Fall leaves can be a big hassle for homeowners. Just when you get done it seems like it’s time to get back out there. Plus, the leaves don’t just fall on the ground — they work their way against fences under decks and into your gutters.
That last one is a fall home maintenance chore that you’ll want to stay on top of — you’ll thank yourself if there’s a lot of snow this winter. Why? Because clogged gutters can lead to ice dams, which bring a whole host of other problems.
Here are some helpful tricks and safety concerns to remember before setting out to clean your gutters.
- Choose Wisely: For a single-story home, a four-legged, eight-foot stepladder should suffice. For a two-story home, an extension ladder will be needed. It is important to make sure you feel comfortable with the ladder, its height, weight, and stability before you get started.
- Keep It Level: Your ladder should be placed on level, firm ground. If the ground near your gutter is soft, then use half-inch plywood as a base to help keep the legs even. Do not attempt to clean your gutters on a windy or wet day.
- Protect Yourself: You may think you’re just dealing with leaves, but your gutters can have small stones, mud, silt, animal feces, pine cones and a whole host of debris in them. Play it safe and use thick, waterproof gloves for the best protection.
- Work with a Buddy: Having someone secure the ladder while you are on it is best. Ask a neighbor or friend for help, and in return you can assist them. A second set of hands is very helpful in handing your equipment, plus it allows you to keep two feet and one hand on the ladder for three-point stability.
- Get the Scoop: A gutter scoop is a great tool to help you remove the large debris from your gutters. It is easily operated and allows you to remain safely on the ladder while protecting the gutter from being gouged or punctured.
- Give’ Em the Hose: A garden hose with a spray trigger attachment works great for cleaning the gutter of small debris once you have finished with the big stuff. Remember to spray toward the downspout. If your gutter drains into the street, remove the elbow joint to avoid clogging that may occur underground.
- The Eyes Have It: Or they will, unless you wear protective goggles. Protection is a must to keep your eyes safe at all times. Your gutters house a collection of bacteria from birds and other animal species, not to mention dirt, grit and more. You do not want any of that to surprise you and squirt in your eye.
- Rubber Rules: Always wear rubber-soled shoes for your best grip on the rungs or steps of any ladder.
These are just a few tips and tricks to make sure cleaning your gutters goes smoothly. The biggest tip to remember is to use common sense. If a tool slips off the ladder, let it go. Don’t go scrambling after it, and never stretch too far in any direction (especially if it means you only have one foot on the ladder). Finally, if the task seems too daunting or your roof is too steep, hire a licensed professional.
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