How often do you clean your gutters each year? If you are like most homeowners, you likely tackle this chore two to four times annually. Without leaf gutter guards leaves and debris fill the gutters very quickly and cause clogs and decay of your home’s foundation. Whether you have guards installed or not doesn't change the way you keep your leaf gutters clean. Here are five steps to clean and maintain your leaf gutters or guards so that rainwater and melting snow drain properly.

1. Gather Your Cleaning Supplies 

When cleaning your gutters, this is also an ideal time to clean your roof. To do this, you need a ladder, a rope to tie it down, garden gloves, eye goggles, garden hose with a pressure gauge, garden spade and bucket to gather the debris so that you do not have to rake your yard after the gutter cleanup.

2. Clean the Rooftop First 

Before starting any project, make sure you wear proper safety gear like garden gloves and goggles. If you have a harness, it is a good idea to wear it to prevent injury while on the roof. You will want to start this cleanup project by removing any debris from the rooftop. If you skip this step, heavy rainfall will cause any debris to enter the gutter and clog the drainage. You will want to remove large debris or use the high-powered hose to remove smaller particles.  

3. Clean the Gutters and Downspouts 

This step will vary depending on if you have leaf gutter guards installed or not. If you have guards, remove them carefully and place them on the roof. Use the bucket and garden spade to scoop out the debris, and place it in the bucket. If you are unsure of holding the bucket on the ladder, you can place plastic or cloth sheeting on the ground and throw it down. It will make the cleanup much easier since you have debris and leaves ready for disposal.  

4. Use a Water Hose to Test for Leaks 

Before reassembling your leaf guards, test your gutters to ensure they work properly, are leak-free and that water travels unobstructed through the downspout. If you find any clogs in the piping, the high-pressure water hose will disengage any debris quickly.

5. Install or Replace Gutter Guards 

If you have yet to install gutter guards, attach them now. You have access to brush, foam, perforated metal guards, mesh screens and surface tension designs that prevent debris as well as rodents from damaging your gutter and guard system. Materials also range from plastic, copper, metal, steel and aluminum, which provide homes with different benefits. If you already have them installed on your gutter system, reattach them.

Leaf guards will reduce your maintenance needs significantly since they prevent debris from entering the gutters. Checking the roof also prevents clogs which protects your foundation.