Fall: A Time for Beautiful Leaves, Crisp Morning Air, & Cleaning Your Gutters!
Unclogging and cleaning gutters
Gutters reroute the flow of water in and around one’s home, but can easily become clogged by leaves and debris flowing along with the rushing rainwater. To combat this it is essential to regularly unclog one’s gutters before and after a heavy rain so that water can flow freely without obstruction. Bring a rake and a green bin, because it can get messy.
Cleaning gutters so that they don’t freeze
Cleaning gutters is also essential to protecting the longevity of the gutters as well as preserving their use. In colder areas gutters might crack when backed-up water freezes in the recesses of the gutters, aggravating the problems with one’s gutters. In addition, when gutters don’t work properly, water can be inadvertently directed to your home’s foundation, causing costly damage to your basement and foundation.
Cleaning gutters usually means working on a ladder
- To get high enough to clean your gutters, you will be working from a ladder, so ladder safety should be your most important consideration when cleaning gutters.
- Always place your ladder on a stable, level area and if possible have someone hold the ladder to make sure it doesn't slip.
- An extension ladder works best since it will reach up above the level of your roof line. Place the ladder against the gutter (make sure the gutter doesn't get damaged by putting a small piece of wood (like a short piece of 2" X 4") inside.
- A couple of safety rules you should always follow when working from a ladder are:]
- Never reach out too far to the left or right (make sure the middle of your chest stays inside the sides of the ladder)
- Never climb on or work from the top two rungs.
Cleaning your gutters
- Cleaning gutters is a messy job so prepare properly. Wear sturdy, leather work gloves to protect your hands and it's a good idea to protect your eyes by wearing safety glasses.
- Start by positioning your ladder at a low spot of your gutter (usually at a downspout) then scrape out the built up accumulation up of leaves, twigs, seeds and bird droppings. The work gloves should protect your hands or you could also use a garden trowel that fits inside the gutter.
- Drop the debris onto the ground as you work (it's easy to rake it up when the job's done) or carry a plastic garbage bag up with you and put it in there.
- Work your way along the gutter from the low end towards the higher end, always climbing down and moving the ladder, making sure not to reach out too far, as you work your way along.
- The debris is easiest to remove when it's just damp (not soaking wet or dried out), so if it hasn't rained in a few days when you decide it's time to clean your gutters, spraying a little water on your roof before starting to clean your gutters will make your job easier.
- After you've removed most of the debris, flush your gutters with water from your garden hose to rinse away any left behind.
- If water won't drain through your downspout, it may have been blocked with built up debris. A plumber’s snake run up from the bottom should be clear the blockage.
A final word of caution
- If you're not comfortable with heights or working from a ladder, hire a professional to clean your gutters. It may cost a few dollars, but your health and safety is worth it.