From Spotlight: Think Your Spring Cleaning is Done? Maybe Not.

How to Clean Rain Gutters

Clean gutters to protect your siding and landscape plantings, and prevent thousands of dollars of damage to your foundation.

torrential rain overflowing clogged gutters pour water along house siding into foundation cause damage
Image: Willowpix/Getty

In a downpour, a clogged roof gutter sends water cascading down the side of your house, making canyons of your flowerbeds and saturating your foundation.

Clean gutters of leaves and debris to avoid damaging your landscaping and siding, and to head off expensive water damage repairs to your foundation, which can cost $500 to $20,000.

Related: How to Prevent Water Damage

How Often Should You Clean Gutters?

Clean gutters at least once a year -- twice a year if you have overhanging trees. Also, clean clogged gutters after big storms. Clogs often occur where downspouts join the gutter system; check these areas closely.

How to Clean Gutters

  • Wear a shirt with long sleeves. Wear rubber gloves.
  • Have a good extendable ladder available. Standoff stabilizers (ladder “horns”) are ideal to keep the ladder from damaging the gutter.
  • Use a small plastic scoop to remove gunk. Buy a gutter scoop from the hardware store ($12) or try a child’s sand shovel.
  • Spare your lawn by dumping the stuff onto a plastic tarp.
  • After you’ve cleared the muck, flush the gutters and downspouts with a garden hose -- also a great way to spot any leaks.

How Much Does It Cost to Pay Someone to Clean Gutters?

If climbing ladders isn't your cup of tea, you can hire someone to do the job for $75 to $380, depending on the size and height of your house.

Should You Try Gutter Covers?

Interested in an ounce of prevention? You can slow clogging by installing gutter covers in the form of mesh screens, clip-on grates, or porous foam. However, covers can cost more than the gutters themselves, and they need regular maintenance to keep them clear. Expect to pay 50 cents to $20 per linear foot for gutter covers, depending on the brand and type of guard.


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Pat Curry

Pat Curry is a former senior editor at "Builder," the official magazine of the National Association of Home Builders, and a frequent contributor to real estate and home-building publications.