How often do you clean your gutters? If the answer’s not very often, you could be asking for trouble. Gutters carry rainwater away from your house, and if they’re blocked in any way they simply can’t do their job. This article looks at the reasons why you need to clean your gutters regularly and how to go about it the right way.
Why your gutters need cleaning
Blocked gutters can lead to a range of hazardous situations. These include:
- Risk of fire – Particularly in bushfire-prone areas. Leaves in blocked gutters can self-combust on hot days, and flying embers from bushfires that land in blocked gutters can quickly set fire to your house.
- Structural damage – Blocked gutters can lead to water pouring down your home’s wooden fascias, causing them to rot and – in worst case scenarios – allowing water to flow back into your ceiling or into your basement below.
- Pest infestations – Rotting leaves in blocked gutters will attract pests such as insects and rodents, posing a health risk to your home. Mosquitoes breeding in standing water can also spread disease.
- Damage to gutters – The gutters themselves will quickly rust and begin to leak if not cleared of water, creating damage to your home and gardens below and requiring expensive replacement.
- Loss of drinking water – If you have a rainwater tank connected to your gutters, then rotting debris and rust from your gutters will find its way into the tank and contaminate your drinking water.
How to clean your gutters
Gutter cleaning is a dangerous job, because you are either on your roof when you are doing it or perched on a high ladder. If you are not confident in either of these situations, then you would be well advised to hire a professional to clean your gutters for you.
If, however, you are confident working at heights, the tools you will need to clean your gutters include the following:
- A sturdy ladder that is higher than your roof line, so that you do not have to stretch to reach your gutters. Make sure it is level and its feet are firmly planted on the ground.
- A hose for cleaning out your downpipes if they are blocked. If they are badly blocked, a plumbers snake may also be necessary.
- A pair of good gardening gloves to protect your hands from dirt and scratches when scooping debris from your gutters.
- A gardening trowel to help you dislodge and remove rotting and muddy debris.
- A tarpaulin or plastic sheeting laid on the ground below, so that you can drop gutter refuse directly onto it and easily dispose of it later.
One way to reduce the need for gutter cleaning is to install good quality gutter guards. These will prevent leaf build up for a while, but will not entirely remove the need for cleaning as dirt and debris will still find a way through them over time.