It’s that time of year again. Along with the change from summer to autumn comes the dreaded task of cleaning all those fallen leaves out of your gutters and downspouts. First and foremost, don’t even consider cleaning your own gutters if you’re not confident you can do it safely. Every year thousands of people are seriously injured trying to clean out their gutters, mostly caused from falling from a ladder, so safety is paramount. If you must do it yourself, here are four ways to clear out your gutter gunk.
First, inspect all the spikes that are penetrating the gutters. These run through the fascia boards and into the rafter that are behind them. Over time, these spikes often work their way out of the hole, so it is a good idea to invest in new gutter spikes and re-secure them. You should also look for the cause of any leaks in your gutters or downspouts, including holes or damage. Lastly, inspect the rivets on the downspout in case they have become loose, and then retighten them or replace them.
Image via Flickr by jeffcovey
Now it’s time to clear all the debris out of your gutters. Typically that means putting on a pair of good gloves and scooping it all up by hand. Toss the leaves, pine cones, and sticks into a bucket or onto the ground below. The debris actually makes for a nice compost for plants and soil. If you come across any critters or birds’ nests, try to move them to safety away from your home.
A regular garden hose or pressure washer is an effective way to wash out your gutters once all the debris is removed. It’s also a great way to watch for leaks or other problems. If using a pressure washer, follow the instructions carefully and try to avoid spraying the gutters at too high of an angle, or you could accidentally blow the shingles off the roof.
You should clean your gutters at least three times a year or at the end of every season. This way, it doesn’t become an overwhelming project, and you will get a longer life from your gutters and downspouts. While you’re at it, rake or gently blow off your roof leaves, but be careful not to damage your shingles.
Also, consider investing in gutter guards for your home. Gutter guards act as a shield to prevent harmful debris from falling into your gutters. The gutters will still catch all the rain but are less likely to clog up. With a good gutter guard system, you can cut your gutter maintenance easily in half.
Safety should always be the most important consideration for a responsible homeowner, followed by maintaining your investment in your home, and lastly financial concerns. Eliminating a dangerous job by hiring a professional, even infrequently, improves your quality of life and provides greater peace of mind. You’ll also have more time for other important things, like enjoying time with family and friends, and who doesn’t need more time for that in their life?