One-Day Project: Clean Your Gutters

This biannual ritual will help keep your house functioning smoothly.
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One of the best maintenance jobs you can do for your old house is to clean out the gutters. Clogged gutters can cause myriad problems, including leaks inside the house. Keep your gutter system running smoothly by removing leaves and dirt twice a year (more often if you have heavy tree cover/leaves).

Remove debris from gutters

Remove debris from gutters.

Step 1

Use a four-legged aluminum ladder for a one-story home or an aluminum extension ladder for a two-story one; position it on the house about an arm’s length away from the gutter downspout, and make sure it is sitting securely (see oldhouseonline.com/ladder-safety for more tips). Rest a five-gallon bucket for debris collection on the ladder’s shelf, and wear gloves and safety glasses. Using a plastic gutter scoop (metal trowels can damage gutters), remove debris and drop it into the bucket. If there is a lot of detritus sitting on the roof, you may want to rake it off as you work on the gutters.

Step 2

After a section of the debris is cleared, rinse out the gutters with a garden hose fitted with an adjustable nozzle, or an extended reach hose. If the downspout is clogged, run the hose into it at full pressure to dislodge the debris; you also can tap on the sides of the downspout to help shake out the clog. If it remains, feed a plumbing snake down from the top of downspout to remove the clog. Once you are done and the gutters are clean, inspect for any loose or damaged parts so you can catch a problem before it starts.

Rinse gutters

Rinse gutters.

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