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My Mind Is In The Gutter

It’s the job that’s dirty - not my mind! That’s one reason why I put off cleaning the rain gutters. The other reason, which sounds so much more acceptable, is…

I like to save this particular job for late spring - after all the dirty trees have shed their litter and the spring rains have washed that debris off the roof shingles.

Cleaning Rain Gutters & Downspouts/DrainpipesCleaning rain gutters can be a pretty dirty job. Depending on the types of trees you have growing around your house, your gutters could be full of pine cones, pine needles, leaves, discarded blossoms or maple keys. Too much dirt and debris will plug the downspouts and prevent rain water from draining properly. Instead it will flow over the sides of the eaves troughs like a waterfall, which totally defeats their purpose. If you missed cleaning your gutters in the fall and your downspouts are blocked, you’ll be scooping out handfuls of tree dirt that has turned into a disgusting sludge from sitting in rain-filled troughs. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?!

Helpful Tips For Cleaning Gutters

  • Start at the top and work your way down.
  • If you’ll be walking on the roof, wait for a dry day. (asphalt roof shingles can be slippery when wet)
  • Use a bucket to collect and contain the debris. If you simply toss everything to the ground you’re making more work for yourself as you’ll then have to rake too.
  • To speed up this messy process, make sure you have everything you need close at hand in the area where you’ll be working.
  • If you must work from a ladder, tie your bucket to the ladder to keep both of your hands are free.


Step One

Gather required equipment and get prepared:

Heavy Duty Rubber Gloves
Gutter Scoop
Plumber’s Snake/Drain Auger

Heavy duty rubber gloves will keep your hands clean and dry, as well as provide protection for your hands from sharp metal edges and screws.

The Plumber’s Snake/Drain Auger is used to remove blockages from the downspouts. Sometimes the pressure of the water isn’t strong enough to clear downspouts/drainpipes. A Plumber’s Snake/Drain Auger is flexible so that it can be maneuvered through curves and bends to get to a blockage.

Luckily for me, I have a door in my bedroom that leads to a small roof balcony. It’s easy access that doesn’t require climbing up and down a ladder.

A balcony means easier access to the roof and the rain gutters.

To better facilitate cleaning the rain gutters on my 1-1/2 story home, I take my rope onto the roof, tie one end to the balcony railing and lower the other end down to the ground. Then I go back downstairs and outside where I tie the rope to the garden hose below. When I’m ready for water I just pull the hose up with my rope. From that balcony access spot I can clean all of the gutters at the front of the house - second story and first story. Cleaning the rain gutters at the back of my house is done from a ladder on the deck.

Cleaning the gutters at the back of the house requires the use of a ladder.

Step Two

Scoop all visible debris into the bucket.

Step Three

Rinse the gutters with water from the garden hose.

Take a peek at the ends of the downspouts to see if the water is running freely. If not, you’ll need to employ that snake.

Step Four

Run the snake down the drainpipe/downspout to the point of the blockage.

Push the snake up from the bottom of the drainpipe/downspout to the source of the blockage.

Use an auger-type action to free the plugged up gunk.

Step Five

Do a final rinse from above.

Step Six

Clean and put away all of your equipment. (Don’t forget where you put it ’cause you’ll need it again in about six months.)

Dirt & Debris Prevention - Gutter Guards/Filters/Screens

This spring, after cleaning my rain gutters, I installed gutter guards in an attempt to keep them litter free. I’m hoping that they’ll significantly reduce the amount of summer and fall build-up. Obviously, it’s too soon to tell if this strategy is effective, so I’ll have to get back to you in the fall once the leaves are off the trees.

More Reasons For Cleaning Rain Gutters

  • allowing rain water to drain away from your house means there’s less chance of it entering your house
  • keeping the gutters clean helps to eliminate standing water, thereby preventing mosquito breeding grounds

1 comment

1 Home Maintenance - No More Procrastinating — SuzyRenovator { 06.10.08 at 12:04 pm }

[...] tuned for cleaning rain gutters, fixing a leak at the kitchen sink, repairing a nail pop, and trimming around the base of a [...]

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