Why Gutter Cleaning Is Important

By Amanda Lutz Updated May 2, 2024

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Gutters collect rainwater from your roof, funnel it away from your property, and prevent water from damaging your home. But without regular cleaning, leaves and other debris can settle into the gutters and form clogs. When water can’t pass through your gutter system, it pools and backs up, making your home vulnerable to water damage. Read our guide to learn how to properly clean your gutters and why gutter cleaning is such an important part of keeping your home safe. 

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Importance of Gutter Cleaning

Gutters guide rainwater off your roof, through downspouts, and away from your home. This protects your home’s roof, fascia, exterior, trim, and foundation from the effects of pooling water. When gutters are clogged, rainwater gets trapped in the gutter and weighs down your gutter system

Water pooling on your roof can rot your shingles and eventually damage your roof’s structural integrity. It can also pull gutters away from your home. Rainwater will eventually slide down your exterior walls and cause mold, mildew, peeling paint, and rot. 

If your gutters remain clogged, your downspouts can’t carry rain away from your home’s foundation, and excess water on the ground will cause soil shifting, sinking, and erosion that can strain your home’s foundation. Damage can include wet basements, warped doors, and even cracks in your wall. 


When to Clean Your Gutters

You should clean your gutters at least once a year, ideally in late fall, after leaves have fallen from the trees. Debris that remains in gutters during winter can cause standing water to freeze, leading to swelling and cracked gutters. Cleaning gutters again in the spring allows you to check for any damage your gutters may have incurred during winter months. You may need to clean your gutters as frequently as every three months if leafy or deciduous trees surround you. 

Watch for the following warning signs of clogged gutters:


How to Clean Gutters

Many people hire professionals to clean gutters. If you’re comfortable working from a ladder, you can clean gutters yourself.  

Gather the Necessary Tools

Make sure you have all the tools you’ll need to complete the job before you climb your ladder. Call a helper, and use a bucket on a pulley system to move tools to the roof.

Protect Your Surroundings

Spread a tarp underneath your downspout to collect all the gunk your gutters release. This step will protect your lawn and landscaping and eliminate the cleanup work after you’ve finished the job. 

Secure Stable Ladder Placement

Use a step ladder on solid, level ground to clean your gutters. Use a ladder stabilizer if you need to climb an extension ladder, or call a friend or family member to help keep the ladder in place. Climb the ladder once it’s secured. Secure your tool bucket to one side and the debris bucket to the other.

Clear Debris

Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from bits of dried leaves, and wear gloves to protect your hands from sharp objects. Remove clumps of leaves and other debris with a gutter scoop or trowel. Remove larger sticks and branches by hand. If you have gutter guards, clear debris from the tops of screens, then remove the guards to clean debris in the gutter.

Flush the Gutters

Use your garden hose with an attached spray nozzle to flush the gutter. Direct water toward the downspout. Use a strong stream of water to push debris along, and avoid spraying beneath the shingles as you work. 

Check the Downspouts

Once you’ve flushed away all remaining debris, spray water down the downspout, and check for clogs. If the water flows freely, your gutter is clean. If water isn’t passing through successfully, use a higher pressure setting on your hose. Break up clogs that remain with a plumber’s snake. 


Safety Considerations

Keep safety in mind any time you work on a roof. Make sure you’ve safely secured any ladder you use, and don’t overextend your reach while you’re on it. Also, keep your distance from power lines while working, as they can be electrocution hazards. 

You must also protect yourself from the materials in your gutter. Wear gloves to protect your hands from sharp twigs, thorns, and other windblown debris. Use properly fitting safety glasses to protect your eyes from dislodged, airborne debris.


Tools and Materials Needed

Having the right tools on hand will make cleaning your gutters safe and easy. Make sure you have the supplies included below. 


Hiring a Professional

Gutter cleaning is messy, physically demanding, and dangerous. If you’re not sure that you can complete the job safely, consider hiring a professional 

The average cost to hire a professional to clean your gutters is $207, but the price can range from less than $100 to more than $400. Your gutter height, length, and any additional services your project requires will add to the total bill. For example, having your downspout cleaned can cost an additional $50 to $100. 

*Cost data in this article sourced from Angi, HomeAdvisor, and Fixr.


Preventing Clogged Gutters

Follow the steps below to prevent clogged gutters and reduce the need for general maintenance.


Our Recommendation

Your gutters are only effective when they’re clean. You must keep up with routine gutter maintenance to extend the life span of your gutters and prevent the need for expensive repairs to your home. You can clean your gutters yourself with DIY methods if you’re comfortable working from a ladder, but you should hire professional gutter cleaning services if you’re unsure of your abilities or are afraid of heights. Either way, the cost of cleaning your gutters is much more manageable than the costly repairs you’ll encounter if gutters incur damage.


Why Gutter Cleaning is Important FAQ

Why is it important to clean your guttering regularly?

It’s important to clean your gutters regularly to keep them working properly and to prevent debris buildup. This can lead to water pooling and damage to your home.

What happens if you don’t clean the gutters?

If you don’t clean the gutters, leaves and debris will begin to clog them. Water pools inside clogged gutters and backs up toward your home.

Is gutter cleaning essential?

Regular gutter cleaning is essential to avoid clogs, gutter corrosion, and costly water damage to your home. You can clean gutters yourself or invest in professional gutter cleaning.

What is the effect of dirty gutters?

The effects of dirty gutters are pest infestations, puddles that take shape around your home and yard, and costly structural damage to your home. Clogged gutters can cause roof damage, leaks inside your home, basement flooding, and foundation damage.

How often should gutters be cleaned?

Gutters should be cleaned at least once per year. Inspect your gutters any time they stop working properly after rainfall.