The Routine Gutter Maintenance You Should Do

Man working on bottom of a gutter

Gutter maintenance is an often overlooked and messy — but necessary — chore. Are you unsure where to start or what tools you need? In this article, we’ll explore five things to keep in mind when performing routine gutter maintenance. 

Tools Needed for Routine Gutter Maintenance

To properly maintain your home gutter system, you need the right gutter cleaning tools. You may not need every item listed below depending on the type of gutter maintenance you’re doing:

  • Garden hose
  • Trowel
  • Plumber’s snake
  • Extension Ladder
  • Stepladder
  • Rake
  • Broom
  • Leaf Blower
  • Bucket
  • Drill
  • Gutter screws
  • Work gloves
  • Plastic garbage bags
  • Rags

Routine Gutter Maintenance Tips

When it comes to home maintenance, your gutter system plays an important role in protecting your home and should be clear of blockage. Otherwise, major problems like roof leaks, foundation damage, and basement flooding could occur. With routine maintenance, these issues are easy to avoid.

Most home gutter maintenance is DIY, but some homeowners may need to hire a professional gutter cleaning service if they’re unsteady on an extension ladder, have a steep roof, or if the task is simply too big to do themselves. 

Pro Tip: When working on a ladder, it’s a good idea to have another person on the ground to act as a stabilizer. Safely position your ladder on flat, stable ground. Avoid wet areas, as your ladder can sink into soft soil and tip.

When to Clean Gutters

Photo Credit: Nannette Turner / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

It’s important to clean out your gutters at least twice a year — or more if you have a lot of trees — to prevent blockage and sagging gutters. During winter, ice dams form when water freezes inside the gutter. This is more likely to happen when leaves and other debris are clogging your gutters. Use a trowel to scrape debris from your entire gutter system.

For more details, read How to Clean Gutters

Pro Tip: To reduce the amount of gutter cleanup you do each year, install gutter guards on your home. They will help prevent clogs and keep you off the roof.

Check Gutters for Damage

After cleaning your rain gutters, check them for leaks, rust, and corrosion. To repair a leaky seam or joint, apply silicon caulking or sealant to the area.

If you find holes, purchase a repair kit from your local home improvement store or use metal flashing to patch it.

When rust is present, there’s a good chance your rain gutters need to be replaced. Swap your existing gutters with aluminum, vinyl, or copper gutters, which do not rust.

Secure Gutters

Are sagging gutters wreaking havoc on your landscaping below? That means water is not flowing off your roof and into your gutter system properly.

Check your gutter hangers and spikes, which connect your gutter system to your roof. If they’re loose, replace your spikes and screws with new ones.

Pro Tip: Replace gutter spikes with gutter screws, which hold much better.

Inspect Downspouts

The easiest way to tell if you have a clog is when water is overflowing near the top of your downspout. If this occurs, check your downspout elbow first.

Most clogs are in this part of the downspout. Homeowners can use a leaf blower, garden hose, or plumber’s snake to free debris from the downspout and push it out of the bottom opening.

If you notice erosion near your foundation and the bottom of the downspout, install extenders to direct water away from your home. Also, make sure your downspouts are free of leaks, rust, and corrosion and that their joints fit correctly.

Clear the Roof of Debris

Photo Credit: Randall1022 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Do you have a home with heavy tree coverage? Leaves, pine needles, sticks, acorns, and other debris can build up on top of your roof. When it rains, debris from your roof can be swept into your gutter system and cause clogs. Use a rake or broom to remove debris from your roof.

Safety first: Never go on your roof when it is windy, wet, or icy. Clearing your roof of debris is already a dangerous task. There’s no need to risk serious injury from falling off your roof.

FAQ About Gutters

Why are Gutters Important?

The main purpose of gutters is to protect your home from mold, mildew, and other water damage. Gutters funnel water from your roof and away from your foundation and siding.

Without a gutter system, your home could experience basement flooding, foundation damage, roof leaks, and weakened shingles, soffits, and fascia.

What are Gutter Hangers?

Gutter hangers are a piece of metal that attaches to your gutters, wraps around the bottom, and attaches to your roof’s fascia board. Typically made from aluminum, copper, or galvanized steel, their main functions are to prevent sagging gutters and to attach the gutter system to your home.

Gutter hangers should be installed every 3 feet, unless you live in a cold-weather climate where it’s suggested to install them every 2 feet.

Which Gutter Material Has the Longest Lifespan?

Copper gutters are the longest-lasting on the market with a lifespan of up to a century. As they age, copper gutters develop a distinctive patina that prevents mold and mildew formation.

However, their excellent durability comes at a price as copper gutters are the most expensive option availa

When to Hire a Gutter Cleaning Pro

An integral part of home improvement, gutter maintenance helps prevent foundation damage, basement flooding, roof leaks, and other types of water damage. However, performing tasks at dangerous heights isn’t for everyone. Hire a gutter cleaning pro. Don’t take chances on a ladder, when a pro can do that for you.

Main Photo Credit: Ethoseo / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

Whitney Lehnecker

Whitney Lehnecker

A native of Ohio, Whitney Lehnecker is a career journalist and newspaper designer. She now lives in Central Florida with her husband and two pups, Goose and Bindi.