How to Clean Enclosed Gutters On Carports And Houses


No one likes a clogged gutter and all the problems that come with it, from water damage to pest infestations. So now and then, we have to get our hands dirty. But what do you do when you have gutter guards? How about a carport or mobile home gutter system? Here’s how to clean an enclosed gutter.

Cleaning enclosed or covered gutters on mobile homes, carports, and houses is easy with machines and tools like shop-vacs, garden hoses, leaf blowers, and even rakes. Due to the tight spaces these offer, forced air or water are your best bet for clearing debris.

Before you start cleaning your gutter, there are tools you need. Some are essential, while others are more about convenience. Regardless, it would be best if you got your tools and supplies in order. I will be talking about methods we have used over the years and these tools here.

How Do You Clean Carport Gutters Or Mobile Home Gutters?

Carports, mobile homes, and awnings are instances where you might find originally designed enclosed gutters that are meant to deter leaves and debris from entering. Any of us that have had to clean these know that all types of material finds its way to the inside of these eventually.

Using tools like shop-vacs, garden hoses, rakes, and leaf blowers make cleaning carport or mobile home gutters doable even when the opening to get to the debris is narrow or sharp. Blowing, sucking, or pushing out the debris sometimes is the best or only way as opposed to reaching in and scooping.

Though these enclosed gutters do prolong the time between needed service and cleaning, the downside is the hassle it becomes to get to the material you are wanting to get out. The design of the gutter system inadvertently keeps us out as well!

Like with other small gutter systems, using the right tools can make the job exponentially less annoying and sometimes can help get the job done where just using your hands could be impossible. Carports and awnings don’t always have gutter systems, but those that do tend to be much smaller and even enclosed.

Here are some of the tips and tricks we have used over the years to get to the leaves, sticks, and other things that can get lodged in them over time.

The problem with carport, awning, and some types of mobile home gutters is that you sometimes can’t come at them from above like climbing onto a roof allows with normal house gutters.

Though some roof gutter systems are nearly identical to those found on ancient castles and homes, today there are many advances already in their design and many to come in the future. In an article published in the journal Building Services Engineering Research And Technology, PhDs and researchers outline these advances and their uses.

Some gutter systems are enclosed for necessity and some are due to preference. Whatever your case, there are several tools you can use to help.

Shop Vacs

Shop-vacs with can be invaluable, especially smaller versions that you can hoist up with you onto a stepladder. The smaller or thinner nozzles and attachments are best.

These can get in enough through the slight openings to suck out much of the debris that has collected in the gutter. This is more useful once the leaves have dried and before other debris has adhered to the surfaces as it tends to do over time.

The suction and the ability of these useful tools to pass larger objects through their systems can make short work of your carport gutters.

Here is a small shop-vac I would recommend on Amazon.

Garden Hoses

If your downspout is large enough and short enough that washing the debris with forced water down them won’t be a problem, using your garden hose with an attachment that adds force to the stream can be a good solution.

We usually did this at least a couple times per year at each home or business that we had contracts to care for gutter maintenance. We termed it gutter cleaning instead of gutter clearing. This would remove rough debris that could be a catch-all for other material.

You will need a fairly good hose, spray handle, and water pressure for this to work well. It doesn’t have to be like a pressure washer, though I have seen some crews use just that. Though it does have to have a good amount of pressure to break up clogs and move wet debris.

Leaf Rakes

Now, some may be thinking, “If I can’t get my hand or hand tool down into these enclosed tight spaces, how in the world am I supposed to use a leaf rake?”

I have on occasion run into a stick, acorn, or other hard object that acted like a dam in the gutter. Until I removed it, there was a backup of debris. Sometimes it take only one or two of the tines of a flexible leaf rake inserted near the obstruction to get it to release and move along.

Where your stiff garden trowel or spade can’t fit, maybe these flexible tines on a leaf rake can.

Leaf Blowers

This next one is over and above my favorite for clearing leaves from gutters, covered or not. Granted it is not as effective with covers on the gutters, but with persistence it can work well.

I like blowing out the leaves from the top of a step ladder for lighter weight roofs and from on top of the roof for sturdier ones. This wonderous machines make quick work of dry leaves and debris.

All you need is the right angle of attack and leaves go flying.

It must be said though, that though dry material is much easier to move and clear, if it is wet or even damp, this solution loses effectiveness exponentially.

Here are some other articles you will enjoy about leaves and gutters…

How Do You Clean Gutters Without Removing Gutter Guards?

There are several options when using gutter guards and trying to clean out dead leaves and other material. This depends on the type of guards you use and how accessible the gutters are.

You can clean gutters with gutter guards by removing strategic sections of the gutters allowing debris to escape the air or water flow. The best sections to remove are the ends of long straight runs before a turn and possibly one section in the middle. There is no need to remove the entire guard.

You can use many of the ideas above seeing as full gutter guards work much the same as some of the pre-covered gutter options. The good part is, they are usually attached to gutters that are a bit larger. This gives more room for water or air to stir up the area and agitate the material out.

How to Clean Gutters with a Gutter Guard On

Gutter guards come in various types and can protect your gutter from twigs, leaves, and other debris.  The types include mesh screen gutter guards, reverse-curve gutter guards, perforated gutter guards, gutter guards with foam blocks, and gutter guards with brushes.

Cleaning gutters with gutter guards left on can be done with forced air or water and removing small sections to allow debris to escape. If a suction device like a shop-vac is also available, removing strategic sections to suck out the material makes cleanup a breeze.

Note that usually the more structured and expensive your guard is, the less effort it will take for you to maintain your gutter. This is not always the case though, and I have a very inexpensive solution that I personally use and have used on countless client gutter downspouts. But more on that later.

However, having gutter guards does not exempt you from cleaning your gutter when the time comes. Debris still finds its way in, around, and on top of a gutter guard. 

You can use the same gutter cleaning method regardless of the type of gutter guard you have. 

Even while using a gutter guard, you should clean your gutter at least twice a year to prevent your channel from clogging.

The best time to clean your gutter is in the fall or spring because debris tends to accumulate during winter.

What Type Of Gutter Guard Would You Not Have To Remove?

As I mentioned before, there is a way to protect from clogs and overflowing water without having to spend tons of money. The added benefit is that you won’t have to deal with large sections of hard to reach gutter interiors.

My inexpensive gutter guard solution: Some of you may have seen these little wire domes that stick out of the tops of downspouts. They are very cost effective and I tell you from years of experience, they protect the downspout (your main objective here) from getting clogged. Here is a link to the ones I use from Amazon.

With this solution you won’t have to worry how you are going to clean the gutters at all, since there is no overall cover. The debris is stopped just before entering the downspout. Much of it is even collected for you for easy blowing, vacuuming, or collecting by hand.

Steps To Cleaning Most Any Covered Gutter

Instead of just stating that you can use a water hose, shop-vac, or leaf blower, it is a simple process to describe and give tips about. So, here goes…

  1. It is a good idea to place a tarp or drop cloth of some kind below where you are cleaning your gutters if it is an area where you don’t want leaves, sticks, or other debris to land.
  2. Using a ladder or stepladder, you can reach your gutters or climb onto the roof. There are extensions to blowers and garden hoses that can reach lower hanging gutters, but you may not be able to reach higher ones and most definitely won’t be able to see inside of the gutters while you work.
  3. Remove the gutter guard at one end of the run you plan on cleaning. Preferably this is where you would also have laid your tarp to catch falling debris.
  4. Using a leaf blower for forced air or a garden hose for water pressure, start at the end farthest away from the section of guard you have removed. Removing this section could be helpful as well in order to get the air or forced water at the proper angle.
  5. Move down the run after the debris resists moving if using a leaf blower, using the air pressure to dislodge any debris through the guards toward the other end. With a hose, you can many times simply push the hose through relatively long lengths of gutters after removing any nozzle.
  6. Once the debris has reach the other end where the guard has been removed, some will have come out on its own. You may have to manually remove or blow out the rest at that spot.
  7. Be sure to protect your downspouts so that no debris falls down into them. This could create clogs either in the downspout or in underground irrigation piping.
  8. Once this run is clean, replace the gutter guard sections and move on to the next area.

The Final Touches On Cleaning Enclosed Gutters…

Cleaning your enclosed gutters on a house, mobile home, awning, or carport can be tricky without the right tools.

Forced air or water many times is your best option. Sometimes removing even sections of your gutter coverings is not an option. In these cases water and a long stiff hose is your best bet.

For those times when you can remove a section at the end of a run of gutter, a leaf blower will do the trick nicely.

Hopefully these ideas from our experience can help you on your next gutter cleaning experience.

Here are some other great articles just for you…

Mathew Booe

Mathew has worked in landscaping professionally for over 10 years. He is a grandpa and frequently interviews other experienced landscapers and lawn care experts who are also grandpas for these articles.

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