House Grail is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How Often Should I Clean My Gutters? Steps, Signs & Side Effects

man cleaning gutter

It’s easy to forget about your gutters when they aren’t causing you any immediate problems. But keeping your gutters clean is as important for their preventative maintenance as brushing your teeth is for your mouth. Your gutters need to be clear to do their job of directing water away from your house.

Just how often do you need to be cleaning your gutters?

It depends. Home care experts recommend cleaning them a minimum of two times a year. If you have a lot of foliage in your yard, such as pine trees, that may necessitate cleaning your gutters every three months.

house divider

When Do Your Gutters Need Cleaning?

Some telltale signs will indicate when it’s time to clean your gutters. These signs include:

  • Overflowing gutters: If the gutters aren’t doing their job properly, they may cause blockages from leaves or debris. The overflow can cause streaks or stains on your siding, so check for those too.
  • Sagging gutters: Gutters clogged with leaves and debris will lead not only to overflow but to an increased load that the gutters are not structurally built to handle, forcing them to sag. This can also signify that your system needs to be replaced.
  • Standing water near your home: Puddles around your foundation indicate that your gutters aren’t functioning as they were designed. If its left too long, standing water can cause cracks in your foundation.
  • Animals and birds in your gutters: If you see an increase in the number of critters visiting your gutters, they might be attracted to accumulated debris, or they may use the gutters as nesting sites..
  • Sprouting plants: The garden in your gutter may be the symptom of dirt building up in the system.

It’s easy to recognize when it’s time to clean your gutters. Looking for these signs will help you determine when you need to perform a non-routine cleaning.

gutter with guard full of dry leaves
Image Credit: 123switch, Pixabay

The Best Time To Clean Your Gutters

Professionals recommend that you regularly clean your gutters at least twice a year. These are times you’ll see the most buildup from dirt, leaves, and other plant material.

However, other factors help determine the best time to clean your gutters. If you live in a place that has heavy rainfall at certain times of the year, you may want to clean right before the season begins.

It’s also wise to check if your gutters need maintenance after a severe storm. Heavy winds can blow excessive amounts of debris into your gutters, which can cause severe clogging. It’s advised to wait a few days after a rain to clean them, so that the debris has a chance to dry.

How to Clean Your Gutters

You can always hire a technician to clean your gutters if you don’t feel comfortable using a ladder. If you are the do-it-yourself type, though, cleaning your gutters is a relatively simple task that can be completed in an afternoon.

man installing roof gutter
Image Credit: Jasmine Sahin, Shutterstock
Follow these steps to clean your gutters thoroughly:
  • Before you climb your ladder, don your safety goggles and rubber gloves.
  • Place your ladder on level ground near a downspout. Remove and clean the downspout strainer.
  • Clear out the larger debris by hand. For stubborn, more compacted debris, you might want to use a tool like a trowel.
  • Once you’re finished clearing the debris, flush the gutters with a garden hose or a pressure washer. Be careful not to spray underneath your roof shingles.
  • If you notice that the downspouts aren’t draining quickly after the flush, you may need to hose them out as well. You can feed the hose through the bottom and turn the water on fully to clear any blockages.
  • Flush the gutters a second time, then inspect them and repair any damage you find.
  • Finish up with a pressure washer to clean the exteriors and touch up with paint as you see fit.

Cleaning your gutters can be tedious and labor-intensive, but if you come prepared with plenty of buckets and a friend or family member to help you, it can go quickly and smoothly and save you the cost of a professional service.

How Long Can You Go Without Cleaning Your Gutters?

It’s advised to clean your gutters regularly at least once or twice a year and more often if the situation calls for it.

The longest you can safely go without cleaning your gutters is one year. Leaving it that long can cause unfortunate side effects, which ultimately could be more expensive and time-consuming to fix.

What Happens if You Don’t Clean Your Gutters?

house with corroded gutter and downspout
Image Credit: Antranias, Pixabay

Gutter neglect can have serious consequences. Letting debris gather in your gutters may cause lasting damage that will lead to costly repairs or even replacement. If you don’t clean your gutters regularly, you may notice side effects such as:

Side effects
  • Leaks and overflows: Allowing blockages to build up and grow more compact over time will increase the severity of leaks and flooding from your gutters.
  • Mold and rot: The leaf litter that gathers in your gutters will eventually begin to decompose, which will allow mold to flourish with the potential to cause health problems for the people in your home.
  • Water damage to your roof: If your gutters are compromised, they won’t be able to redirect water where it needs to go, resulting in water damage to your roof and to your walls.
  • Infestations from pests and critters: The buildup of debris can attract insects and animals that may cause further destruction to your roof.
  • Damage to your driveway, yard, and foundation: If water isn’t draining correctly, it can collect in other areas on your property and cause mold, cracks, and soil erosion.

house divider


The importance of maintaining your gutters cannot be overstated. Cleaning the gutters allows the water to flow correctly, protects your house and yard, and prevents further damage that is expensive and inconvenient to repair. Performing routine maintenance of your gutters at least twice a year will keep your gutters and your house happy and healthy.

Featured Image Credit: Skorzewiak, Shutterstock


Related posts

OUR categories

Project ideas

Hand & power tools