Fall is in the air. The sun is still shining, but the leaves are changing and the nights are getting cooler. If you haven’t already gotten around to it, this is a great time to get outside to clean the gutters and downspouts and get them ready to handle the winter rains that are coming soon.
There are many companies that offer gutter cleaning and this is certainly a good choice for many. However, if you are able and willing to perform this job yourself, it can be done in an afternoon.
Although not a difficult job, gutter cleaning can require a little preparation and planning. A few items that may be helpful are a ladder, a bucket with a handle to collect the leaves in and something to scoop the leaves up with like a gloved hand, a trowel or an old plastic jug with a handle.First, decide how you are going to collect the leaves. You can use a bucket to collect the debris in or you could just scoop and drop the leaves onto a plastic tarp placed on the ground. When either gets full, just dump the leaves into your compost bin or yard waste receptacle. If you are using a bucket, just make sure it does not get too heavy if you are scooping wet debris. Use your judgment and keep safety in mind when on the ladder.
Once the gutters are cleared of debris you’ll want to make sure the downspouts are cleared BEFORE you rinse the gutters. Take a hose and place it into the downspout. Have a helper turn on the water and check for downspout flow. If it’s clogged do the following to clear it out:
- Pack the downspout opening around the hose with a rag sealing the hose tight.
- Turn on the water pressure as hard as it will go, looking for the clog to clear and water to flow freely from the bottom of the downspout.
- If the clog persists you’ll have to clear it. Remove the hose and manually clear the clog using a plumbing snake. Feed the snake from the top of the downspout until it hits the obstruction which is usually at the point of a curve.
- Once you think you have it cleared, test for flow with a hose.
When you are sure the downspouts are cleared, rinse the gutter and downspout system to flush it out. Use a hose supplying water at the farthest gutter section from the downspout opening. Repeat in each section, proceeding around the house until all sections are rinsed and flushed.
And while you are up near the roof, check it for moss. A simple sprinkling of baking soda over your roof is an effective and non-toxic way to remove moss painlessly.
Finally, after clean up and before you go back inside, check your ductless heat pump condenser for leaves. Clear any debris from the unit and make sure the fan blades are unobstructed. This will keep your unit working optimally through the winter months.