Handyman: Keep gutters free of debris to avoid problems

Glenn Haege
Special to The Detroit News

Cleaning the gutters is a popular fall project, and keeping your gutters free of leaves and other debris is vital to ensuring melting snow will drain properly this winter and next spring.

If you have gutter cleaning on your fall to-do list, make sure you clean the entire gutter and the downspout hole, where leaf clogs are common. Check to make sure the downspouts are draining properly by using a hose to spray water in the hole. If the downspout seems clogged, try to free the obstruction with a stick, plumbing snake, or garden hose using a telescoping wand.

You can also disassemble the downspout and remove the clog as a last resort. And remember, a big part of gutter maintenance is making sure your gutters are aligned properly to allow water to drain towards the downspouts, and that your downspouts have extenders to drain the water away from your foundation.

Tired of climbing the ladder to clean your gutters? The iRobot,, Looj gutter cleaner will travel inside your gutters and use its auger to break apart clogs of leaves and debris and toss it to the ground. There are other products on the market that can help keep your gutters free of debris and will minimize the time you have to spend on keeping them clean.

While these gutter protection products will reduce the frequency you have to clean your gutters, they don’t block all dirt and debris from entering them. So it is important to buy a system that will provide the results you want while helping to minimize your need to clean them.

A good place to start when looking for information about gutter protection systems is the National Rain Gutter Contractors Association website at

■Gutter Brush, (888) 397-9433, Gutter Brush features a large bristle brush that comes in five different diameters and fills the gutter so it catches leaves and debris on top of the brush while allowing water to run through it. You can install Gutter Brush yourself and can easily remove it to clean as needed. It comes in 3-foot sections and shorter 18-inch spans, and can be cut to fit any length gutter.

■Rain Flow, (800) 796-4476, The Rain Flow system is made of all-natural fibers coated with UV-stable premium acrylic latex, which fills the entire gutter opening so that nothing but water can get in. It also comes in 3-foot sections and can be cut to fit any length of gutter.

■Flo Free by DCI Products, (800) 622-4455,, is a 3/4- inch thick nylon that covers the complete gutter opening and comes in standard and custom sizes to fit most gutters.

There are also systems that are physically attached under the shingles of the roof, so it is important to make sure the installation of these systems won’t void your shingle manufacturer’s warranty. Gutter Glove, (877) 662-5644,, covers the gutters and is made from a perforated aluminum channel and stainless steel mesh. Also Gutter Helmet, (888) 824-3772,, is made of aluminum and has a textured surface and coating.

While falling leaves will soon be drifting by your window, now is the time to make sure that the rest of them don’t end up clogging your gutters.

For more home improvement advice, call “The Handyman Show With Glenn Haege” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can also be heard on more than 135 radio stations nationwide.