Fall is just around the corner. Tulip Poplars and Cherry trees are already shedding their leaves, straight into your gutters. When the rainy season starts, you want them to be clear and running properly. But, if you’re tired of clearing your gutters by hand, rooting in the muck and debris, or if you’re just looking for a faster and more convenient way to deal with the problem, power washing is the answer. With this simple guide, you’ll learn how to clean leaves out of a gutter with a power washer.
Use The Right Tool for the Job
Leaf blowers are a great tool for clearing away dry leaves when they’re on the ground. But inside of a gutter, leaves begin to break down and clump together. Once congested, gutters become extremely difficult to clear with just air. Similarly, a commercial garden hose lacks the pressure to clear all of the debris on its own. Even with a nozzle attachment, garden hoses cannot match the function and performance of a power washer.
Which Power Washer is Right for Me?
For clearing your gutters, most power washer models will do the job, so you don’t have to be too picky or knowledgeable. But you will want something that will last through the years. You can pick one up at most hardware stores (Ace Hardware, Home Depot, McLendon). Many department stores also carry them (Wal-Mart, Target, Sears). However, if you’re shopping online, HomeDepot.com offers both top-of-the-line power washers, as well as models for the do-it-yourselfer on a budget. Wal-Mart also carries both high-end and more affordable machines.
What Pressure Will I Need?
When choosing a power washer, consider the amount of pressure generated by each machine. Housing materials such as soft-grain woods and aluminum can be damaged by pressures higher than 1,500 psi (pounds per square-inch). The spray power of most commercially available power washers falls in the 1,200 to 3,000 psi range. For our purposes,a model that can provide 1,200 psi will do nicely.
Are Power Washers Worth the Investment?
A quality power washer may cost a bit more, but the money you’ll save on home repairs is well worth it. Backup and overflow from clogged gutters can run into the walls of your home and underneath it. When that water freezes during the cold months, it will expand, causing serious damage. Repairing a home’s foundation can easily cost you thousands of dollars.
Clogged Gutters Can be a Hazard
Backed-up gutters aren’t just a financial liability. They can pose a serious health risk to you and your family. Damp environments promote the growth of mold and mildew. A trickle of water down the driveway can freeze or get under the concrete and cause cracking and sagging. Both are serious trip/slip hazards.
Keeping Both Feet on the Ground
We understand that climbing ladders isn’t for everybody. There are those, for instance, with physical disabilities or fear of heights. But we’ve got a solution for them too and, with a few handy power washer attachments, anyone can clean their gutters from the comfort and safety of their front yard.
Telescoping Wand – If you cannot or will not climb up a ladder to clean your gutters, than a telescoping wand attachment is the tool for you. It connects to the power washer’s hose and extends your reach, up to twenty-four feet on some models.
Cleaning Attachment – This simple, curved extension angles the power washer perfectly to clean out your gutters. Just connect it to the end of the telescoping wand and the high-pressure spray will clear the mess in short order. Here is a video demonstration of the cleaning attachment in action.
Brush Attachment – Cleaning the inside of your gutters is essential to keeping them functional. But if they’re filthy on the outside, it can make your home look drab and ugly. The brush attachment connects to the power washer hose or the wand extension, allowing you to gently brush your gutters’ exterior to a clean finish.
How to Clean Leaves Out of a Gutter with a Power Washer
Now that you’ve got a power washer and any necessary attachments, it’s time to get to work!
First connect and power on your washer, according to the instructions that came with your model.
Test the water pressure by spraying it at ground level. This familiarizes you with the pressure hose’s kickback, from a safe height.
If you’re using a ladder, set it up now. We’ve included a guide to basic ladder safety, from the American Ladder Institute HERE.
To clear a gutter, start at one end and spray down its length, allowing the pressurized stream to push out the leaves and other debris. Start near the downspout and move away to minimize clogging. Here’s a short video demonstration of the technique, using a cleaning attachment.
Power Washing Tips
When you clear the gutter, debris is going to fall to the ground. A small amount will likely end up on the side of your house. Do NOT use the pressure washer to clean it off. The pressurized water can damage the paint and siding. Use a standard garden hose instead. DoItYourself.com suggests laying down tarp or a plastic sheet to catch the falling debris for easy cleanup.
Well That Was Easy
Congratulations! Now you know how to clean leaves out of a gutter with a power washer. It may not seem like that big of a deal, but keeping your gutters clear is one of the best things you can do to invest in the long-term value and safety of your home. And it’s relatively easy, once you know how.