First thing is to ask why a gutter needs to be clean in the first place. The reason is the debris prevents rain water from exiting the roof area as quickly as possible. Excessive moisture is not good for roofs and exterior walls. Any obstruction in a gutter could cause the water to back up under shingles, behind the eaves and eventually in the walls.
Secondly, the debris works its way to the downspouts and can get lodged therein, usually by a turn (elbow) or a joint. It might seem a backup in the downspout is nothing to be concerned with but here in Ohio and in wet areas of the country the water backup will push excessive backflow out of the joints at elbows and contribute to pools of excessive water near the house or structure. We repair quite a few rotted wood porch posts from exactly this kind of moisture damage. Here is an example of how to repair this kind of damage.
The best way to clean gutter is to hire a pro. But if you are a determined DIY homeowner here is what you will need–
1) A durable, non-wobbly ladder tall enough to reach the top, inside section of the gutter. The best ladders have an U-shaped extension that allows the ladder to rest on the siding or the roof and not the painted, delicate outside edge of the gutter which can easily scratch and mar the gutter.
2) The dirtiest, used, messed up uniform in your wardrobe. Gutter cleaning can be one of the dirtiest jobs in a home, especially if the debris is wet and damp. We have cleaned many a gutter that had vegetation growing to a length of 3 feet and more. It is a messy job to reach down in the gutter to remove the “tree” growth, and to do it without getting dirt and splatter over the clean, white siding of the meticulous home of your fussy customer.
3) Gloves and a flat blade “putty” kind of scraper/knife. The gloves should be somewhat thick and water-resistant. They will get soggy and care must be taken when climbing up and down the ladder grabbing rungs with damp, wet gloved hands. Also, the rungs on the ladder can be slippery at your feet. The flat blade is used to get at the bottom of the gutter to get under the debris. A flat blade about the width of the flat bottom of the gutter (about 3″) will get in the corners and edges to dislodge the solidified organic material.
4) Bucket. Any kind of bucket should be used for the debris if there is an issue with dumping the waste on the ground below the gutters. Some of our customers have meticulous beds and gardens and others have natural beds. For the diy’er is it best to use a bucket? We suggest consulting with the boss of the house, so it is best to ask the wife ahead of time.
Unless the diy’er has experience on 24 foot ladders, wet gloves, slippery ladder rungs and juggling a bucket, scraper and maybe even a garden hose (if you really want clean) then leave the job to a pro.