Unless it’s the natural aging process, gutters rarely get dirty on the outside. However, Gutters can sometimes trap leaves and other items which can eventually lead to clogging resulting in water and dirt falling to the gutter exteriors. Over time, the dirt builds up and the moist surface can attract moss and mold. If left unattended, dirty gutters can easily get damaged leading to the destruction of the whole roof and even the walls of the house. As such, routinely checking and cleaning the gutters is important for the integrity of the whole house.
To clean your gutter’s exterior, first, have the appropriate safety measures in place, clear any debris stuck in the gutters, spray the gutter sides with the right cleaning solution, use a brush to scrub then rinse. Without a ladder, you can clean the gutters from the ground level by using a power washer or telescoping cleaning tools.
The following is a list of some of the items you need.
- Garden hose
- Scrub brush (hand-held or with a long handle)
- Safety Gear-Goggles, protective clothing, rubber gloves, hard hat(helmet), roof shoes, etc.
- DIY/Store-bought Cleaning solution
- Extension Pole/Wand
- Pressure washer
- Power washer
- Gutter cleaning Ladder
You should then follow the steps below:
1. Protect yourself and the Surrounding
First, you need to protect yourself by putting on gloves, goggles, roof shoes, and protective clothing. Given that you’ll be dealing with objects above your head, you may need to put on a hard hat to protect your head when objects accidentally fall on you. When using a ladder, especially with tall gutters, you may fall protection equipment including a roof safety harness and a lifeline rope
Most cleaning chemicals for the roof can be damaging to plants and any other items on the ground. For this reason, you need to cover any plants under the gutters before commencing the cleaning process.
You can use nylon paper or other material that is impervious to water to cover the ground and plants. While some manufacturers claim that their products won’t harm plants and marine life when used, you should always try to keep these chemicals away from plant and animal life. Chemicals with bleach are worse as they can affect pavements and metal in general.
Also, make sure the runoff from the roof doesn’t lead to a pond, swimming pool or lawn but the drain. Using cleaning chemicals can easily kill off plants and animals.
2. Clear any Clogs Inside the Gutters
You should first find the cause of the dirty gutters. If it’s natural dirt that occurs due to age, you can leave the gutter alone. However, if it’s due to a clog, you should remove the twigs, leaves and other items from the gutter to ensure it’s free of any blockages. Depending on the height of your gutters, you might need a ladder and some gutter cleaning tools.
3. Prepare the Cleaning Solution
In this step, you should get your chemical of choice ready for use on the roof. There is a long list of both commercial and homemade gutter cleaning solutions to use for this purpose and it all depends on which one you find appropriate.
4. Apply the Cleaning Solution to the Gutter Outside
Your chemical of choice can then be applied as desired. For example, while some will be sprayed onto the gutters, others will need to be applied with a brush or even plainly poured onto the outside of the gutter. You can either apply the chemicals using a ladder or from the ground.
Be careful not to get the chemicals into your eyes or plants. When using chemicals that you need to spray, avoid doing so on a windy day since you’ll not only waste them but also damage nearby items.
Before going to the next step, you should have read the instructions of the chemical to know how long it needs to sit on the gutter before scrubbing it away. While some chemicals need time to sit on the dirt before scrubbing, some can be cleaned right away. If you are dealing with black streaks or tiger stripes on aluminum gutters exterior, check this article for details
5. Scrub the Gutter
Use the brush with soft bristles to scrub the outside of the gutter. You can also do this using a ladder or while standing on the ground. When you’ve scrubbed enough and are satisfied with the results, you can go to the next step.
If during the scrubbing, you have the desire to add more of the cleaning agent, you’re free to do so. This is usually the case when the gutter has some stubborn stains which require repeated scrubbing and chemical application.
You can also use a car brush with an extension brush to clean outside gutters while standing on the ground. For this, you’ll need a pole, a mid-length car brush, an all-purpose cleaner, a garden hose and electrical tape which adheres in wet conditions.
To use this, follow the following steps:
- Attach the car brush to the end of the extension pole with the electrical tape.
- Immerse the car brush in the bucket of soapy water and extend it up to the gutters.
- Begin to slide it across the exterior gutter area to clean.
The method leaves your outside gutters clean, although car brushes are not made for the various sizes of gutter surfaces, hence you may not reach every part of your gutters.
Moreover, if the car brush and extension pole are not secured properly, the car brush may come loose and fall off or move around excessively, posing danger to you and anyone around.
Instead of using a scrubbing brush, you can also try the following alternatives
This is another way you may use to clean the outside of your gutters. You may need a pad applicator, a painter’s pole, a bucket and an all-purpose cleaner.
To use gutter pads, follow the steps below:
- Attach the pad applicators to a painting pole.
- Immerse the pad applicators in the bucket with the cleaning solution.
- Push the pad applicator along the exterior of the gutters to get rid of the debris and dirt around there.
However, you may face some challenges when using this method.
Debris and protruding nails may get caught up in the pads and may rip them.
Also, depending on your gutter size, pads may be too large or small to clean entire exterior gutters, and hence some parts may be left unclean.
Use a Mop
As absurd as it might sound, you can also use a mop to clean your gutter exteriors. You may need a window cleaning extension pole, a mop head or a mop with a handle, a large janitorial bucket, a garden hose and an all-purpose cleaner.
To clean outside gutters using a mop follow the steps below:
- Take the mop head or a mop that has a handle and attach it to an extension pole with electrical tape or with a mop head, two screws fitted on either end of the extension pole.
- Then, immerse the mop in the bucket of soapy water and extend it back up to the exterior of the gutter and slide it along to clean.
For some gutters, a mop head, as opposed to a car brush, maybe more form fitting to the gutter size and easier to use when cleaning, making it more reliable.
However, mops are soft and may not clean tough stains. Also, debris from inside the gutters may get caught up in the mop fibers. Lastly, it may be cumbersome to maneuver in and out of the bucket.
6. Rinse the Gutter
After scrubbing it, you should rinse the gutter with clean water preferably under pressure. This helps dislodge any dirt on the gutter. If, after the scrubbing process, you still see some dirt, you will need to apply the cleaning chemicals and scrub again before rinsing. Do this until you have the desired results on the gutter.
7. Clean the Area under the Roof
Once done with the gutter cleaning process, you should clean the area directly under the roof. Even when no chemical spills were observed, it’s always good to clean it. You can do this by rinsing the area with large amounts of water to wash away any chemicals be it off plants or other objects.
How to Clean Outside of Gutters without a Ladder?
Without a ladder, you can use telescopic tools, a power washer or a pressure washer.
Further Reading: How Clean Gutters from the Ground
How to Clean Outside of Gutters with a Power Washer
A power washer uses a high-pressure stream of hot water to blast away dirt and stains.
To use a power washer, you need to use a telescoping wand.
Once you have secured the wand to your power washer, position yourself at the end of the gutter and hold the attachment directly on the exterior of the gutter and wash it.
However, be careful when using this method to avoid damaging other parts of your home’s exterior.
This method can also be messy, so you must be ready to rinse the exterior walls and roof if the need arises.
Use a Pressure Washer
You can use a pressure washer with a gutter wand attachment, to blast away all the accumulated debris along the outside of your gutters. The wand attachment has a long pole to allow you clean gutters while standing on the ground.
A pressure washer generates high pressure while using a minimal amount of water, so it is an ideal option to clean outside gutters
Simply connect the tools and walk around the perimeter of your house while spraying on your gutters from the ground.
It is much safer and easier to get the job done. Remember to close all the windows and remove any items on the ground.
Use a Garden Hose
The other way to clean outside gutters without having to climb a ladder is through the use of a garden hose. You can still get high pressure when using an ordinary garden hose, particularly when you buy long nozzles or sprayer attachments that narrow the water stream to a very precise point.
How often should you Clean Gutter Exterior?
Gutters ought to be cleaned every 6 months or twice a year. If the area you live in has lots of snow, tree leaves, dust and other items that can clog your gutters, you should clean at least once every 3 months.
Further Reading: How Often & When Should you Clean Gutters?
Why it is important to Clean the Outside of Gutters
The reasons you need to clean the outside of your gutters include the following:
The house looks better
Rather than having green stuff messing up the look of your house, cleaning the gutter helps keep the house looking great from the outside. A house with mold on the gutter will come across as poorly kept and even creepy to look at.
Prevents damage to the gutter and the roof
When left for too long, dirt on the gutter can easily make it rot and rust away leading to damage to the gutter.
Further on, the gutter will develop holes that allow water to flow to the rest of the house. This can easily lead to damage on the whole roof with rotting and rusting parts getting weaker by the day.
Besides that, the water can also flow to the side of the building damaging the paint and parts of the wall.
Tips to Keep Gutter Outside Clean and Prevent Dirt Build-up
To keep your gutters clean, follow the tips below:
- When washing the gutters, wash and rinse as you go as letting the dirt and chemicals stick will make it hard to clean them off the gutter. If you have a pair of extra hands, wash as they rinse.
- Before you start the washing process for the gutters, always remove solid objects such as leaves and twigs. This makes the cleaning process much easier in general. You should also spray and dust the gutters to make it easier to clean as the spray will break down the dirt.
- Using warm water when rinsing after cleaning has a better result than cold water.
- Always match the cleaning solution to the material the gutter is made of. Some chemicals may be too harsh for some gutters.
- Always protect yourself with protective gear such as aprons, gloves and goggles.
If you can’t clean the gutters yourself, you can always enlist the services of a professional who will do much more than just plain cleaning of the gutters as they can fix any shaky or broken parts to keep them working right.
More on Gutter Cleaning
- How much does it Cost to Clean Gutters
- How to Clean Gutters with Leaf Blower
- How to Clean Gutter Downspouts
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