It’s the day after Valentine’s Day but the love is not all lost. Don’t forget about your gutters and downspouts! Typically this is a tip we would recommend towards the end of March, but because of this mild winter we seem to be having we decided now’s as good a time as any to get outside and check those downspouts and gutters! Obviously this is an important maintenance activity to perform when rain is frequent especially in the spring; however, when the winter snow melts and collects in your gutters, you need the proper drainage mechanisms to keep your house and family safe and happy.

In the fall your gutters collect leaves and debris which can wreak havoc on the drainage of melting snow and rain in the winter and spring. We are recommending you check your gutters now due to the mild temperatures and frequent rain.

Doityourself.com, DIYLife.com, and Realtor.com all have fantastic, comprehensive guides to cleaning your gutters and downspouts. We summarized each one into an inclusive list of materials you will need and step-by-step instructions to answer all of your “how-to” questions.


  • Extension ladder
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Narrow garden trowel
  • Bucket and s-hook
  • Garden hose
  • Plumbers snake (if necessary)


  1. Lean the ladder against the house – NOT THE GUTTER. If you lean the ladder against the gutter, the thin metal might bend or dent which could cause extensive damage.
  2. Hang your bucket on the gutter using the s-hook. This is where you will drop your debris. Some people like to use a tarp on the ground below the ladder and drop the debris on the tarp. This might save a few trips up and down the ladder, but you will still have to clean the debris from the tarp at the end.
  3. Pick out any branches and big obstructions. It is recommended that you start in a corner of the gutter and work away from the downspout. This can help you avoid downspout clogs.
  4. Scoop the debris using your garden trowel and drop it in the bucket or onto the tarp. Continue this process, moving the ladder every so often to avoid overreaching for debris which could be a potential safety hazard.
  5. Once you’ve cleared all debris, use the garden hose to spray dirt and other loose debris out of the gutter. Spray toward the downspout. If water and debris does not flow freely through the downspout, you can use the pressure from the hose to attempt to blast the clog free. If this still does not work you may need to use a plumbers snake to break up the clog.
  6. The debris you collect from your gutters can be used as compost – this is a great way to feed your garden and save trash bags!
  7. IMPORTANT: As you are cleaning the gutter, be sure to check for damage and holes. It is important to repair these damages as soon as possible, especially with spring showers approaching!

If this sounds like too much work or something that you don’t feel you can complete, you might want to install a gutter shield. They are metal and look similar to a screen. A gutter shield collects debris at the top while allowing water to flow into the gutter. Talk to your neighbors or local hardware store for recommendations.

Did these tips work for you? Did we miss something or inaccurately explain anything? Please let us know! askacontractor@gusanthony.com or socialmedia@gusanthony.com We’d love to hear your feedback about this and any other posts we’ve published.