Ignoring your gutters can get you into a lot of trouble! If you’re not sure of how to clean your gutters, or simply don’t want to do it… you’re not alone! Gutter cleaning is one of the most commonly overlooked but NECESSARY chores. A proper maintenance routine calls for at least two clean-outs a year to avoid costly, irreversible damage to your home. We’re here to offer some fun facts and tips on how to keep your home happy and healthy.
If you weren’t already convinced of the importance of gutter cleaning… here are a few “fun facts” that should scare you straight.
CLOGGED GUTTERS: your home’s silent killer
• Gutters are one of the most overlooked aspects of home maintenance. It’s easy to forget a part of your home you cannot easily see or access. Problems arise silently and you’re usually unaware until it’s too late! Yikes!
• Water cannot properly flow from a clogged gutter. Stagnant water is an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects. Birds and mice are also known to make themselves at home in a clogged gutter!
• Water that cannot drain properly WILL find a way out of the gutter eventually. This usually means the water seeps into your roof, siding, fascia board or foundation. Over time this causes significant damage including excessive mold, cracking, rusting and rotting.
• A rotten house is not a happy house! Your gutters will begin to distance themselves… literally! Gutters are typically installed with a nail. Over time, weather causes this nail to expand and contract. The hole the nail rests in has now expanded. When the nail contracts again, it comes loose and slips out, bringing the gutter with it. The gutter could break free from the roof taking siding, paint, shingles or landscaping down with it.
• Cleaning your own gutters is DANGEROUS! According to the National Safety Council, falls are the #1 cause of accidental death and injury at home. Falls cause over 6,500 deaths each year and over TWO MILLION hospital-related injuries every year.
We promised some tips to help make gutter cleaning a little less scary, so here they are!
Practice ladder safety!
You can’t clean your gutters without climbing up a ladder, but you should never step foot onto a ladder without a proper understanding of ladder safety.
First, it is important to always inform someone that you will be using a ladder to work on your gutters. This serves a number of safety functions. First, it guarantees that someone is aware of what you are up to, and can look out for you and check in on how you are doing periodically. Secondly, alerting those in the house or nearby will minimize the chances of being knocked off of your ladder by someone carelessly swinging a door open.
Make sure that you have a sturdy ladder that is up to code. It is helpful if you choose a ladder with a small shelf that can support a bucket filled with wet debris. Secure this waste bucket with a lanyard when possible. Wooden ladders are not recommended because of their poorer construction and tendency to wobble. Aluminum ladders are well-suited for longer jobs, where arm fatigue can accumulate, and the constant shifting of a heavy ladder in and out of position can exacerbate the issue.
Before you climb onto your ladder, inspect it thoroughly, and be sure that all of the extension-hinge arms are in proper position under full extension.
Get the right tools for the job!
One of the most valuable tools for a gutter-cleaning job is a gutter scoop. These plastic scooping implements can be purchased at almost any hardware store. The few dollars you invest in this tool will save you a lot of effort. These tools use a thin plastic scooping edge that conforms to the mold of the gutter, allowing you to scrape up even the most stubborn of rain-washed debris. Conversely, metal scooping tools should be avoided where possible. These can potentially damage your gutters, scratching or bending the pliable metal frames under heavy elbow-grease action. Any scratches will soon rust over, increasing the wear and tear on your gutters.
You should also consider getting a high-power garden hose for hard-to-reach areas, or if you are struggling with the physical demands of the job. A garden hose strapped with a pistol-grip trigger spray nozzle can do some serious damage to water-logged debris, without putting your gutters or joints at risk.
This job will require a proper set of work gloves as well. These will keep your hands clear of dirt and bacteria-laden debris, while also protecting you from cuts anywhere the thin metal gutter frame has acquired a sharp edge. Thick suede gloves are recommended because they will not be at risk of absorbing bacteria-filled water like cotton, or tearing like rubber.
The final piece of safety equipment required for this job is a good pair of eye protection. This becomes especially important when you have to apply a bit of extra muscle to get the job done, and the bits and pieces of debris start flying. More than a tissue damage hazard, this debris is often contaminated with pest feces that can cause serious eye infections to occur. Exercise caution and equip yourself with a good pair of safety glasses.