One way or another, debris will find its way into your gutters, and someone—you or a gutter service—will have to climb a ladder and clean them out. Here are some basic tricks of the trade to make the job easier.
Use a standoff. It lets you rest a ladder on the roof, preventing gutter scratches and dents and increasing ladder stability.
Stay on the ladder. Falls are more likely if you work from the roof.
Protect your hands. Wear gloves and use a gutter scoop.
Start at the downspout. You'll give standing water a way out.
Check the elbows. If clogged, use a forceful spray from a hose to open them up. Otherwise, take them apart, drilling out any rivets, then reassemble the pieces with short, stainless-steel sheet-metal screws.
Flush. Once gutters are clean and downspouts are reattached, hose them down to make sure they're draining as they should.
Check the brackets or hangers. Tighten, relocate, or replace hardware if it's loose or if water accumulates in low spots.
Seal leaks. When the gutter is dry, fill small holes and seams from the inside using a butyl-based gutter caulk. Scrape away old caulk and clean the surface before applying the new stuff.
Pro advice: One good way to prevent clogs is to fit your gutters with big downspouts, either 4-inch round or 3-by-4-inch rectangular. Bigger downspouts also allow a gutter to handle more runoff without overflowing.
—Tom Silva, TOH general contractor