How to prevent gutters from clogging – 6 expert recommended methods

Protect your home and save money by learning these simple methods to prevent gutters from clogging

How to prevent gutters from clogging
(Image credit: Urban Front)

Clogged gutters can be a hassle. If left unchecked, they can result in water damage to your home's foundations, basement flooding, roof leaks and potential structural damage. So, engaging in preventative measures is the best way to protect your home and save money in the long-term.

Regardless of your roof type or local climate, incorporating these expert strategies into your gutter cleaning routine can proactively prevent clogs and ensure the longevity and efficiency of your gutter system. 

 How to prevent gutters from clogging

Whether you are reinforcing your draining system, preparing your home for fall or reinforcing gutters before and after storms, a combination of these steps can be the most effective way to keep your gutters clear.

1. Regular maintenance is key

'Cleaning is the most basic but crucial step,' says Josh Riutta, owner of Mikku and
Sons Roofing. 'Aim to clean your gutters twice a year, especially before and after peak leaf-shedding seasons.' The best time to clean your gutters is ideally in the spring and fall.

'Scoop out debris like leaves, twigs, and even animal nests,' continues Josh. 'This prevents the build-up of materials that can lead to clogs. Use a ladder and safety equipment for safe access'.

Kim Abrams, CEO of Abrams Roofing recommends: 'Use a hose to flush out remaining debris after cleaning the gutters. This step helps identify any blockages and ensures that water flows freely through the system. Alternatively, you can hire a professional who will have specialized tools for an in-depth job'.

While cleaning, check for any damage or the sources of clogging issues. This may help you determine if you need to add any reinforcements to prevent further clogging.

Headshot of Josh Riutta, owner of Mikku and Sons Roofing
Josh Riutta

Josh Riutta is a professional roofer and the owner of Mikku and Sons Roofing: a family operated roofing company that has been providing professional roof repair and installation services in the Phoenix and Maricopa County area since 2001. 

2. Install gutter guards

A gutter on roof full of leaves

(Image credit: Getty Images)

'For homes surrounded by trees, installing leaf-proof gutters may be helpful,' says Kim Abrams. 'These would usually have small covers or screens over the downspouts to trap leaves and pine needles before they end up in the gutters. Just be sure to clean out the screens during your regular maintenance.' 

There are various types of gutter guards, including mesh screens, foam guards, and surface tension units, each with its pros and cons. Be sure to choose a mesh size that balances debris filtering with water flow. 

We recommend these A-M gutter guard, from Amazon. You could also invest in some leaf diverter shields – such as these from Amazon– as they divert leaves off the roof before they reach the gutters.

3. Look for low spots

'Over time, gutters can sag in certain spots and allow debris to pool instead of flowing freely to the downspouts,' explains Kim Abrams. 'Look out for such spots and reinforce these areas to maintain a proper slope and good drainage.'

4. Trim trees near your home

'Overhanging branches can drop leaves and twigs directly into your gutters. Regularly trimming back these branches can significantly reduce the amount of debris that ends up in the gutters,' explains Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal.

Additionally, when planting your trees, be sure to consider the species. 'Choose trees that shed minimally or have light, airy leaves that pass through gutters easily,' recommends Josh Riutta.

Headshot of Gene Caballero, Co-Founder of GreenPal
Gene Caballero

Gene Caballero is a landscaping professional and Co-Founder of GreenPal: an online market place connecting homeowners with lawn mowing professionals in Nashville, Tennessee. 

5. Ensure proper gutter alignment

For efficient water flow and drainage, check the slope and alignment of your gutters.

'Gutters should be aligned correctly with a slight slope towards downspouts for efficient water flow,' explains Gene Caballero. 'This helps to prevent water from pooling in certain areas, which can contribute to clogs.'

4. Install downspout strainers

Downspout strainers or filters are also effective in preventing debris from entering the downspouts, and they're cheap.

We recommend these gutter guards, from Amazon. These simple additions can be instrumental in minimizing clogs and ensuring proper water drainage.

5. Have your roof inspected

gray roof of house

(Image credit: Getty images / Ratchat)

'Debris from your roofing material, such as shingles, can also contribute to gutter clogging,' explains Shlomo Cherniak, owner of Cherniak Home Services. 'To prevent this, have your roof inspected regularly to ensure it is in good condition and that no shingles are falling off.'

Headshot of Shlomo Cherniak, owner of Cherniak Handyman
Shlomo Cherniak

Shlomo Cherniak is a professional handyman and owner of Cherniak Home Services. He has years of experience undertaking household DIY tasks and renovations, from hanging shelves to remodelling kitchens. 

6. Conduct periodic inspections

Periodically inspect your gutters, especially after storms or high winds, to ensure they are clear and undamaged. Look for signs of sagging, loose brackets, damaged sections, or detachment, as these can impede proper water flow.

'Heavy rain tends to wash a lot of debris into the gutter system and can lead to clogs if left unchecked,' says Kim Abrams. 'You should clear it out within a day or two to prevent such debris clogs.'

Be sure to promptly repair any issues to maintain the integrity of the gutter system.


How can you prevent ice build up in gutters?

In colder climates, ice buildup can exacerbate clogging issues. To prevent this issue, you can incorporate heated gutter systems, comprising heating cables or panels. This can prevent ice dams from forming and keep the gutters clear during winter. 

Consider introducing downspout augmentations to enhance your gutter's resilience against clogs. Channeling water effectively minimizes debris accumulation to help prevent gutter clogging. 'This also helps to direct downspout water away from your foundation to prevent erosion and moisture issues,' says Josh Riutta from Mikku and Sons Roofing. This downspout extension from Amazon would work. 

Paying regular attention to your gutter health and performing upkeep and maintenance tasks not only protects your home's foundation and structure but also contributes to the overall aesthetics and functionality of your property.

Lola Houlton
News writer

Lola Houlton is a news writer for Homes & Gardens. She has been writing content for Future PLC for the past six years, in particular Homes & Gardens, Real Homes and GardeningEtc. She writes on a broad range of subjects, including practical household advice, recipe articles, and product reviews, working closely with experts in their fields to cover everything from heating to home organization through to house plants. Lola is a graduate, who completed her degree in Psychology at the University of Sussex. She has also spent some time working at the BBC.