tools you need to get started (really, there’s nothing worse than climbing up to the roof just to realize you have to run to the hardware store for gloves). Make sure you have these items and make sure they’re dependable and well working enough to rely on:

  • Ladder
  • Rubber or thick, suede gloves
  • Garden hose
  • Garden hose pistol nozzle
  • Plastic gutter scoop
  • Bucket for debris
  • Non-slip sneakers
  • Safety glasses

If you know you’ll need to replace a portion of your gutter, you can grab the supplies now or wait until you know just how much you need. Most likely, if you keep up with regular cleaning, your gutters should stay in good shape.

Start From the Top

Before you get started, you want to make sure you clean the roof off, so the gutters don’t get clogged all over again with the next big rain. Roofs can be covered in dew in the morning, so try to wait until the sun is fully up or even the late afternoon, if you can. Clean the leaves and debris off the roof, either by hand or with a hose, and be sure to wear your non-slip shoes. Once the roof is clean, you can move on to the gutter themselves (though if you cleaned the roof in the late afternoon, you may want to wait until the next day to get started). Make sure your ladder is secure and you’ve collected your gloves, scoop, hose, and bucket if you need one. Use the scoop to remove debris from the gutters, and make sure you focus in on the downspouts (since water flows toward the downspouts, they’re most likely to become clogged). When you’ve removed most of the large debris in a given area you can use the hose and nozzle to move leftover debris toward the downspouts and then flush those downspouts to check for clogs and leaks.

Other Options to Consider

If heights aren’t something you’re comfortable with, there are other tools you can take advantage of to clean your your gutters. HGTV recommends the Gutter Sense Rain Gutter Tool so you can keep your feet planted firmly on the ground, and other brands like the Gutterwhiz Gutter Cleaning Tool and the iRobot Looj Gutter Cleaning Robot can be good options if you’re willing to put down the money. However if you’re not convinced, your best bet is to get in touch with a gutter cleaning professional so you know exactly what to expect.