Ahhh autumn time, the leaves are changing colors, it is getting cooler, and the Holidays are just around the corner. While that all sounds nice, the flip side is – it’s cold, the leaves are everywhere including in the gutters which I just cleaned out last month, it’s about to rain, and we still need to get all this stuff for the party.
Well, how about a quick tip for getting those gutters cleaned out in about 10 minutes flat that doesn’t involve a ladder at all? Seeing that I am in the Holiday mood already, let’s make it two quick, easy & safe ways to clean out your gutters.
A few quick words; these methods should not be used in lieu of doing at least one full gutter cleaning and inspection a year. We actually recommend doing a full cleaning and inspection at least twice a year in March & September. As always, please stay safe; if you feel uncomfortable, do not understand how to complete a task, etc… please call in a professional.
The Leaf Blower Method(s)
First, let’s start with a leaf blower – many companies now offer an attachment that connects to the leaf blower specifically made for cleaning gutters.
Here is one example of a kit for a popular leaf blower. This one is by Poulan Pro, costs about $30 and fits numerous leaf blowers. As you can see it comes with numerous straight tubes, a 90-degree corner to redirect the air up, a U shaped piece for directing the airflow into the gutter, and most importantly a set of safety glasses. I admit the glasses look pretty ugly, but they need to be worn, nothing can ruin your day quicker than getting something stuck in your eye, scratching it or losing it.
Using it is pretty simple, first you put your glasses on, you add all the straight pipe you need to the U-shaped attachment, attach it to your leaf blower and you take a quick walk around the house blowing all those leaves & sticks out of your gutters. Once done, you can quickly blow your driveway & sidewalks off and your ready for all those guests. One quick trick I like to use is before making that connection I will go to each downspout & blow the air directly up it. This helps blow out any sticks or leaves that might have been stuck. I also recommend if you are doing this on a windy day, make sure that the wind is blowing in from your back & blow the leaves out in front of you.
Ok, so what happens if you do not have the time to go run and get this, not enough cash, or your local hardware store just ran out? I have seen plenty of people make their own homemade versions, by using 3″ PVC pipe & two elbows, or in some cases using a shop vac’s hose and attaching it to the discharge pipe.
If you do have a shop vac, may I recommend that you avoid ruining the hose & using the blower part on your vacuum instead? If you have swimming pole hook, simply zip tie or tape the hose to the hook. If not I suggest getting two plumbing elbows or a U-bend that will fit your house, attaching them to the end & taping the hose to a broom handle or something similar. One other trick is to use a piece of all-thread, bending the top portion over a 180 degrees and taping, zip tie it, or run it in the hose.
The Garden Hose Method
First, I do not suggest using this method during the next few months, and for most of us, we have already put our hoses up for the winter. However, come springtime, it can be used to help clean the gunk (dirt, asphalt granules, etc…) that may have collected. I learned about and used this method numerous times in Arizona, when we used to get some real bad dust storms that came through. Just like the last shop vac tip above, grab a piece of all thread, bend the top portion over a 180 degrees and taping or zip tie it to the hose. Turn the hose on about half way and simply wash all the gunk down the downspout. While the water is running, make sure that there are no leaks at the seams or in any other area’s that might need attention.