Routine Gutter Maintenance Checklist

Person cleaning gutter from leaves in autumn with hand.

Taking care of your gutters is important–– and not just to keep your house looking tidy. Your gutters serve an important role in preventing water damage to your roof and shingles, so following a good gutter maintenance checklist is an essential part of your home maintenance routine. 

In this article, we’ll go over a basic checklist for routine gutter maintenance and some gutter maintenance tips, as well as some seasonal maintenance tasks that require extra attention at different times of year. Follow these steps, and your gutters will look good as new!

Gutter Maintenance Task Checklist

You’re ready to get outside and get your gutters back in shape, but where should you start? Here are the materials you’ll need for an at-home gutter checkup:

  • Bucket 
  • Leaf blower (optional)
  • Extension ladder (NOT a step ladder)
  • Work gloves and clothes
  • Garden trough
  • Garden hose or wet/dry vacuum with gutter cleaning attachment (for ground removal)

Get Rid of Debris

gutters and leaves in a gutter
Photo Credit: A&J Fotos / Canva Pro / License

The first step in gutter maintenance is to clear out any debris that may have piled up since the last cleaning. Sticks, leaves, and nest debris are all common gutter findings that can lead to clogs down the line. You can clean your gutters from the top of a ladder using a bucket or leaf blower, or use a wet/dry vacuum or a garden hose with a gutter cleaning attachment to keep your feet safely planted on the ground.

Clean Off Gutters

Man standing on the ladder and washing the gutter using a garden hose
Photo Credit: Janice Chen / Canva Pro / License

Once you’ve cleaned everything out of your gutters, it’s time to clean them off. If you’re using a garden hose with a gutter attachment, turn the water on full pressure to help get rid of mold, algae, and mildew. Power washers also come in handy for this step of the process.

Check for Leaks and Drainage

water leaking out of a gutter
Photo Credit: Surrender to the sky your heart of anger / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A cleanout is the perfect opportunity to perform a gutter inspection and check for any leaking or drainage issues that might be impacting gutter function. Luckily, the procedure is the same for both! 

To check for leaks and drainage, place the opening of a hose (or hose attachment) directly against your downspout and have another person examine the gutters as the water flows through. It should be visible if there are any leaks, and by pressing your ear to the gutter, you should be able to hear the water running through your downspout.

Not seeing any leaks, but you can’t hear anything? You may have a blockage on your hands. Shoot a strong stream of water, such as from a power washer, through the downspout opening to flush out any debris.

Check for Signs of Damage

inspecting gutters
Photo Credit: Lolostock / Canva Pro / License

After your gutters are thoroughly cleaned, you’ll have an easier time checking them for any signs of structural damage. Rust, dents, and storm damage are all common gutter issues that should be taken care of by a gutter technician.

Gutter Maintenance By Season

It’s recommended that you clean out your gutters twice a year, but there are many reasons that homeowners might want to give their gutters a little more TLC. Do any of these apply to you?

  • Lots of tall trees on or around your property
  • Frequent, heavy rainfall
  • Below freezing temperatures in winter

All of these factors play a part in how often you should clean your gutters, and which seasons are most important for different gutter maintenance tasks. Let’s break down the basics of seasonal gutter maintenance so your gutters will look sharp all year round!

Spring Gutter Maintenance

Clean Out Winter Debris

With winter weather out of the way, spring is the perfect time to clear out all the roof and gutter debris that spent winter hiding under snow and ice. Check for branches, twigs, and leaves in the early spring to stop clogs in their tracks.

Check for Staining

All that debris that piled up over winter might also result in staining from algae, mold, or moss growth. Check your gutters for stains and unwelcome guests and give them a thorough cleaning!

Summer Gutter Maintenance

Install New Equipment

installing a leaf gutter guard
Photo Credit: IndyEdge / Canva Pro / License

Summer often has less rainfall, so it’s the perfect time to upgrade your gutters. Switching to a new material or gutter style, or adding gutter guards, is a great way to freshen up your home’s silhouette and invest in equipment that will hold up better over time.

Remove Birds’ Nests

By summertime, most local birds are out of the nest, but they don’t always pick up after themselves! Inspect your roof and gutters for birds’ nests that could clog them up and take care of any leftover debris.

Fall Gutter Maintenance

Trim Nearby Trees

Before those autumn leaves start to fall, trim any nearby trees to reduce the risk of dropping leaves into your gutters. Future you will be thankful!

Clean Out Leaves

Throughout the fall, set aside some time to clean out leaves from your gutters so they don’t pile up and lead to clogs.

Winter Gutter Maintenance

Remove Snow Buildup

Snow buildup can weigh down your gutters, leading to clogs, dents, and even separation from the siding. Clean any snow off of your gutters periodically to make sure they don’t get damaged by winter weather. Follow our winter gutter cleaning guide for cleaning and safety tips.

Prevent Ice Dams

Ice dams are a gutter system’s worst nightmare, so make sure to stop them in their tracks when it starts to get cold out. Flush out your gutters and downspouts of any existing debris, and consider installing heat cables to melt snow and ice down the drain.

Disconnect Rain Barrels

rain barrel in a garden
Photo Credit: Ian Mackenzie / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

If your gutters and downspouts route to a rain barrel, it’s important to disconnect it in the winter. Rain barrel contents often freeze in the wintertime, causing ice backups into the downspout that can cause permanent damage.

FAQ About Gutter Maintenance

What is the most common problem with gutters?

The most common problem with gutters is clogging, which can lead to reduced water flow, roof damage, and gutter damage.

Are gutter guards really worth it?

Gutter guards can greatly reduce the risk of clogs and gutter damage. Consider installing them in the summer when there’s less rainfall. 

What are some signs that your gutters need to be replaced?

Rust, cracks, and standing water are a few major signs your gutters need to be replaced.

Go With The Flow and Hire a Pro

When it comes to gutter maintenance, it’s always easier – and safer! – to get care from a properly trained gutter technician. A gutter tech can help you keep your gutters clean, install new gutters and equipment, and even paint your gutters if you’re looking for a makeover! Contact a local gutter professional today to get the hands-on help you need.

Main Photo Credit: Lex20 / Canva Pro / License

Annie Parnell

Originally from the Washington, D.C., area, Annie Parnell is a freelance writer and audio producer based in Richmond, Virginia. She is passionate about gardening, outdoor recreation, sustainability, and all things music and pop culture.

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