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How to Unclog a Gutter: 7 Tips and Tricks

man cleaning gutter

Having plenty of trees around your house is beautiful—until the falling leaves get stuck in your gutter. They can wreak havoc on your gutter system, which might be quite an inconvenience, especially if you rely on rainwater.

If you leave your gutter blocked for a significant amount of time, the gutters might accumulate stagnant water, get loose due to the extra weight, and even eventually cause issues with the structure of your house. The best way to ensure that your gutter is not blocked is to clean it regularly.

This can be pretty challenging to do on your own for the first time, especially if you fear heights since it involves climbing on the roof. In this article, we’ll discuss some tips and tricks you can use to unclog your gutter.

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7 Tips and Tricks to Unclog Your Gutter

Before you begin unclogging your gutter, you need to follow several tips and precautions to avoid getting injured. Falling from the rooftop can cause broken limbs and even death in some cases, which is why you should take these safety precautions seriously.

  • Wear goggles to protect your eyes from debris and thick gloves to protect your hands as you work.
  • Select a steady ladder, preferably a metallic extension ladder, if you have a high roof.
  • If you are unsure about the stability of your roof and there’s a risk that it could collapse under your weight, consider cleaning from the ladder only.
  • Get help from a friend or neighbor if possible—you’ll need at least one person to steady the ladder.
  • Don’t clean the gutters during bad weather; wait for mild weather conditions to do it.
  • Use a leaf blower on sunny days when the leaves are dry. You can also use it to blow the leaves from the roof to prevent them from ending up in the gutter the next time it rains.
  • If you have a fear of heights or are uncomfortable around ladders, hire a professional to do the job.

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6 Ways to Identify if Your Gutter Is Clogged

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

Identifying a clogged gutter enables you to deal with the situation before it worsens.

Some of the telltale signs include:
  • Water spills over the edge of the gutters.
  • Water doesn’t flow out the bottom of the spout extensions.
  • Eroded soil directly below the gutter from the water splashes.
  • Peeling paint on the gutter.
  • Wet and moist siding beneath the gutter system.
  • Gutters pulling away from the roof, mostly because of excessive weight.

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8 Ways to Unclog Your Gutter and Downspout

Debris, like leaves, twigs, and pollen can clog your gutter system, which poses a potential risk to the structure of your house if not dealt with immediately.

The unclogging process highly depends on where the clog is. It’s easier to clean out the gutter than to unclog the downspout elbow. To unclog this part, you need to have a plumber’s snake, which you can easily get from the hardware store.

Follow the steps below to unclog your gutters:
  1. Remove all the loose debris from the gutter by sweeping, scooping, or using a leaf blower.
  2. Scoop out all the accumulated debris you can reach in the downspout opening using your hand and toss them in a bucket below you.
  3. To unclog the downspout elbow, insert the snake in the downspout until you are met with resistance.
  4. Turn the snake and pull it back and forth several times to loosen up the debris.
  5. If the snake does not work, disassemble the downspout and remove the clog.
  6. If the clog is below-ground, remove the downspout where it enters the ground and use the plumbing snake to remove the debris causing the clog.
  7. Flush out the debris by inserting a garden hose into the downspout and turning on the water.
  8. If the gutters are loose, reattach them firmly and ensure that the gutters fit in the downspout opening.

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4 Tips to Prevent Your Gutters From Getting Clogged

Prevention is better than cure. So, here’s how you can keep your gutters clog-free.

1. Carry Out a Routine Check

man installing roof gutter
Image by: Jasmine Sahin, Shutterstock

Clogs occur when debris from the roof or gutter gets stuck in the downspout opening. When this happens, rainwater reaches the brim of the gutters, overflows, and runs down the side of your house, which can compromise the foundation. All this can be avoided by inspecting your gutters and downspout often. Typically, you should clean your gutters at least twice or three times a year.

2. Trim Back Trees Near the House

man cutting tree branch
Image by: Piqsels

Most gutter blockages are caused by falling leaves, needles, and twigs. If your gutter is getting blocked often, you might want to trim trees and hedges near your house. This does not mean chopping down the entire tree/hedge; just cut any branches facing your roof. The nearest tree to your room should be a minimum of 8 feet away. You will notice a massive difference in the frequency with which your gutter gets clogged.

3. Install Rain Gutter Guards

Roll of plastic mesh guard over gutter on a roof
Image by: Suzanne Tucker, Shutterstock

Installing gutter guards is a great option to prevent any clogs from happening in the future. They can prevent debris from entering your gutters and clogging the downspout. There are plenty of gutter guards on the market to choose from depending on where you live, the type of gutter system you have, and the type of debris that commonly clogs your gutters.

Gutter guards do wonders at preventing clogs, saving you time, money, and energy that you’d have used in unclogging the gutters. The best gutter guards are those made of zinc, aluminum, copper, and steel. They will prevent debris from entering the gutters while maintaining water quality.

4. Install a Leaf Protection System

Gutter protector wideshot
Image by: William Hager, Shutterstock

Once you’ve cleaned your gutters, you need to consider installing a cover or cap on the entire run of the gutter system. This will prevent anything else from entering the gutters apart from rainwater. It will also prevent debris from contaminating your water. Covers on the gutter system also reduce the potential for airborne debris, including loose shingles and materials from the roof from getting in the gutters.

divider 4 Hire a Professional Gutter Cleaning Service

If you don’t want to take the risk of getting on the roof and removing the clog from the gutter on your own, you can always get a professional to do it. If you live in a neighborhood with many trees, you can get a good recommendation from your neighbors; chances are they have experienced the same problem. You can also look up ‘gutter services near me’’ and use the reviews to narrow down on the best professional gutter service.

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Keeping your gutter unclogged is vital to the general structure of your home. Ensure you carry out routine checks to ensure the water is not pooling there and creating a hazardous environment or contaminating your water.

Featured Image Credit: Rob Bayer, Shutterstock


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