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How to Clean Gutters with Leaf Guards

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dirty leaf guard

A gutter guard is an invaluable addition to your roof. Just as its name suggests, the guard protects your gutters from dirt accumulation. They also trap leaves and other debris and prevent them from getting inside the gutters.

When the leaves dry, they blow away, keeping your gutters, dirt-free. Furthermore, the guards allow rainwater to flow freely inside the gutters, which further removes the debris. However, even if you have the best gutters on the market, you’ll need to clean them at least twice a year.

Failure to do so may be problematic. Clogged gutters may cause not only roof damage but also flooding. Therefore, you need to use the right technique to clean gutters with leaf guards. Here’s how to go about it.

What You’ll Need

To effectively clean a gutter with leaf guards, you’re going to need a few items. These include:

  • Ladder
  • Drop cloth
  • Hose
  • Garden gloves
  • Protective glasses
  • Bucket

Spread a Drop Cloth under the Area You’re Cleaning

Gutters with guards ought to be cleaned at least twice every year. This means when it’s time to clean, you’ll have a lot of dirt and debris to take out of the gutters. Therefore, the clean up once you’re done can be quite the hassle, especially if you don’t do it right.

To ensure the cleaning process is as hassle-free as possible, start by placing a drop cloth at the bottom of the area you’re cleaning and ensure it’s well secured. The drop cloth will catch all the droppings from the roof, thereby saving you the need to pick up dirt from the ground when you’re done. Besides, the drop cloth protects any bushes or shrubs you may have on your property.

Position Your Ladder

Once you have placed the drop cloth and you’ve ensured it’s well secured in place, the next step is positioning your ladder. Since you’ll be climbing to the top and you’re probably going to be making a lot of movements, you need the ladder to be completely secure. To make sure of this, you can secure it with a rope onto a tree.

Alternatively, you can have someone hold onto the ladder until you’re done. This way, you’re guaranteed you won’t fall off. Even if you have the ladder secured with a rope, it’s advisable to have someone check on you in case of anything.

Wear Protective Gear and Get in Position

Before getting on the ladder, ensure it’s secure. If you’re confident the ladder will hold, wear your gloves and protective glasses. Next, climb the ladder with a bucket for removing the debris from the roof. Once you get to the top, place the bucket on the roof and proceed to the next step.

Remove Debris off the Guards

Removing debris from the guards is straightforward. All you have to do is to pick them by hand and place them in the bucket. You can also let smaller items fall onto the drop cloth at the bottom. If anything seems stuck, pull it out with minimal force and add it to the bucket waste as well.

Continue doing this until you’ve taken out everything from the guards. Doing so will make the next step so much easier. Furthermore, you need to ensure you don’t leave anything on the guards because doing so will only lead to faster dirt accumulation.

Take Out the Guards If Possible

Once you’ve taken out all the debris from the guards, the next step is removing the guards from the gutters. There are different types of gutter guards. Some are placed on the gutter without any attachment. Examples include gutter brushes and plastic mesh gutter guards.

Follow the steps below:

  • Take out the guard: If you have a gutter brush or plastic mesh cutter guards, all you need to do is gently take them out. However, if the guards have screws to secure them in place, you’ll have to unscrew to remove without damaging them.
  • Rinse to remove blockage: If you feel any blockage that’s preventing effortless removal, rinse the guards down before taking them out. Also, check for anything that may not have been rinsed out by rainwater that may be blocking the guard. Take it out or rinse it down before taking the guard out.
  • Keep the guards aside: After taking the guards out, place them on a safe area on top of the roof or hand them over to your helper.

Hose Down the Guards (For None-Removable Types)

If the gutter guards are not removable, you can skip the previous step and move on to hosing them down. You may need some help to do this. 

  • Ensure you have good balance and start hosing down the guards, making sure to remove all the accumulated dirt and debris stuck in the holes. 
  • The water should run freely through the gutter removing all the dirt you’re cleaning out.
  • If you removed the guards, all you’ll need to do is to hose down the gutter ensuring no dirt or debris is left behind when you’re done.

Replace and Secure the Guards

The last step is replacing the guards. Before you do so, ensure nothing is stuck on the guards that may prevent the free flow of water through the guards into the gutters. If everything looks okay, proceed to secure the guards in place. 

Worksite Cleanup

Once your gutters and guards are squeaky clean, take the bucket and slowly go down the ladder. Wrap all the droppings on the drop cloth by bringing the corners of the drop cloth together and pick any debris that may have fallen away from the cloth. Gather all the dirt and dispose of it. Lastly, take down your ladder. It’s that simple!

Alternative Ways of Cleaning Gutters with Guards

There are a plethora of ways to clean gutters with leaf guards. Whichever method you choose, the first thing you need to do is to check the state of the guards and gutters.  Check whether the gutters are clogged and what’s causing the blockage. Doing so will help you figure out the best method to use. Below are some of the alternative ways you clean your gutters.

Save Time with a Leaf Blower

If you’re in the habit of cleaning your gutters often, there’s a great chance you won’t have a lot of debris to remove when it’s time to clean. In such cases, a lead blower will do an excellent job of getting rid of all the dirt and leaves on your guards and gutters.Leaf blowers feature a nozzle attachment that’s designed to release a narrow stream of air that’s perfect for cleaning gutters.

Here’s how to go about it.

  • Place a drop cloth below your worksite: The cloth will collect all the droppings, making cleaning up after easier.
  • Position your ladder: You can tie it to a strong tree or have someone to hold it in place at the bottom while you’re cleaning.
  • Get in position: Take the leaf blower and climb to the top of the ladder.
  • Blow out debris off the guard: Use the leaf blower to remove all the leaves and debris that have accumulated on the guards.
  • Take the guards off:  If your gutter guards are removable, take them out and proceed to the next step.
  • Clean the gutters. Ensure your ladder is positioned in a manner that allows you to work towards the downspout. Afterward, blow the leaves gradually toward the downspout, making sure you don’t get any debris into it.
  • Hose the gutter down: If there’s still some dirt or debris that won’t come out after using the leaf blower, use a hose to get rid of the excess dirt.
  • Clean the guards: Hose down the guards to remove any remaining dirt and place them back into their position.
  • Clean your worksite: When you’re done cleaning, collect all the droppings on your worksite and wrap the ones on the drop cloth together as well. Finish off by taking down the ladder.

Note: If your guards are not removable, a leaf blower won’t work well when it comes to removing the dirt that’s clogged inside the gutters. However, if you don’t have guards, this method is perfect. You don’t even need a ladder. You can use a special attachment for the leaf blower that allows you to extend the blower to the gutters without climbing to the top.

Remove Stubborn Debris with a Wet/Dry Vacuum

Believe it or not, a wet/dry vacuum can also be used to clean gutters.  In fact, they’re perfect for removing stubborn debris stuck in the gutters. A wet/dry vacuum is even better if it comes with the special attachments that allow you to extend the reach from the ground to the gutters. With these attachments, you won’t even need a ladder or gloves.

You’ll also not need to clean up too much after you’re done. However, this only works if you have open gutters without leaf guards. If you have guards in place, you’ll need climb to the top to ensure a thorough clean. Here are the steps to flow.

  • Place a drop cloth below your worksite: The cloth will collect all the droppings, making cleaning up after easier.
  • Position your ladder: You can tie it to a strong tree or have someone to hold it in place at the bottom while you’re cleaning.
  • Get in position: Take the wet/dry vacuum and climb to the top of the ladder.
  • Vacuum: Using the dry vacuum feature, vacuum all the debris and leaves off the guards.
  • Take the guards off:  If your gutter guards are removable, take them out and proceed to the next step.
  • Clean the gutters. Ensure your ladder is positioned in a manner that allows you to work towards the downspout. Afterward, vacuum the leaves gradually toward the downspout, making sure you don’t get any debris into it. If there’s dirt that’s stuck onto the surface of the gutters, use the wet feature to moisten and loosen the dirt. 
  • Hose the gutter down: If there’s still some dirt or debris that won’t come out after using the vacuum, use a hose to get rid of the excess dirt.
  • Clean the guards: Hose down the guards to remove any remaining dirt and place them back into their position.
  • Clean your worksite: When you’re done cleaning, collect all the droppings on your worksite and wrap the ones on the drop cloth together as well. Finish off by taking down the ladder.

Unclog Gutters with a Pressure Washer

If it’s been a while since you last cleaned your gutters, you may need something stronger to unclog the gutters and get rid of all the dirt. The best way to clean clogged gutters is to use a pressure washer. Because this appliance features a fine-spray nozzle, it will loosen even the toughest of clogs. 

However be prepared to do a lot of cleaning afterwards. Cleaning gutters using a pressure washer is quite messy. The dirt will not only spread to your roof but also nearby walls. To clean your gutters using a pressure washer, follow the steps below:

  • Place a drop cloth below your worksite: The cloth will collect all the droppings, making cleaning up after easier.
  • Position your ladder: You can tie it to a strong tree or have someone to hold it in place at the bottom while you’re cleaning.
  • Get in position: Take the pressure washer and climb to the top of the ladder.
  • Clean out debris off the guard: In most cases, dirt clogs inside the gutters and not the guard. If this is the case, you can remove all the surface dirt on the guards using your hands. Just make sure you have your gloves on while doing this.
  • Take the guards off:  If your gutter guards are removable, take them out and proceed to the next step.
  • Clean the gutters. Ensure your ladder is positioned in a manner that allows you to work towards the downspout. Afterward, turn the pressure washer on and clean out any leaves and debris inside the gutters. Pay close attention to the downspout. If it’s clogged, a pressure washer is perfect for unclogging it. To unclog the downspout, point the nozzle towards the hose and rinse it out until water can flow easily without interruption.
  • Clean the guards: Hose down the guards to remove any remaining dirt and place them back into their position.
  • Clean your worksite: When you’re done cleaning, rinse the roof and walls that may have gotten dirty during the cleaning process. Next, collect all the droppings on your worksite and wrap the ones on the drop cloth together as well. Finish off by taking down the ladder.

Clean Clogged Gutters by Hand

If your gutters are clogged, and you don’t have a pressure washer, it’s possible to do it by hand as well.  For this approach, you’ll need a gutter scoop, bucket, hose and heavy-duty gloves. Once you have everything ready, do the following:

  • Place a drop cloth below your worksite: The cloth will collect all the droppings, making cleaning up after easier.
  • Position your ladder: You can tie it to a strong tree or have someone to hold it in place at the bottom while you’re cleaning.
  • Get in position: Wear your gloves, take the bucket and hose, and climb to the top of the ladder.
  • Remove all the debris and leaves from the guards: Use your hands to pick all the leaves and dirt and place them in the bucket.
  • Take the guards off:  If your gutter guards are removable, take them out, rinse them, put them aside and proceed to the next step.
  • Clean the gutters. Use the gutter scoop to remove dirt, leaves, and any other debris from the gutters until it’s clean. If anything is stuck, use a garden hose to moisten it and go in with the gutter scoop to loosen it, making sure to place all the dirt in the bucket.
  • Clean the downspout: If the downspout is clogged, use a plumber’s snake to blast through the obstruction, then rinse the downspout until waster flows easily without interruption.
  • Clean your worksite: When you’re done cleaning, put the guards back and collect all the droppings on your worksite. Wrap the ones on the drop clothes together as well. Finish off by taking down the ladder.

Gather Your Supplies

There you have it; a comprehensive guide on how to clean gutters with leaf guards. You can also visit our article were we go over some of the best reviewed gutter guards on the market. As you have seen, there are many ways to do it. You can do it by hand or using a pressure washer, leaf blower, or wet/dry vacuum.

The best method for you will depend on the state of your gutter. If it’s clogged, a pressure washer will go a long way in unclogging all obstructions.

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Jena Slocum Co-Founder

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