Out of all the exciting things to do around the house, cleaning the gutters would not be on top of that list, but is considered one of the most important things to protect your investment. The main purpose of a gutter system is to divert the rain water away from your home’s foundation. Without a system in place, when raining it seems as a curtain surrounds your home. As this rain reaches the ground it will travel in a direction that usually ends up near the foundation. No foundation is crack free and these channels of water eventually come in contact and slowly erode it away. Over time your basement will show signs of mildew, mold, and bacteria.
To clean your gutters properly, find or rent a sturdy ladder. Ladders can be rented from most local rental centers for as little as $40.00 a day. When using ladders, make sure you stay away from power lines and windows. It’s also a good idea to use a ladder stabilizer to make sure the ladder doesn’t crush your gutters or slip while you’re doing the cleaning. Ladder stabilizers can be purchased at most hardware stores for about $30.00 and may even be included if renting the ladder. Remember your safety is more important than clean gutters, so if possible get someone to help you. If the chore seems unsafe or is too large, know your limitations and hire a professional if needed. Thousands of people die or get seriously injured each year from falls and electrocution while working on ladders.
If you have gutter screens or gutter guards, check for damage or clogs of leaves and branches. They won’t work properly and the water may just flow over them making them useless. Lift the guards carefully to avoid damage and remove any leaves or debris; afterwards re-install the guards properly. Check your downspouts to see if they have screens at the top and clean them if needed. If possible, use a hose to clear any heavily clogged downspouts and make sure you replace any damaged gutter or downspout screens. It is also a good idea while cleaning your gutters, to inspect the fasteners and make sure they are properly secured to the fascia board; if not, usually a hammer or screwdriver will suffice.
There are several tools you can use to clean the gutters but which ever methods, please use gloves to protect yourself from injury and infection. If leaves are all what’s in the gutter, it will be quicker to just use your hands to remove them. Trowels or small shovels make good tools to clean the smaller debris and grime from the bottom. Another way is to take an empty half gallon milk jug and cut in a fashion to fit the shape of the gutter; it makes a perfect scoop and can hold much more leaves and debris before needing to be dumped. Where you dump these leaves and debris is up to you: You can let it just fall down as you work and clean up later, or keep a trash bag handy, even tied to your ladder, to simplify and shorten this task.
There are products available that attach to a garden hose and has a built in on/off valve. The telescoping wand extends up to six feet so you can reach the gutter and clean them out. There are mixed reviews about these products but the common complaints seems to be getting wet and difficulty in removing the compacted leaves and debris. You can find products like this in most home improvement stores for around $25.