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The ultimate guide to gutter maintenance

Whether you’re working on a new build or an old house with character features, it must be properly waterproofed. An essential part of this responsibility is the gutters — a seemingly simple fixture that can be taken for granted.

Gutter maintenance and cleaning professionals will emphasise the importance of regular gutter checks and debris removal. To do this, they need to be armed with expert knowledge and the best gutter-cleaning tools.

Why gutter cleaning is important

Gutters are designed to protect homes by swiftly removing water following bouts of heavy rain and thunderstorms. The most common issue that gutter cleaning and maintenance professionals deal with clogged gutters.

As soon as gutters become clogged with dirt, leaves, and twigs, the water gathers with nowhere to go, other than over the edge of the trough. This overflow can cause expensive damage to the interior and exterior of a property, including roof leaks and cracking a home’s foundation.
Clogged gutters can also be a nesting ground for birds, insects, and rodents, so neglecting gutter maintenance could result in a callout from pest control!

Keep an eye out for broken gutters and subsequent leaks, particularly after a strong storm. If water seeps into a home, it can cause mould growth and mildew, eventually causing the wood to rot and weakening the foundations.

What does gutter cleaning include

What does gutter cleaning include?

Working at height is certainly not something to be taken on lightly as it brings serious risks with it – and gutter cleaning is dirty work that requires robust safety measures. Professional gutter cleaners should have the experience to work safely at any given height and deal with other potential risks such as electrical wires and vermin. 

A thorough gutter cleaning job includes sweeping the roof and removing debris from the inside of the gutters and downpipes. A pressure washer can also be used to break up clogs in the drain.

Cleaning gutter fascias and soffits along with the gutter cleaning will improve the overall look of a property — whether restoring grubby-looking white gutters to their former glory or bringing faded black guttering back to life. Environmentally-safe and biodegradable products are available as an option for this.

The biggest advantage a gutter expert can bring to a property is their ability to identify and diagnose gutter problems that can lead to costly damage. Whether it’s a crack or wear and tear, a specialist should spot the issue and a repair will help extend the life of a property’s gutters and overall structure.

How often should gutters be cleaned

How often should gutters be cleaned?

Many experts recommend gutters are cleaned twice a year — once at the beginning of spring and then again after the autumnal leaf drop. Don’t wait until the freezing temperatures come — standing waters in gutters will freeze, which will warp and potentially damage the gutters.

Another factor to consider is the location of a property. If trees surround it, leaves are more likely to end up on the roof. It’s also smart to have regular cleans if the property is in an area that tends to see longer periods of heavy rain 

How to price a gutter job

How to price a gutter cleaning job

According to Checkatrade, the average hourly rate for gutter cleaning in the UK is £18 to £25 per hour. However, factors such as the job’s complexity, the tools required, and the size of the house will inevitably come into play. Scaffolding is sometimes required for the job, which will also impact the price charged.

 Top tips for gutter cleaning and maintenance

  • Check for loose electrical wires near the roof or unexplained nails that could compromise your safety.
  • Take pictures before and after you’ve delivered your gutter cleaning service, so your client has a good insight into the work you’ve done.
  • As you will often encounter mould and dirty debris when cleaning gutters, remember always to wear PPE, such as eye protection, a face mask, gloves, and long-sleeve clothing.
  • Pop the rubbish in a bag or bin as you work to keep the job as hassle-free as possible.
  • Once you’ve cleaned the gutters and downpipes, check the water is flowing freely and is free of waste. Look out for any leaks.

Should I repair or replace the gutters?

Repairing gutter leaks or spending money on replacement guttering can often be a dilemma. Nature can take its toll on gutters over time, so it’s worth assessing the whole system before making a decision. All circumstances are different, but replacement guttering should only be advised in extreme circumstances.

If the gutters are riddled with cracks, it’s best to replace the entire guttering system. Mould on the roof or in the upper rooms of a home also points to external gutter issues that will get worse over time, so your best bet is to plot replacements.

Install new gutters as quickly as possible to ensure water flows where it’s supposed to. Look for quality, weatherproof PVC guttering that’s durable and easy to cut and join.

Sagging gutters is another issue that can rarely be solved through a quick repair. This usually indicates that the brackets have become loose or wrongly positioned, so check the condition of the brackets. If the screw has simply come loose, insert as suitable wall plug and re-screw the bracket securely. If it’s been incorrectly positioned, fill the hole in the wall and refix it.

If the guttering still sags, you will need to buy replacements to support it and provide a solid, watertight joint. Brackets can easily break depending on their construction, so opt for robust PVC-U brackets that are resistant to physical impacts.

Damage to the gutter confined to one or two sections can easily be repaired by washing it with alcohol and coating with a quality sealant. Larger cracks should be tackled with a small piece of metal flashing that can be glued or riveted on before sealing it.

Use a drill to screw any loose hangers (or make a fresh hole in the gutter or fascia). You may need to source new hangers if the existing ones are bent.

Fastest way to clean a gutter

What is the fastest way to clean gutters?

It’s almost a given that a gutter cleaning professional will do the job much quicker and more efficiently than an average homeowner. Perhaps the most straightforward method is with a telescopic gutter cleaner, meaning you can clean house gutters from the ground. Of course, the main drawback is being unable to see what’s left behind in the gutter.

what to check gutters for

What to check for when cleaning gutters

There are many tell-tale signs that a gutter needs cleaning, such as plant growth or damaged brickwork, but inspecting the gutters after you’ve cleaned them is good practice. Look for any signs of leaks and inspect the gutter joints. If water is escaping through the joints or the holes are tiny, consider applying a durable and highly waterproof sealant and caulking the joints.

How to clean a gutter without a ladder

How to clean gutters without a ladder

Clearing downpipes is traditionally only possible with a ladder, but a telescopic gutter cleaner can be operated from ground level. They are designed to be lightweight and easy to use, and there are even telescopic gutter cleaners with specially designed heads that you can slide along the gutter to gather debris.

Best gutter cleaning tools

To perform gutter cleaning efficiently, quickly, and safely, you need to choose an appropriate ladder. An extendable ladder is ideal for a two-storey home, ideally with a ladder stand off for improved safety and access when using a power tool. Many homeowners choose to leave this to a pro, as working at height isn’t something to take on lightly.

Cleaning gutters on a three-storey property should be approached from the safety of the ground. You’ll need a hot water pressure washer as it provides a better clean and finish than cold water. As a general rule, the more pressure, the better.

The critical factor is the length of the pipe/hose that you connect to it. A garden hose can also do the trick, depending on the house size. You need to be able to send the surge of water down the gutters or drains to force out any dirt and debris, but be aware this will create more mess.

Some waste is easier to remove with a trowel, a small plastic scoop, or even by hand. Don’t forget your pair of waterproof gloves for this part — scoop the waste matter towards you in a heap and then lift it out into your bag or bucket. A wire brush can also help loosen stubborn spots.

Wiping the interior and exterior of the gutter will completely clear them and  improve the appearance of the gutter, so it’s handy to have a pack of multi-purpose cleaning wipes nearby.

What is the best way to keep gutters clean?

Prevention is better than cure when it comes to gutter cleaning, so advise your customers to have their gutters cleaned at least twice a year. Installing gutter guards can help keep them in good condition by stopping falling materials landing inside them. These guards are made from stainless steel and typically feature metal or plastic mesh netting that acts as a filter for the gutters.

Inform your customers of what to look for that suggests they need a gutter clean (water overflowing, signs of staining and mildew, etc.), and highlight the importance of proper care and maintenance.

If you provide gutter cleaning services and would like to find out more about our gutter cleaning and maintenance products, please contact us.

The information on this website is intended to be for general guidance – however every project is different which could affect the suitability for your particular project or circumstances. References to a product, service or material should not be considered a recommendation or any indication of fitness for any specific purpose. Where applicable work must be carried out by a qualified professional. Seek appropriate specialist advice if needed and always follow manufacturer’s instructions advice and ensure compliance with any applicable laws or regulations.

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