How to Prepare Your Gutters for Fall

Posted by
Cameron Wise on May 22, 2023

When autumn rolls around, the beauty of colorful leaves can quickly turn into the headache of water damage due to clogged gutters and downspouts. When this occurs, not only are your gutters unpleasant to look at, but the structural integrity of your home may be at risk as well. To properly accommodate the challenges autumn presents your roof, your gutters must be prepared before the leaves begin to fall. Below you can find steps on how to properly prepare your gutters for the fall months and why following these steps is important in maintaining the health of your home.

Why do I need to prepare my gutters for fall?

If gutters are not properly prepared for autumn, your home’s roof, foundation, downspouts, and gutters risk damage. When gutters clog, rainwater is unable to flow to their exit point through the gutters and downspouts. The proper exit points for rainwater are typically either a lawn or city stormwater system. However, clogged gutters cause water to overflow and pool beneath a home’s roofline. When water pools underneath gutters, it flows down into a home’s foundation. Over time, water can cause cracks in the foundation, leading to instability in the structure of a home. The damage that can be caused by a cracked foundation is catastrophic, dangerous, and, of course, extremely expensive.

What do I need to prepare my gutters for fall?

To properly prepare your gutters for fall, you will need the following items:

  • Ladder
  • Gutter scoop
  • Downspout filters (if not already installed)
  • Garden hose
  • Gloves
  • Safety goggles

While cleaning your gutters may seem like a safe job, sharp debris, screws, and other metallic objects can damage your eyes and hands. To prevent injury during gutter preparation, thick gloves and safety goggles are highly recommended.

Steps to prepare your gutters for fall

Fortunately, the physical and financial damage gutter clogs cause are easily avoidable. When proper equipment is installed and an appropriate maintenance schedule is followed, a home’s gutter and downspout system can flow efficiently and regularly. To ensure your home’s gutters are prepared for the fall months, follow the steps below.

1.  Inspect your gutters

You can inspect your gutters before, during, or after cleaning is done. Check for any cracks, splits, corrosion, or any other damage to your roof or gutters. If you notice any signs of damage to your gutters, have them repaired sooner rather than later. These systems can experience great stress during rainy seasons, particularly when leaves are in the mix.

damaged gutters

2.  Clean your gutters

A gutter system should be washed and rinsed before Autumn leaves, twigs, and other debris begin to fill it. Start by clearing large chunks of debris from the gutters. If possible, you want to collect all debris that is large enough to clog your downspouts. Once the gutters are clear, rinse the system with a garden hose. Do not use a pressure washer on gutters or downspouts, as it can cause the systems to break from their mounts. Begin flushing at the furthest point from a downspout opening, ensuring all surface area of the gutters gets rinsed. If the gutter does not drain or drains slowly, you likely have a clog in a downspout. If you have filters installed into your downspouts, check if the filter media is clogged. If the filter media is clean and the downspout remains clogged, you may need to disassemble the downspout and flush it. Once the gutters are clean, inspect them once more for cracks and other damage.

3.  Install or inspect downspout filters

Proper downspout filters are essential in regulating water flow through your gutters and downspouts. Check for any debris in your downspout filters and the downspouts themselves. To avoid possible contamination of your downspouts, make sure that your gutters are clean before you clear your downspouts of debris.

If you do not have filters installed in your downspouts, adding filters to your downspout system will prevent blockages that cause pooling above your foundation. Downspout filters come in multiple configurations. Some filters are installed at the opening of the downspout in the gutters, while others are located in the downspouts themselves. The type of downspout filter you choose should be able to manage the most common debris that flows through your downspouts. For example, trees with thick leaves require different downspout filters than a home with small, thin leaves. Gutter guards, while not technically downspout filters, provide filtration for gutter systems as well.

Learn more: Types of downspout filters

Recommended downspout filters

Leaf Eater Slimline

The Leaf Eater Slimline is a streamlined downspout filter that blends in with your current downspout configuration. It effectively removes debris from your downspout, allowing for maximum water flow to either your rainwater tank or downspout outlet. The Leaf Eater Slimline is an excellent downspout filter for homeowners who wish for easy installation and a sleek design.

Leaf Eater Advanced

The Leaf Eater Advanced works as an effective downspout filter for both tank and tankless rainwater systems. It includes adapters for both 3-inch and 4-inch outlets, and its versatile design allows it to be installed in both vertical and horizontal configurations. Its easy installation, high-efficiency water flow, and superb catchment efficiency make the Leaf Eater Advanced a prime addition to any downspout.

Clean Rain Advanced

The Clean Rain Advanced serves as a downspout filter, first flush diverter, and stormwater overflow in an all-in-one package. The first flush diversion system removes the dirtiest water from your downspout, allowing cleaner water to enter your storage tanks or gardens. With a rotating body, the Clean Rain Advanced can easily install into any downspout system. It also allows multiple outlet connections to make diverting rainwater to multiple locations simple and efficient. For homeowners that want high-efficiency leaf-catching and cleaner rainwater in their storage tanks or gardens, the Clean Rain Advanced is a perfect option.

Downspout filters vs gutter guards

Downspout filters and gutter guards are effective at maintaining water flow through both gutters and downspouts, but they achieve this productivity in different ways. Downspout filters are installed on the interior or entrances of downspouts, while gutter guards cover the gutters themselves. Downspout filters cover significantly less area than gutter guards and are less expensive as a result. The steep price discrepancy causes many homeowners to opt for downspout filters over gutter guards.

Despite their differences, downspout filters and gutter guards are both effective. They are particularly beneficial for homeowners who wish to harvest rainwater. Rainwater harvesting is an excellent method of saving water in applications where potable water is not required. Uses for stored rainwater include washing cars, gardening, and watering a lawn.

Learn more: Rainwater harvesting 101 | Advantages and disadvantages of rainwater harvesting

4.  Clear overhanging branches

Trees experience growth spurts in the spring and summer months. As a result, they may hang over the roofline of your home as fall rolls around. When trees overhang your roof, your home runs the risk of roof damage, gutter clogs, and potential safety concerns if the branches are large enough. Damage is especially likely during the fall and winter, where high winds, ice, and snow can cause limbs to snap and fall. To combat these concerns, trees should be trimmed back far enough that they do not overhang the roofline.

5.  Manage pests

If you notice signs of any pests in your gutter system throughout the prepping process, contact a pest control professional immediately. A coating of rodent repellant may be added to your gutters as a layer of protection. Note that certain pest control procedures may make your rainwater unsafe to harvest for other purposes. If you have concerns about the methods being used to manage critters in your gutters, contact your pest controller to find a solution for your home.

6.  Contact a professional

The most surefire way to guarantee a safe fall season for your gutters is a professional gutter inspection. During a gutter inspection, a professional may spot damages, inefficiencies, or other points of concern. They may also recommend certain protective elements, such as downspout filters or gutter guards.

gutter inspection

7.  Keep an eye on your rainwater harvesting system

If you harvest rainwater in an above-ground tank, keep an eye on outside temperatures as autumn progresses. When the temperature drops below freezing, the water stored inside the tank expands. This can cause cracks in the tank, ultimately ruining your rainwater harvesting system. If you wish to continue using your rain barrel in the fall and winter months, you can wrap the tank in insulation, add a fountain pump to the tank, use a space heater, allow the water to drip overnight, or use an underground storage tank.

Learn more: How to use a rain barrel in the winter



If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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