Why is clearing gutters so important?

The gutters in your home help protect its structure by channelling rainwater away into the drains. If they’re left unattended, material can build up and cause blockages that prevent your home’s waterproofing systems from working as well as they should.

A few leaves may not seem like much of an issue. But if they – or moss, weeds, broken twigs or other dirt and debris – are allowed to accumulate it can start to cause real problems.

What are the signs of blocked or damaged gutters?

Some indicators of gutter blockages or damage include:

  • Water leaking or overflowing from the gutter after it’s been raining
  • Water staining your property’s exterior walls below the guttering
  • Leaves or moss in your gutters – check from an upstairs window
  • Birds collecting material from – or nesting in – your gutters
  • Sagging – debris and pooled water can weigh guttering down and break its joints or brackets
  • Plant growth – if there’s enough soil for them to take root it may be blocking your gutter

Consider replacing any broken, sagging or rusted sections of guttering.

Clearing your gutters

How often should gutters be cleared?

Try to check your gutters at least twice a year, clearing and repairing them as necessary. Inspect them at the start of winter, when the leaves have stopped falling but before the first frosts. Then check again at the end of spring, in case seeds or pollen have built up and could set root.

If you experience particularly bad spells of weather that could have created more debris than usual, such as snowfall or storms, it’s worth checking gutters more often. The same applies if you have a lot of trees around your property that could pose an increased risk of debris and clogging.

How do I clear my gutters?

How to clear your gutters depends on the number of storeys your property has, your confidence working at heights on ladders, and the tools available to you.

How do I clear gutters from the ground?

If it’s possible to clear your gutters from the ground, you’re likely to need a pressure washer on an extendable (or telescopic) washer pole. Use it to work gradually from one end of the guttering to the other, pushing dirt and debris along and over the edge. Then just sweep it together using an outdoor broom. If you can, use a ladder to check the gutter is fully clear.

How do I clear gutters using a ladder?

If you’re using a ladder, make sure it’s strong, extendable, secure against the wall and both feet are on stable ground before climbing it. Ask someone to stand at the bottom to keep it in place as you climb and work at the top. Wear safety goggles, gardening gloves and shoes with good grip.

A ladder with a ‘stay’ or ‘stand-off’ fitted will lift it away from the wall so you can see and work above the gutter line more easily. Move your ladder as often as necessary to avoid overreaching, and don’t ever climb onto the roof.

Using a suitable handheld tool, gradually work from one end of the guttering to the other to remove debris. Collect the pieces in a bucket as you go. Then use a pressure washer or a bucket of water to clear away any excess.

When should I call in professionals to clean my home’s gutters?

If it’s been a long time since your gutters were cleared or you’re not confident working at heights, ask a professional company to do it for you. Request a price upfront, remembering the work may uncover the need for repairs that cost extra. And get written, dated and ideally photographic proof of any work carried out, to support any home insurance claim you may need to make later.