A seasonal chore for every homeowner is gutter cleaning. It’s not the nicest thing to do, but it is necessary for proper home maintenance. It’s important because clogged gutters can cause a host of problems, such as:
* Insect infestations (they will make their homes and nests in the gutter debris)
* Sagging, collapsing gutters
* Unstable foundation due to rainwater running off the side of the house
* Mold and mildew in the house
* Leaking roof
Hiring professionals can get pricey, but it’s not too hard to clean your gutters yourself. If you have an area of your eaves that cannot be reached by a free-standing ladder, however, then you should hire a professional, at least for that area.
Here are some tips for cleaning out your gutters, including safety tips.
1. The right ladder
To clean out your gutters, you’ll need a ladder. But it’s important for safety’s sake that you choose a free-standing, A-shaped ladder, not the type that leans up against something. A leaning ladder cannot be supported when you lean it against gutters; you may take down the gutters and get badly injured in the process. The exception is leaning a ladder against a sturdy surface (not the gutters) and working from there.
Make sure you wear gloves. In fact, you may be able to perform the whole operation with just a pair of thick gloves. Gloves protect your hands from bacteria, sharp sticks and thorns, insect bites and stings, and other unpleasant things lurking in the gutter debris. Your gloved hand can act as a scoop, and you can just remove the debris that way.
In addition to gloves, you may want a gutter scoop. Measure your gutters before buying one so you make sure you get the right size. A garden trowel can work, too.
4. Pressure washers
You can use a pressure washer or pressurized attachment on your garden hose to “blast” out the debris in your gutters. Beware, though, that this can make a pretty big mess. Speaking of mess…
What do you do with the debris as you scoop it out? If you have a compost pile or bin, the debris from your gutters can make a wonderful addition. Just let the debris hit the ground as you go, then rake it up and toss it in the compost. You could also toss the debris into a yard waste bag as you go.
Sometimes, you’ll run into a clogged downspout. If this happens, a pressure washer can usually flush out the clog. If you need more heavy-duty un-clogging action, you can use a sink auger. If you don’t have either of these, you can locate the clog by tapping on the downspout until it makes a tapping sound rather than an echoing “boom” sound. Fill the downspout with water, then tap the downspout where the clog is. Keep tapping and see if that, combined with the weight of the water above it, causes it to flush itself out.
Once you finish the gutter cleaning you can relax until the next change of seasons and know that you have helped your house stay in good shape.