How to clear out your gutters in autumn

Guttering is rarely given a lot of thought, but it plays a big part in keeping your rooftops, windows, siding, doors and foundations in good condition and safe from water damage. When it rains, the large surface area of your roof collects a lot of water which must be drained away.

If your gutters are clogged with debris, they cannot drain effectively. Clogged gutters will fill with rainwater, overflowing or freezing in bad weather, and causing damage to the exterior of your house. Clearing out your gutters in autumn ensures that they will protect your house from bad weather through winter.

When is the best time to clear the gutters?

It’s best to wait until mid to late autumn before clearing out the gutters, once most of the leaves have fallen. Stay safe, and choose a bright, clear day with little to no wind. It isn’t safe to work from height in windy weather, and rain will make for slippery ladder rungs and guttering.

You will need

  • Step ladder or an extension ladder
  • Pair of gloves
  • Small gardening trowel
  • Bucket
  • Rake
  • Hose
  • Plumbers auger (snake)
  • Brush

The step-by-step guide to gutter clearing

  • Secure your ladder

Ensure that you lean your ladder safely against the wall or another sturdy surface. Never lean it against your windows as they could smash and cause injury. If you’re leaning the ladder against the gutter, place a sturdy plank of wood inside to prevent the guttering from bending to the pressure of the ladder. Place the feet on flat ground, using a doormat for extra grip if you need to.

  • Rooftop leaves

Before you begin to clear out your gutters, rake any leaves or other debris already on the roof down into the gutters. If you’re clearing the conservatory gutters, use a brush rather than a rake to protect the glass roof from damage.

  • Start from the top

Begin by clearing the debris from the highest gutter, and work your way down to the lowest. This way you won’t accidentally push more debris into the gutters you’ve already cleaned.

  • Removing debris

Starting at the drain outlet, use your hands or the trowel to collect any leaves, dirt, moss or other grime from the guttering. You can toss this to the floor to clear up later, or place it straight in the bucket for quick disposal.

  • Hose down

Wash out each length of gutter as you go, to ensure that it’s draining effectively and to remove any last bits of dirt.

  • Check for damage

While you’re up there, check the guttering and roofing for any signs of damage. Cracks, peeling paint, rust, loose screws and other signs of wear and tear can be seen to quickly and will prolong the life of your gutters even further.

  • Clear obstructions from drainpipes

When you hose the gutter down, you will be able to tell if there are any obstructions in the drainpipes. Flushing the debris down with a hose might work, but if not pushing a plumber’s auger up or down the drain will let you pull out the obstruction.