Gutter cleaning is a necessary evil for many homeowners. Gutter guards can be expensive, and are not always effective. As a homeowner, if you choose to attempt cleaning your own gutters, it is best to be safe, and only do what you feel comfortable with. There are countless accidents involving ladders every year, and some of those injuries came from homeowners trying to clean their own gutters. If you are not comfortable on ladder, or if your roof is high and difficult to get to, it may be best to call a professional.
Equipment Needed For Gutter Cleaning
You will need a sturdy ladder that will reach at least a foot or more above the gutter. You will also need a good pair of heavy-duty rubber gloves. A bucket and/or tarp is optional.
When setting up a ladder, make sure the ladder feet are on level ground. Make sure the ground is firm so one of the feet won’t sink in, causing the ladder to tip to the side. Make sure the ladder is set up at a proper angle so it won’t slide backwards as you are climbing up. Once at the top of the ladder, don’t overreach. If you lean too far to one side, the ladder could easily start sliding, causing a potentially serious fall. Keep your body positioned in front of the ladder as much as possible.
Gutter Cleaning Tips
It would be wise to wear heavy-duty rubber gloves, especially if the gutter debris is wet. Depending on how long it has been since your gutters were last cleaned, you may notice some rather disgusting waste in the gutters, so it is important to keep your hands clean. You may encounter dead animals such as bats, birds, mice, and other rodents, mosquito larvae, ants, worms, along with various forms of animal excrement. I don’t know about you, but that is not the kind of stuff I want my bare hands touching. The bacteria and other microscopic creatures found in the animal waste and other decomposing leaves found in dirty gutters can cause numerous physical ailments, some serious, if you become infected. Take precautions when handling the gutter debris.
Another reason to wear gloves is to protect your hands from cuts. There are sharp edges on the gutters, screws and nails, metal flashing, and other roofing materials that can slice or pierce your hands. I have had my heavy-duty gloves ruined because of sharp edges. A cut hand could easily lead to an infection when dealing with the gutter debris.
While a bucket is nice to use, it is one more thing to hold when up on a ladder. It would be safer to hold the ladder with one hand, and use your other hand to clean the gutter. If you do not want to throw half-rotten leaves down on a beautiful flowerbed or shrubs. You could lay down a tarp in the yard, or try to throw the debris in a pile that you can easily clean up later.
Most of what is in the gutter is organic plant matter, that will biodegrade, it is not harmful to toss down into your shrubs and leave it there. Be aware that along with the organic debris, you may also be scooping up nails, shingle granules, or other type of debris. This may not be what you would want thrown down into your yard. If you do need to throw anything into the grass, be careful to clean up afterwards to avoid injuries from stepping on nails.
Don’t forget to make sure the outlets and gutter elbows are clean. Often a gutter will be clean, but the downspout and or elbows will be packed solid with waste. If you encounter severely blocked downspouts, you may wish to call a professional for help, depending on how difficult it will be for you to dismantle and reassemble the elbows and downspouts.
You could test the outlets and downspouts for proper flow by using a hose if you wish.
While you are examining the gutters, check the seams to make sure they are properly sealed to prevent leaks.
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Take note the time of year you are cleaning your gutters, and how full they were. Depending on the location of your house, and the type of trees nearby, you may need to clean the gutters more than once a year.
The money you save cleaning your own gutters may not be worth the risk of serious injury or death from a fall. Make sure you only attempt to clean your gutters after following every precaution. Be Safe!