How To Clean and Maintain A Gutter System

An aluminum seamless gutter system has become the norm for most residential homes in the United States and if you’re reading this, you very likely have one installed on your own home.  What many people fail to realize is that the gutter system requires diligent maintenance, typically in the form of cleaning.

How often should you check your gutter system?

We’ve lost track of the number of times we’ve been asked by homeowners how many times per year they should be checking/cleaning their gutter system.  This schedule will vary from home to home and depend on various factors.  Is your home surrounded by deciduous trees?  You should expect to clean your gutters at least two to three times per year.  Is your home in an open area, lacking any nearby trees?  You may be able to plan for once-a-year maintenance.

The other thing to keep in mind is whether you’re capable of performing the necessary steps.  Do you own an appropriate ladder?  With a single-story home, a simple step ladder should suffice but if the home is multi-story, you will most assuredly need an extension ladder.  Are you physically able to climb your ladder and from the top of said ladder, go through the gutter system to remove debris?  At a certain point, be it through age or injury, we all eventually become unable to do certain physical tasks.

Or, despite being physically able to complete the inspection directly, you may simply not have the time nor the desire to do these items yourself.  Thankfully, there are multiple companies in your area that can be hired to clean your gutter system – some will offer per cleaning pricing and even more will likely offer a yearly maintenance program.

Now, if you’ve made the decision to perform this cleaning and inspection yourself, there are a few things to be cognizant of and we’ve listed them below.

Ladder Placement

Whether performing your maintenance with a step ladder or an extension ladder, be mindful of your placement of the ladder.  Always be sure the ladder is placed on an even and stable base – there’s nothing quite so terrifying as being near the top of a ladder and feel it suddenly shift below you.

If using an extension ladder, you’ll need to have that ladder leaned against the seamless gutter system – if placed incorrectly you can possibly damage the system itself with your body weight climbing the ladder.  Too low of an angle will limit your ability to access the gutters and too extreme of an angle can be unsafe to climb.

You’ll also want to consider where your ladder is placed along the gutter system to allow for access to the largest area of the system – it’s never a fun time to have to continuously move your ladder location, six inches at a time.

What To Look For

Plant Debris

Leaves and small branches building up in the gutter system can eventually lead to bigger issues down the road.  Have a yard bag or bucket handy and be sure to remove as much of the material as you can.

Sand-Like Material

If you’re seeing a significant build-up of what appears to be sand, this can be an indicator that you need a professional to review the roofing system.  This sandy debris is granules that have been shed from asphalt roofing shingles.  All shingles will shed small amounts of granules throughout the lifetime of the roof so don’t be surprised if you do see a small amount during your gutter cleaning.  However, if you are seeing a significant amount – such as completely coating sections of your gutters, your roof may be reaching the end of its lifespan.


Your gutter system is more than likely comprised of aluminum stock material.  Over time, this metal will flex and compress with the seasons – it is possible after varying extremes of hot and cold weather along with age, the gutter system may develop cracks.  That cracking can obviously impact the effectiveness of the gutter system, making it difficult for water to be properly directed away from the house.  In some scenarios, sealant can be applied to extend the life of that gutter section – in some cases, that section may need to be replaced.


Smaller dents throughout your gutter system can be an indication of hail damage to your property.  Seeing a very limited amount could be chalked up minor issues but if the denting is widespread, this is another sign to contact a professional to review your property in total.  Those dents become a weak spot within the system and over time, will create failure points that can wreak havoc down the road.

After completing your cleaning and inspection of the main gutter system, be sure not to neglect the downspouts themselves – they are responsible for directly water away from property to be sure water isn’t pooling near the foundation and causing issues.

Both the upper end of the downspout where it connects to the gutter system should be inspected for debris as well as the lower end of the downspout that drains the water.  If there are concerns about a potential clog in the middle of the downspout, a hose can be used to confirm water is still flowing correctly.

While we do not provide gutter cleaning services at this time, we are always happy to come inspect your gutters system to see if repairs are needed. If you need a professional to provide an inspection, you can schedule an appointment with one of our capable Field Supervisors to further discuss your gutter needs. If you have any questions regarding the health of your home, call our office today at (417) 229-0667!