Maintaining gutters is a crucial part of home maintenance, and it is easy to forget how important our gutters are. Gutters can easily develop clogs and cause a mess of problems for you. From fallen leaves during the fall, and storms in the winter, gutters should be clear of large debris so that they can work the way they are supposed to. Many people clean their gutters by setting up a ladder and pulling out chunks of leaves and debris slowly, which can be incredibly time-consuming. You might not realize the dirt that is left behind that can accumulate quickly right after cleaning your gutters. Using a pressure washer to clean your gutters is not only faster but will definitely provide a better end result. All the large chunks of debris will be gone, and you will not need to worry about the little pieces you maybe could not reach since the water will push all that out as well.
Best Tools to Pressure Wash Gutters
As always, safety comes first. Odds are, you will not be able to reach the gutters of your house with just the standard pressure washer hose. Before you just assume that your ladder will help you get there, there are a few things to remember. Pressure washers can have some serious kickback, and you might need to use a lot of pressure to push out clumps of wet leaves. Using a ladder and a pressure washer can be very dangerous, so consider using an extension instead. A telescoping wand is easy to install since it just connects to the hose of your pressure washer, and it can reach as high as 18 feet. To truly enhance your gutter cleaning, attaching a gutter cleaning wand to your telescoping wand will drastically increase the performance. Its shape allows access to the gutter without having to twist and turn in crazy ways. Simply stick it in and let it go. There is a great chance that you’ll get hit with some splashes, but it is a small price to pay for quick and easy gutter cleaning.
After you have cleaned out your gutters, you will find that there is a mess of leaves and debris all over your property. While you could walk around and pick them up yourself, you already have your pressure washer out, so why not just use that and save some time? You could get two jobs done at once and just clean your driveway and patio with your pressure washer. Push the leaves into one section, then clean them up that way. At the same time, you will have a bright and shiny looking driveway to match your clean gutters. If you wanted to save even more time, you can also invest in a water broom attachment for your pressure washer. A water broom usually has 2-3 nozzles that give a wider cleaning area. Depending on your pressure washer and the amount of PSI, you might only be able to use a smaller one. A two nozzle water broom is better for pressure washing units that have a small PSI output, like around 2500 or less. If your pressure washer can accommodate higher PSI, then you would be good to use a three nozzle water broom.
Should I Use Detergent to Pressure Wash My Gutters?
It is always recommended to use detergent to clean your gutters. If there are some tough stains, the detergent will help to rip apart that stain. Before you start cleaning your gutters with detergent, you should soak everything, even the surrounding area with clean water first. The water will give surrounding plants a barrier in the event some of the detergents get on them. You should also use a low pressure at first to avoid damage. You can use a really basic detergent, or follow our homemade recipe to clean your gutters. When you are ready to apply the detergent, it is important that you do not spray the soffits directly since that will just lead you to be a soapy mess. Instead, aim ahead of where you are and a little to the side so that is blows away from you. Additionally, you actually want to try to limit the amount of water that goes into the soffits as it can create mildew if it does not dry all the way.
Cleaning Your Gutters With A Pressure Washer
You can wait just a few minutes for the detergent to break up the stain, then switch to your higher pressure nozzle to get to cleaning. Flush out any remaining detergent first so you are not adding layers of detergent on top of what is already there. The best method for cleaning the gutter is to spray along your soffits and gutters to remove everything. For cleaning the inside of the gutter, use your gutter cleaner with the telescoping wand to spray right into the gutter. It is best to start at a downspout and work your away from it so that you can clean any clogs or debris that is closest to the downspout. Starting away from the downspout might cause a clog as you are working, which will make the job harder and possibly damage your gutter if the weight of the accumulated leaves and debris gets to be too much. Provide a pathway for all the debris to either washout or be pushed out of the gutter. That being said, do not try to just get everything into the downspout. Excessive levels of build-up might be better off with a quick scoop with your hands so your gutters do not get overwhelmed.
Gutter Maintenance in the Winter
The reason we might forget about our gutter upkeep is that they seem to get the most active during the winter months. Ideally, we would consider the gutters as a central part of general home maintenance. Given our busy schedules, it makes sense that we simply just forget to clean the gutter during the summer. Then, all of a sudden, a snow or rainstorm rolls through and beings leaves, twigs, and debris on your roof that then settles its way into the gutters. This is one the most expensive damage might occur since frost and debris can lead to a ton of weight being pushed down on the gutters. Especially if you live in a colder climate, you might not want to bust out the pressure washer if you find you need to do an immediate clean up for your gutters. Instead, take the unpleasant and tedious route and cleanout chunks as soon as there is a thaw. Focus on corners and areas where debris might gather and scoop it out. While doing this, examine the gutters for leaks and that there are no gaps.
Minor Repairs for Your Gutter
While you are cleaning your gutter, you should definitely be checking for any damage or anything that looks like it will need repair soon. Luckily, there a few simple little things you can do when you catch some signs of wear or damage. If you find that the gutters are getting loose, do not stress. Spikes and ferrules are the most common tools used to hang gutters and sometimes the spikes will become loose. You can pound them back in, but they will definitely come loose again. If you want to further secure your gutters, you can install fascia hanger brackets by connecting it under the front lip and then screwing the other side in. In the event that water seems to get behind the gutter, this is easily fixed with a gutter apron. It goes under the shingles of your roof and hangs over the gutter. The apron can create that barrier to prevent the water from sneaking behind. One of the best minor repair hacks for your gutter is tying a nylon rope onto the gutter hangers into the downspout to prevent the noisy dripping that can occur. The water will get stuck to the rope and make a much quieter sound when it leaves the downspout; however, this does mean that you have less of a flow going out. Remove the rope before pressure washing your gutter.
F.A.Q About Pressure Washing Gutters
Q. What Type Of Nozzle Should I Use?
A. This depends on what stage of the pressure-washing process you’re on. There are five types of nozzles, each with their own purpose:
- 0º – red nozzle: This nozzle provides a narrow, powerful stream of water. Used for difficult stains, mud that’s caked on a surface, and dirt that’s been on a surface for a while.
- 15º – yellow nozzle: The yellow nozzle uses a small angle of spray for focused cleaning. Good for dirt that’s difficult to remove and spaces that need extra attention.
- 25º – green nozzle: Green nozzles provide a medium angle of spray to wash sensitive surfaces. Use this nozzle for your deck, fencing, and other areas that need protection.
- 40º – white nozzle: The white nozzle provides the largest angle of spray. Use it for cleaning large surfaces, like driveways and patios.
- 65º – soap (black) nozzle: The Soap tip is for spraying cleaning fluid. Only spray cleaning solutions with the black nozzle.
Amazon has sets of nozzles online for an affordable price.
When you spray the ground around your worksite, use the white nozzle. As you don’t want to damage the foliage you’re trying to protect. Then, switch to the black nozzle when applying the detergent.
After letting the detergent break down, use the yellow or red nozzle to spray out your gutters. If you have a lot of leaves and mud built up, your best bet is to try the yellow nozzle before moving on to the red. Always use the least amount of pressure possible to prevent any damage.
Finally, use the white nozzle when cleaning the leaves and mud off your driveway and other surfaces.
Q. What Is The Best Pressure Washing Detergent To Use?
A. You should only use cleaning solutions approved for power-washers. Using other types of solutions can cause damage to your machine and shorten its life. Or even cause a complete failure of the equipment.
For gutters, we have a recipe for a pressure-washer detergent that you can put together at home. You can find that recipe and more information about detergents here.
If you’d rather used detergent mixed professionally, look for an all-purpose cleaner that’s safe on metal and wood. SunJoe’s heavy duty cleaner is an affordable option that’s biodegradable and cleans wood, brick, and metal.
Q. How Often Should I Pressure Wash Gutters?
A. The answer to this question depends on a few things, mainly what type of climate you live in and the types of plants around your home.
If you live in a wooded area with a lot of trees around, you’ll have to clean your gutters at least twice a year. If there are pine trees around your home, you’ll have to clean them three or four times a year. Pine needles will clog up your gutter, and when mixed with leaves can cause serious problems for your home.
In a warm desert climate, like what you’d find in the American Southwest. You can probably get away with a complete pressure wash gutters once a year. You’ll have to take into account any trees around your home though. Your best bet is to do a visual inspection once every 3-4 months. If you notice a buildup, go ahead and get rid of it. Waiting will only exacerbate the problem.
Q. What Happens If I Ignore My Gutters?
A. We know that the task to pressure wash gutters isn’t a fun chore for most of the population (we personally think it’s a blast). With that said, you could put your home and health at risk if you let your gutters go too long without cleaning them.
A home’s gutter system keeps water away from the foundation of your house. A gutter can’t do this if it’s clogged up with debris. When water sits in your gutter, it has to go somewhere. Unfortunately, it ends up going down. Water likes to stay in motion, and gravity pulls it down naturally.
The water could make its way into your home’s foundation, which leads to rotted wood. It could also lead to flooding, causing water damage that costs thousands to repair.
Overflowing water can also make its way to your roof, where it can cause leaks. These leaks damage the inside of your home, potentially leading to the need to replace your roof and parts of your flooring.
Your personal health is also put at risk if you ignore your gutters. When you leave debris inside of your gutters, mold, and mildew growth. Mold spreads quickly and, if left unchecked, will find its way inside of your home. Mold can cause wheezing, coughing, irritated eyes, and other health concerns.
Q. If I Don’t Have A Pressure Washer, Is It Worth The Investment?
A. Yes! Buying a pressure washer seems expensive, and the up-front cost scares some people away, but long-term homeowners save time and money.
Take this Champion pressure washer for example. At its medium price point it seems expensive, but consider the cost of having someone pressure wash gutters for you three times a year. Now think of the cost of having someone clean the sides of your home, which you’ll also need twice a year to keep mold out and maintain structural integrity.
By the time you factor those service calls in, the pressure washer more than pays for itself within a year. When you think of all the time you’ll waste having to make appointments, wait for the service people to come, and sit at home while they work, you realize that there’s no reason to not own a pressure washer.
Pressure washing your home as a part of your regular maintenance adds value as well. Pressure washers cost money up-front but save you money in the long run. You can even save money by using it to wash your car!
If you’re interested in knowing more about the benefits and uses of pressure washers, check out the rest of our blog today.