How To Pressure Wash Gutters
Gutters get clogged, it’s a fact of life, every year you have to clean your guttering out. There are a few ways to clear the gutters, and none of them are easy or much fun. They all involve climbing a ladder and getting dirty.
Unless you own a pressure washer, then it’s an easy task, and it’s fun too. Let’s face it using a pressure washer to clean anything is fun. But gutters are so easy and it’s so satisfying to watch all that dirt and debris flying out of the gutter.
The Safest Way To Clean A Gutter With A Pressure Washer
Before you reach for the ladder, we’d like to explain a couple of things to save you from injury. First, it’s the power of the pressure washer. We’re not going to get into all that electric vs petrol debate, or comparing the pros and cons of different powered pressure washers. All we will say is, even a lower-powered electric pressure washer, has an average of 2000 PSi.
That’s more than enough force to knock you from the ladder if you’re not concentrating on holding on. And let’s be real here if you’re having fun with the pressure washer, you’re definitely not concentrating on staying on the ladder. But, for the price of a decent bottle of wine, you can buy a lance with extension bars and a gutter attachment.
This allows you to stand with both feet firmly on the ground, and clean the gutter using the pressure washer. So, you have the attachments, you’ve got the pressure washer prepared, let’s get into cleaning the gutter safely.
First, Some General Safety Tips
Before starting on the gutters, let’s make sure we do it safely, there won’t be much cleaning going on if you end up in the hospital due to an easy to prevent accident. Before pressure washing the gutters always:
- Cover up
The power of pressurised water can cause serious injury, always wear long-sleeved shirts, long trousers, boots or closed-toe shoes, gloves, and goggles.
- Protect electrics
Any fuse boxes, vents, alarm systems, A/C units, power sockets etc should be covered with plastic sheeting to prevent water damage.
- Clear a path
You’re going to be walking around the edge of your house, looking up at the gutter. The last thing you need is to be tripping over any obstacles that could have been moved. Anything like toys, tools, garden furniture, cables, hoses, pot plants or any other trip hazard should be moved to create a clear pathway for you to walk along.
- Cover plants
Any plants that are growing in the soil and cannot be moved, should be covered with plastic sheeting, old blankets, or cloths, to protect from detergent or spray damage. Water the soil around any plants to dilute any detergent runoff.
- Start with the lowest pressure
Pressure washers work by blasting the surface with high-powered water, always start with the lowest pressure possible and increase if needed. This lowers the risk of any damage.
How To Clean The Gutters With A Pressure Washer
If this is the first time of cleaning the gutters using a pressure washer, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how quick and easy it is. To pressure wash the guttering safely follow our step by step guide.
- Connect the attachments
Attach the extension or telescopic wand to the pressure washer hose. This gives you the height you need to clean the gutters without using a ladder. Adjust the wand length to reach your guttering, then add the gutter cleaning attachment to the telescopic wand. This is a U shaped pipe that aims the water-jet directly into the gutter.
- Rinse the gutters
Starting at the downpipes, remove as much dirt and debris as you can. Once the downpipes are clear, work the pressurised water along the length of the guttering.
- Connect the detergent hose
Once the gutter has been thoroughly rinsed, it’s time to use detergent to clean that hard and fast stuck-on dirt. Wash the whole of the gutter including the downpipes with detergent.
- Rinse the detergent away
Disconnect the detergent hose, and rinse the whole guttering. Now the detergent has loosened all of the dirt, it should easily wash away with the soap suds. The remaining dirt and soap suds will flow down the downpipe and that’s the guttering clean.
- Tidy up
Clear all of the fallen debris from around your house, using the broom attachment on the pressure washer will make short work of this.
Why Do Gutters Get Blocked?
The reason gutters get blocked is the very reason they collect water. It’s the shape of the gutter that causes the problem. The half-pipe shaping is great for collecting and transporting rainwater that falls from the sky and drips from the roof. Unfortunately, it’s also great for trapping any leaves, moss, dirt and debris – which eventually causes a blockage.
Moss is a particularly bad problem it grows on the roof and in hot weather, it dries out, when dry it falls into the guttering where it stays until it rains. Once moss forms in the gutter it creates almost a dam where dirt and debris collect and cause a blockage. This can get so bad that grass and other weed seeds land on it and grow.
Before you know it, you have a gutter lawn. This can lead to all sorts of problems with the house.
What Happens If Blocked Gutters Are Neglected?
The first problem will be rainwater overflow. This can cause damage to fascias, soffits, wooden window sills, and walls. When winter comes and it snows, the blocked gutter gets covered with snow. The extra weight causes the gutter to break and in the worst-case scenario fall to the ground.
Once the snow melts, all that water will run from the roof straight down the walls leading to damp, mould and mildew problems. Plus the added expense and hassle of replacing the guttering.
When Should You Clean The Guttering?
Guttering should be cleaned at least once a year, more if you are overlooked by tall trees or live on a busy road. The best time of year to clean gutters is late autumn, once the trees have shed their leaves and before the winter sets in. If you are surrounded by pine trees, you might need to clean the gutters more frequently, as pine needles are infamous for blocking gutters.
How Much Pressure Do You Need To Clean Gutters?
This is an excellent question, as many sites and handyman videos advise using 3000 PSi and more in some cases. This is not only unnecessary but can also cause damage to the guttering. We would recommend using no more than 1500 PSi to clean gutters with a pressure washer and less if possible. Remember the guttering is usually made from some form of plastic, which isn’t very strong when new, let alone after years of being subject to UV rays from the sun, harsh winds and freezing temperatures.
Before pressure washing the gutters, test a small inconspicuous area first to be sure the water pressure won’t cause any damage. Plastics can chip, scratch or break under high-pressure water spray. It’s better to let this happen where it won’t cause a major problem than on the gutter where it’ll cost time and money to repair or replace.
Pressure Washer Gutter Cleaning Attachments
There are many attachments for pressure washers to make tasks easier. When it comes to cleaning gutters they’ve really come up with some helpful equipment. Let’s have a look at the best of the bunch.
- Telescopic lance
Extends to 6 metres (20 feet) and perfect for pressure washing the guttering. No need to climb a ladder, just extend the telescopic lance, attach the gutter cleaning attachment and you can clear any gutter up to 20 foot above you.
- Angled extension wand
This looks like an inverted tick, attach it to the end of the extension wand and clean the gutters with ease. Also useful for cleaning under car chassis and anywhere with awkward to reach places.
- Kärcher 20 m Pipe and Guttering Cleaning Kit
This is designed for use with the K2 to K7 pressure washers by Kärcher. It’s basically a 20-metre pipe which is connected on one end to the pressure washer, and the other end is connected to a sledge type device. You place it into the gutter, operate the pressure washer, and it glides along the length of the gutter under its own power. It has 2 different settings, one is a single jet for cleaning gutters. The other is a 4 jet spray along the entire body of the sledge that is used for clearing drainage pipes.
- Extension wands and gutter attachment
This comes as a set, which comprises of 6 wands, and one gutter attachment. They claim it can withstand 4000 PSi which is much more than you’ll ever need to clean a gutter. The only problem with this set is the overall length, with all the wands connected it is only around 8 feet (2.5 metres).
- Twin nozzle gutter wand attachment
This one has 2 nozzles so it blasts both ways at once. There are some situations where this might be useful but not always.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can use a pressure washer to clean your gutters. Using a gutter wand attachment will make the job easier. Be sure not to use too high pressure (1600 PSi and below).
You can power wash your gutters, use a gutter wand attachment and an extension lance and keep the pressure below 1600 PSi.
You can clean your gutters without using a ladder by using a pressure washer with a gutter attachment. Or by using an extendable pole with a gutter scraper attached.
Gutters with gutter guards do need to be cleaned. The gutter guard can get blocked with debris and the gutter can get blocked with leaves even with a gutter guard. Especially pine leaves they are thin enough to get through the gutter guard and block the gutter.
You should clean your gutters in whatever month autumn falls in your part of the world. Allow the leaves to fall from the trees then clean the gutters to prevent blockage from rain and snow.
You should clean your gutters at least once a year, more if you have lots of trees around your property.
Gutters can be cleaned in winter but it’s not ideal. It’s best to clean gutters in autumn but if you never got around to it they can be cleaned in winter.