Fall leaves can be a big hassle for homeowners. Raking the leaves is the easy part but what about your gutters? Here are the best tips for cleaning your gutters and helpful safety advice.
Why Should You Clean Your Gutters
Gutters are an important part of your house. Your house’s gutter system channels water away from your home’s foundation. When gutters become clogged with leaves and other debris, they can’t effectively redirect water. Instead of draining out in a safe place, water will pool up on your roof.
This will flood back into your house, and can cause serious damage. In the winter, ice dams can form and be even more destructive.
Gutters also help keep water from eroding the landscaping of your house, and even protect the foundation from water damage over time. This also helps reduce the chance of basement flooding.
When to Clean Your Gutters
The best time to clean your gutters is before the snowy and rainy seasons. You’ll notice your gutters start to clog up after the fall leaves drop. A good habit is to create a fall home maintenance checklist, cleaning your gutters in November, when most of the trees have shed their leaves.
Early spring is the next time you should take a look at your gutters. Winter weather may have shed some debris like dead leaves and twigs. This ensures your gutters are ready to handle rain showers.
How Often to Clean Your Gutters
You should clean your gutters at least 2-3 times a year. You may need to clean more often if you live in an area with a lot of trees.
Another good time to check your gutters is after a storm. Heavy winds and precipitation can cause debris to build up in your gutters.
Gutter Cleaning Safety Tips: How to Clean Gutters
The best way to clean your gutters is to hire a professional. However, if you want to do it yourself the actual cleaning is straightforward. However, there are several safety considerations you should be aware of as you prepare to clean your gutters.
Always use a ladder to reach your gutters- never lean out of an open window or crawl on the roof. 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.
Make sure you can get high enough to see what you’re doing. If you’re using an extension ladder, never stand on the top four rungs, and never step on the top two rungs of a stepladder. The top rungs of a ladder are typically narrower and less stable.
Your ladder should be placed on level, firm ground. Do not attempt to clean your gutters on a windy or wet day.
You may think you’re just dealing with leaves, but your gutters can have small stones, mud, silt, animal feces, pine cones and other 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 for handing you 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’s easy to use and allows you to remain safely on the ladder. A scoop keeps you from accidentally gouging or puncturing the gutter as you’re working on it.
Get the Hose
A garden hose with a spray trigger attachment works great for cleaning out small debris. Remember to spray toward the downspout. If your gutter drains into the street, remove the elbow joint to avoid clogging that may occur underground.
While hoses are great for cleaning gutters, pressure washers are not. The high-pressure water can damage your gutter system or even dislodge them from their brackets.
The Eyes Have It
Protection is a must to keep your eyes safe at all times. Your gutters house a collection of bacteria from birds and other animals, not to mention dirt, grit and more. You do not want any of that to surprise you and get in your eye.
Wear rubber-soled shoes for the best grip on the rungs or steps of any ladder. Only wear shoes that lace up- never go on a ladder with sandals or slip-on shoes.
How to Clean Gutters Without a Ladder
If you can’t go up on a ladder or if the gutters are too high, the best way to clean a gutter without a ladder is to hire a professional. A professional will also have the knowledge and experience to spot potential problems with your gutter system.
If you prefer to clean your gutters yourself, you can purchase an extending gutter cleaning tool. These are poles that have a curved end to scoop out debris. Make sure that the extension is long enough to reach your gutters comfortably.
Gutters are an essential part of your home. Regular maintenance will help protect your home from water related issues for years to come. Cleaning your gutters is a cheap and easy preventative measure from costly repairs.