Texas Living

Check Cleaning Your Gutters Off Your List

By Valirie Morgan 10.10.16

Fall is one time when your mind should be in the gutter — your home’s rain gutters, that is! You should tackle cleaning out your gutters at least twice a year, but it’s especially important in the fall, when the buildup of leaves and other debris can clog gutters and downspouts. Ignoring blockages can lead to foundation damage, roof leaks, and rotten fascia boards. 

“Particularly if, like me, you have a lot of trees on your property, you really need to take a close look at your gutters every fall and spring,” says Paula Sears, a Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent in Weatherford. “We remind our clients to keep up with their routine home maintenance because the problems created by ignoring chores like that might not be covered on your policy.”

Head off water and structural damage with this guide to keeping your rain gutters clean and problem-free all season long. 

Gutter Troubles

Such issues can range from minor to monumental. At best, leaf- and twig-filled gutters look unkempt. Pooling water in gutters often attracts mosquitoes, termites, carpenter ants, and other insects. On the more serious end of the spectrum, accumulated debris can cause the gutter to tear way from the roof, damaging the soffit, roof, or fascia — plus possibly allowing water to leak into your home.

And that’s not taking into account any damage to your landscaping or home’s foundation that can result. Truly catastrophic possibilities include increased wildfire risk (thanks to the dried leaves) in summer or ice dams in winter.

Luckily, carving out an hour or so every fall and spring can save you from these problems. 

Ladder Safety

It’s important that you climb up to your roof safely and carefully. If you’re afraid of heights or don’t feel comfortable climbing a ladder, consider hiring a professional to take care of the job. You can also ask a family member or friend to spot you, and follow these safety measures:

  • Make sure the area under and around your gutters is clear. 
  • Set up a sturdy ladder safely and on level ground.
  • Don’t lean the ladder against the gutters. They are not stable enough to support a person’s weight; and you could damage your home’s façade.
  • Stop climbing before the last three rungs and don’t reach past the side rail. 

Tackle the Job

  • Gear up. Wear thick work gloves and safety glasses. You’ll also want a trowel or plastic scoop, a lightweight plastic bucket or trash bags to clear debris into, and a hose – and maybe a straightened-out clothes hanger to clear blockages. 
  • Dig in. Start by using your hands, trowel, or scoop to remove leaves and debris from the gutters. You may need to scrape some dirt off as well. 
  • Add water. Unclog downspouts and clear blockages by using your hose to spray water through them. Always use low pressure, as your downspouts are not built for high-pressure water flow. If you find a blockage that the water can’t clear, you can use a long, thin, straight item (like the straightened-out clothes hanger) to dislodge it.
  • Rinse and repeat. When you’ve cleared all the debris, spray water through all your gutters and downspouts. This helps clean out stubborn dirt along with anything you might have missed.

Tackling home maintenance projects? Try your hand at a dream tree house for your kids, or learn how to effectively declutter your home. 

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. © 2016 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance