Yard Work 104: Gutter Cleaning

Gutter cleaning is an essential part of home upkeep that busy clients may overlook. When tasking in the Yard Work category, it can be a great way to go above and beyond, upsell your services as a Tasker, and grow your business. 

Home Depot recommends that gutters be cleaned twice per year, because — when functioning properly — gutters help protect the following areas of a house:

  • Roof
  • Walls
  • Foundation
  • Landscape

The company also suggests an assortment of tools for gutter cleaning — some that are common and some that might surprise you — along with a plan of attack. 

Tools

Extension or step ladder (with optional stabilizer). Safety is key, so be sure to set up your ladder on secure, level ground. Consider using a stabilizer for those extra challenging situations. Most Taskers recommend a 10-foot ladder or taller. 

Two buckets (and wire hooks). You can use one bucket for collecting waste debris and one to store your tools. Consider hooking the buckets to your ladder for easy access!

Trowel or gutter scoop. While you’ll want to clear much of the large gutter debris by hand, a scooping tool will let you capture the smaller or muddier bits of debris. 

Garden hose and spray nozzle. Apart from needing these tools to rinse out gutter tracks and downspouts, you may need to feed a hose up a downspout to break up debris clogs. 

Drills and bits. These tools will be essential if you need to adjust the tilt angle of the gutter or re-secure points where it connects to the house.

Heavy bristle brush. These can be great for scraping out heavy buildup and sludge during your final cleaning pass.

Work and latex gloves. Don’t forget to keep your hands dry, clean, and protected. 

Gutter hardware. It’s always best to have some basics with you — including gutter hangers, if they need replacing. These are typically installed every two feet with large screws, which should be included with hangers. 

Gutter sealant. You can repair gutters with this if you see any damage or leaks. 

Pressure washer. Use this to spray down the outside of the gutters for a final clean. 

Plumber snake. Use this optional tool for hefty clogs that the hose and pressure nozzle can’t handle. 

Gutter guards. Again, this is optional, but if a client either doesn’t have a gutter guard where needed or requires a new one, this is a great way to show why you’re the best Tasker for the job.

Garbage bags. You’ll have a lot of debris to throw away!

Rubber soled shoes. No one likes tasking with wet feet, so consider how best to keep your shoes dry when you’re running that hose.

Sunscreen. This might be obvious, but it can be easy to forget! You’ll be tasking out in the elements, so come prepared.

Bug spray. Some of the wet gutter debris can attract mosquitoes or other insects. Get a leg up on them so they leave you alone. 

A cold beverage. This can be physical work. Hydration is important.

Safety

As mentioned above, a very important aspect of gutter cleaning to consider before your task is safety. You’ll likely be on a ladder or even on a roof, which comes with inherent risks. Take extra precautions while securing your ladder, and make sure you’re comfortable with all necessary aspects of the task before starting.

The Gutter Clean

Once you have all your tools and supplies ready, it’s time to get started! According to Taskers who excel in this category, you’ll want to consider performing gutter cleans in the following order:

1. Begin near a downspout and work away from it. 

  • Position your ladder securely on the ground before climbing, and clear large debris (like leaves and twigs) by hand.
  • Use a trowel or gutter scoop to clear compacted debris. 
  • Remove and clean the downspout screen.
  • Continue cleaning along the gutter length using a trowel and brush as needed to clear debris and buildup.
  • Use your hose and pressure nozzle to flush the gutter with water.

2. Check the downspout for clogs. 

  • After all debris is gone, flush the downspout with water.
  • If the downspout backs up or if you’re spraying in more water than the amount coming out the bottom, there may be a clog.
  • To unclog, remove the pressure nozzle and feed the hose up the bottom of the downspout. Run the water at full force and try to break up whatever debris is causing the clog.
  • In complicated situations, try using a plumbing snake to break up the clog before flushing the downspout with water again.
  • Replace the downspout screen. 

3. Flush the gutters again and check for pooling water.

  • Pooling water means the gutter isn’t properly sloped. In these cases, extra dirt and mildew can gather — something your client will likely want removed.
  • To adjust the gutter’s slope, use your drill to detach the metal hangers, then slant the gutter properly to adjust the run. When this is complete, reattach the gutter.
  • To finish, flush the gutter with water again, and be sure to check for new leaks or damage.  

4. Add that final touch.

  • As a final step, use your power washer to wash the outside of the gutters — make them shine by removing dirt and buildup. 
  • While you’re at it, you can do one final damage check on all the gutters and downspouts to make sure they’re ready to tackle another season.

As you can see, gutter cleaning requires more than just basic Yard Work knowledge. It’s a skill that can be both lucrative and enjoyable, especially on those days you’re craving fresh air and the ability to work on your feet. 

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