Our handy guide to gutter maintenance and repair

Keep your gutters in top condition with our easy-to-follow guide on maintenance and repair. From cleaning to fixing, we’ve got the answers right here!

Whether for your home or your business, cleaning and maintaining the gutters of your building is a job everyone has to face at some point. While it may not be a favourite job, it’s undoubtedly a necessary one. In an ideal world, everyone would clean out their gutters at least twice a year, and even if they don’t need cleaning, having a quick inspection of them to ensure everything is in working order never hurts. A damaged or clogged gutter can cause more problems than it’s worth, like dampness, leaks, cracks, and rot, leading to damage to both the exterior and interior of your home, which can be costly to fix.

At Smiths Hire we know a thing or two about DIY, especially around the home and in the garden, and we have our handy award-winning tool hire services so you can get access to whatever piece of equipment you need without breaking the bank, and once you’re finished, you can send it right back! So, today, we’ve put together this handy guide so you know exactly what to do and what equipment and tools you’ll need when it comes to inspecting, cleaning and repairing your gutters!

roof guttering

The basics of gutter maintenance

Gutter maintenance can be a dangerous job, considering it’s working at a height, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Some older houses and buildings can be quite a way off the floor too, so if you’re not someone with trade experience or someone who is used to working from heights safely, it’s best to call in the help of a professional to help you get your gutters cleaned or repaired when it’s time.

Why do gutters get blocked?

A clog is the most common problem people face when it comes to their gutters, and while it’s more often than not a relatively easy fix, leaving it untreated can damage your home or business’s waterproofing system (and it’s most likely going to cause a leak or an overspill). But why do gutters get clogged in the first place? Your gutters are designed to direct water that runs off your property away from the rain and thunderstorms away from the building so it doesn’t get damaged. Still, over time, they fill up with all kinds of debris like dirt, leaves, twigs and the occasional bird (or wasp!) nest, which can lead to a nasty blockage. So like anything else, they need a routine cleaning schedule.

How to clean your gutters

If you’re someone with trade experience and you’ve had the relevant training for when it comes to working at a height, you can probably tackle the job without the help of a professional. (If you need training, we offer courses!)

Step 1: gather your equipment

First things first, you need to assemble all the tools you’ll be using. At Smiths Hire, we have a variety of tools you can use to make the job quick and easy including:

Other tools you’ll need to get the job done include:

  • A bucket
  • An S hook
  • Eye Protection
  • A sturdy pair of gloves
Eye Protection Goggles - Safety EN166.1B

Step 2: start setting up

Now you’ve got everything you need to get the job done, it’s time to start setting up your equipment. Before you start to assemble your ladders make sure to put on your safety gear. Leaning ladders are great bits of kit if they’re used correctly; when misused, they can be incredibly unstable and hazardous. That’s why it’s important to only set them up on flat ground, using this 1-in-4 rule, which means that the ladder should be one space or unit of measurement out for every four spaces or units up (a 75° angle). You can also use a ladder stop to further stabilise the ladder at the foot by increasing the friction.

A ladder stay is a handy tool you can also use to make the job easier for yourself. It makes tasks such as cleaning or repairing gutters easier by keeping the top of the ladder away from the wall. It provides a safe and sturdy way to access the parts of the roof that you need to get to. If you need to work on a corner of your house or property, then a corner ladder stay will help you get the job done.

It’s also essential to only take light materials up with you, like your bucket for collecting the debris; you can attach this to your ladder with the S hook for easy access. We actually have an entire blog on ladder safety that’s worth checking out before you get started!

Step 3: clean or repair the gutter

Now you’ve assembled your toolkit, and you’re ready to get up there and get the job done. If you’re removing blockables, you’ll be able to do it by hand, by grabbing handfuls of the dead leaves, twigs and other debris and placing them in your bucket (just make sure you’re wearing tough gloves). Once you’ve removed everything, if you have a hose pipe long enough to fit, you can give it a gentle hose down for good measure. If not, just do your best to make sure it’s free from any debris.

While you’re up there, check for any damage to your gutter that you can catch before it gets worse. If there are any quick fixes, like loose brackets, you’ll just be able to pop them right back into place. If you have a cracked gutter, you’ll need to fill it with sealant and smooth it over on the inside, wait for that to dry, and repeat the same step on the outside of your gutter. Then, you can test it and see if it holds up. If it’s damaged beyond repair, you may need to replace the gutter.

Step 4: Climb down and empty the bucket

Once you’ve finished, climb back down the ladder maintaining three points of contact at all times. If you’ve been removing a blockage, throw the debris you’ve collected into your composter so you can make some use of it on the plants. Then you’re good to go!

You can simply repeat these safety steps whenever you need to inspect, fix, or unclog your gutter. As we said earlier, twice a year should be sufficient to keep them in good working order, but if you spot a crack or a leak, it’s best to fix it as  soon as possible before any real damage is done.

For over 50 years, Smiths Hire has been dedicated to providing top-quality equipment and tool hire services to DIY enthusiasts and trade professionals. With 16 tool hire depots across the North West and Yorkshire, including in major cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds, we’re never too far away! If you have any questions about maintaining your gutters or any of the tools we’ve discussed or need some expert advice, do not hesitate to contact our team at 0333 323 2100. We are committed to providing the support you need!