Gutter cleaning: it might be the most dreaded of all the fall cleanup chores. It's messy. It's smelly. It's a far cry from a slow, relaxing hayride through a pumpkin patch.
But gutter cleaning doesn't have to be as difficult or unpleasant as it used to be. Tools like your trusty leaf blower can make cleaning leaves, twigs, and other types of debris out of your gutters quick and painless.
Like all dirt and debris, leaves and other yard waste that accumulate in your gutters do more than just smell bad. Overflowing gutters can lead to all sorts of problems:
If all of that wasn't enough, clogged gutters simply look bad and reduce the aesthetics of a home, too.
The traditional method of gutter cleaning involved putting on the thickest, most water-resistant pair of gloves you owned, climbing a ladder, and reaching into your gutters to grab whatever muck was in there and pull it out.
You can imagine why people began using powered leaf blowers to accomplish the task instead.
These days, with the power of a leaf blower in your hands, you don't even have to climb a ladder to clear your gutters of dry debris. You can reach it safely by connecting a gutter extension kit.
A gutter kit is a series of tubes designed to connect to your handheld leaf blower's nozzle and extend your blower's reach. The piece at the farthest end from your leaf blower will be curved so that you can reach over the gutter's edge and aim the airflow toward the debris.
The best part? You can use your leaf blower and gutter extension kit with both of your feet firmly on the ground.
As tempting as it might be to attach your extension kit to your blower and immediately start shooting leaves and twigs out of your gutter, it helps to know how to use it safely and effectively first.
Certain manufacturers' gutter kits are universal and can fit any brand of handheld leaf blower. Others are designed to work only with the same brand of leaf blower. Check the kit's details before you buy.
Additionally, your gutter kit might require your leaf blower to capable of producing a certain minimum air volume (measured in cubic feet per minute, or CFM) or a certain air speed (measured in miles per hour, or MPH). Be sure that your blower can produce the power that your kit requires.
Some kits can also be used with the backpack leaf blowers commonly seen on landscaping professionals. If you'd like to explore this option, check that your kit is compatible.
You might have to remove your backpack blower's tube for the kit to fit.
When you blow leaves out of your gutter, you're going to send debris flying every which way. Not only that; you'll also be using a loud piece of power equipment that can potentially damage your hearing.
Before starting to clean, make sure you're wearing the proper safety gear:
It's the same as using your leaf blower on the ground: with the gutter kit attached, your handheld leaf blower will be most helpful for moving dry leaves and debris and less useful when it's used on wet, damp debris.
If it's been a while since you've cleaned your gutters, or it's rained recently, and you find wet leaves and mud at the bottom of your gutters, first clear the dry debris with your leaf blower. Then, use a hose or a pressure washer on a low setting to clear the wet debris.
If you can turn and adjust the nozzle on your gutter cleaning extension kit, turn it so that the opening faces away from the tube at about a 30 to 45-degree angle.
Work toward your gutter's downspout, but take care not to push any debris into the spout, which can get clogged.
If your downspout is clogged, you might be able to loosen the debris in one of several ways:
With regular cleaning, however, you should be able to prevent and avoid the worst of the gutter clogs. And that can leave you free to enjoy hayrides, pumpkin patches, and all the other good things that fall has to offer.