Cleaning out your gutters is vital on four fronts: safety, efficiency, curb appeal and prevention of property damage. Every spring and fall, you should clean out your gutters to ensure proper rain water flow. It’s important to place safety first when tackling this job. Here are some best practices to follow this season.
Use a safety ladder: It’s imperative to use a ladder with stabilizers if you have two or more stories to your home. Also, it’s wise to have a buddy help you in case you need assistance passing a bucket back and forth. If not, make sure the ladder is sturdy enough to hold a bucket while you scoop out the debris. Four-footed fiberglass ladders are best over two-legged wooden ones.
Use a garden hose with trigger spray nozzle: This way, you can adjust the pressure with one hand. You can also easily hang it over the edge of the gutter as you work.
Pick up a gutter scoop: Yes, you can use any old scoop or trowel, but it’s best to get a tool designated for scooping out large amounts of debris. A plastic one will do, and you can get one at your local hardware store. Don’t use a metal one because it will scratch up your gutters. If you have a steel gutter and make scratches, it will rust over time.
Wear gloves: Use gardening gloves to protect your hands against the messy, rotting leaf debris that you will be scooping. This debris can contain anything from simple dirt to bird, pigeon and squirrel droppings that often come with loads of bacteria. If you want extra protection from cuts, go with thick, suede gloves that are much more durable than cotton, rubber or leather gloves.
Don eye protection: Lots of little pieces of debris can fly out of the gutters as you’re cleaning them. Even wasps, frogs and rats can get startled and pose a threat. Avoid eye injuries at all costs.
Wear rubber shoes: Rubber sole shoes will guard against slips and falls.
Unclog downspouts: Clear debris from all downspouts and make sure they are properly positioned to guide water away from your foundation. Test it by running water from the garden hose at full speed. If water trickles out, you still have a clog.
Schedule regular gutter cleanings: If you can’t handle a DIY job safely, be sure to schedule regular gutter cleanings by a professional. This way, you’ll automatically receive service and won’t have to worry about skipping a cleaning.