Cleaning your home’s gutters is a necessary task, but also one that should be done safely and properly. Learning to do it correctly can save you from costly property damage, as well as life-threatening injuries. Here are 8 valuable tips to help make this task safer and easier.
1.) Clear Debris From the Roof
The first thing to do is clear all the debris off your roof. Whether you rake it off or wash it off, the idea is to keep it from getting into your newly clean gutter and clogging it up again. If that happens, the accumulated water can lead to future problems with roof leaks and erosion.
2.) Beware Power Lines
Working on the roof, you’ll be much closer to dangerous power lines and you might find yourself having to clean around them. Always make a good visual inspection first, to ensure the insulation hasn’t rubbed off from around them. If you see any signs of this, call a professional in to repair the damage before proceeding. Do not attempt to fix it yourself and avoid any further cleaning until the lines are fixed.
3.) Use a Hose
Once you’re sure the power lines are safe, you’ll find that it’s easier to use a garden hose for cleaning. A hose with a pistol-grip trigger works best, since you can adjust the pressure with the same hand. You can also hang it over the edge of the gutter when you need your hands for something else.
4.) Wear Hand and Eye Protection
Always remember to protect your hands and eyes when cleaning gutters. The leaves and other debris are likely mixed with droppings from birds, squirrels and pigeons, which means they’re loaded with bacteria. You can also cut yourself on sharp edges, especially when your hands are wet and soft. The last thing you need is to need is to get something blasted into your eyes or rubbed into a cut on your hands. Cotton gloves and safety glasses are your best defense.
5.) Use Rubber-Soled Shoes
If you have to walk on the roof to get the job done, you’ll need the right type of shoes to keep from slipping. Rubber-soled work shoes will help you adhere to wet surfaces along the roof or on your ladder. Remember that even if you haven’t turned the hose on yet, rooftops are likely to be moist with dew in the mornings, making them just as slippery.
6.) Use a Gutter Scoop
Invest in a gutter scoop to make the job easier. You can find them at most hardware stores and they’re good for cleaning out the toughest debris in just about any type or size of system. Note that it’s best to stick with a plastic scoop to avoid scratching or damaging anything, since this could speed up the rusting process.
7.) Schedule Cleanings
While some people only think about cleaning their gutters once a year, it’s better to do it twice. Depending on where you live, snow could be just as much of a possibility in the winter as rain is in the summer. The best way to ensure you’re covered is to clean your gutters once each spring and again each fall.
8.) Purchase Gutter Guards
Finally, you can save yourself lots of effort by using gutter guards. While it’s tempting to hope you might never have to clean your gutters again, remember that not all gutter guards will live up to the claims of their manufacturers. In any case, they’re likely to reduce the amount junk that can work its way into your gutters, especially if you can find a quality product.
If you know what you’re doing, cleaning your gutters doesn’t have to be difficult, dangerous or cumbersome. The tips above can save you lots of trouble when it’s time to take care of business. Your goal should be to make gutter cleaning as much a part of your home’s maintenance as spring cleaning.