Cleaning the gutters in the fall is a good home maintenance strategy that will protect your home’s exterior throughout the winter and spring months. Cleaning gutters and doing any needed repairs yourself can save you money. But there are risks involved. Common dangers of gutter cleaning include using an unreliable ladder, falling, and making existing health issues worse.
The ladder isn’t set up correctly.
Working safely means the ladder must be set up correctly. If the ladder is placed on uneven ground, it can make it unstable when a person starts climbing the rungs. An unstable ladder also means it can shift – bumping against aluminum gutters could cause dents or other types of surface damage.
When using a straight or extension ladder ensure it’s positioned the right distance away from an exterior wall. An easy formula is the distance of the base of the ladder when it is leaning should be no more than a quarter of the height of the ladder from the house. So, if the ladder is 20 feet when extended, it should be placed no more than five feet from the foundation.
The ladder is unreliable.
Homeowners who only use a ladder periodically might not notice when screws work their way loose or the wood is warped in a couple of areas. They also might not realize the significance of small rust spots on an aluminum ladder or the hardware of an extension ladder doesn’t easily snap into place. In order to prevent accidents make sure the ladder is well-maintained – replace missing parts, tighten the hardware on loose rungs, and ensure rung locks (extension ladders) work properly.
Falling is a real threat.
Many of us underestimate the consequences of falling, especially if we lack experience using a ladder. Even a “short” fall from two or three rungs can result in a concussion, sprains, cracked ribs, spinal damage, and broken bones. To prevent a falling accident always use the three-point contact rule (either two feet, one hand or one foot, two hands) on the ladder whenever climbing up and down.
There are electrical wires in the vicinity.
If you are working in the vicinity of electrical wires, they can pose a real hazard for you when you’re gutter cleaning. Whenever you move the ladder down the gutter run or to the other side of the house always be aware of how near power lines or wires are.
Heavy rain and some weather conditions like a rain/snow mix or rain accompanied by high winds can damage wires and power lines or even bring them down. If your house is near power lines check to see if there are any loose wires before cleaning the gutters.
Worsen existing health issues.
You might be able to convince yourself you’re not really afraid of heights or the spinning feeling caused by vertigo won’t last very long, but when you’re standing on a ladder trying to clean the gutters you might be putting yourself in harm’s way.
Also take into account that as you get older reaction times and freedom of movement can change.
Keep in mind that as you clean the gutters you will come into contact with spores, germs, and decomposing materials which might trigger a mild allergic reaction.
Other existing health issues that might become worse when cleaning gutters are:
- Back pain
- Cuts and scrapes
- Muscle fatigue or pulled muscles
The wrong clothing is worn.
Wearing loose or baggy trousers, dangling sleeves and shoes with worn soles could be a recipe for disaster. You want to avoid any articles of clothing that will get snagged on edges or cause you to slip while climbing a ladder.