Secret to Cleaning Eavestroughs
Cleaning the eavestroughs is an important part of the spring and fall maintenance process at the cottage. It’s normally a nasty job, but we figured out a way to make it easy!
How to clean the cottage eavestroughs
Clogged gutter risks
Eavestroughs constantly fill up with leaves, sticks, pine cones, pine needles, and pieces of shingles from the cottage roof. Leaving them clogged is not an option, as rainwater and snow runoff are unable to flow out of the drains in the proper way. Over time, this can cause serious damage to the roof, siding, facia, or foundation of the building.
In addition, the vegetation that sits in the eavestrough can attract a variety of unwanted guests. Mosquitoes love to breed in the stagnant water, and other insects find the leaves and sticks to be an ideal place to call home. Birds might also decide to nest in an eavestrough that is full of debris.
Unfortunately, it is a quick hop out of the gutter and into the roof or attic for any of the critters that discover the eavestrough is a great place to live.
The common technique for cleaning out the eavestroughs involves a ladder, two buckets, and a messy few hours of scooping the sludge out by hand. One bucket is used to collect the leaves and muck, and the other serves to hold the gardening tools you might need. If you are lucky, you might be able to wait until the debris is dry, and avoid the worst part of the job.
Start by cleaning out the leaves around the hole to the downspout and work your way backwards along the eavestrough. Be sure to wear work gloves to avoid cutting you fingers or tearing a nail. Always wear safety glasses, as well, and find someone to hold the ladder in place.
Avoid reaching too far, as this can cause the ladder to fall. It’s a pain to get down and move the ladder a couple of feet every few minutes, but safety is priority number one at the cottage.
Once the majority of the leaves and sticks are removed, there might be some dirt or fine pieces of shingle left in the bottom of the eavestrough. At this point, simply use a hose to flush the gutter clean. If the downspout it clogged, try to use the hose to blow out the blockage, first from above, and then from the ground level if it is still clogged. If that doesn’t work, you might have to resort to a drum auger, or in severe cases, a sewer jetter attached to a power washer.
Last year we decided to try the leaf blower to clean out the eavestroughs and it worked like a charm, even when the gutters were wet. Now, to be clear, this might not be feasible for all cabins. Our roof is relatively flat, so we are able to walk along the edge and quickly blow out the eavestroughs. Overall, it probably saved two hours of work.
The leaf blower you see below is much lighter than the one we have and certainly more affordable.
The bottom line
Cottage ownership requires constant maintenance, there’s just no way to avoid it, but a bit of time spent on a regular basis can save us a lot of money down the road. Once in a while, we get lucky and find an easier way to get the job done.
Written and photographed by: Andrew Walker