Next to the roof, the gutter system plays the most important role in keeping your home protected from the elements. If you intend to DIY cleaning the gutters, it’s good to know the basic principles. When gutter cleaning this summer here are some common gutter cleaning mistakes to avoid.
Not knowing or adhering to proper ladder safety.
“Safety first” should be your number one battle cry! When you forget to follow simple ladder safety protocols when cleaning the gutters, you risk falling off the ladder and other serious injuries. Accidents can easily be prevented by:
- Before using the ladder for gutter cleaning, check for loose hardware, worn rungs, and/or broken ladder sections
- Setting up the ladder on even, stable ground; if this isn’t possible, have someone hold the ladder whenever you are on it
- Placing an extension/straight ladder the proper distance from an exterior wall
- Not overreaching; move the ladder further on down the gutter run as required
- Always implementing the three points of contact rule – three limbs on the ladder at all times
Using leaf blowers, shop vacs, or power washers.
Getting the job done quickly using a power tool might appear to be the smart solution. But they can create more problems than they solve.
Leaf blowers: A leaf blower tends to send the debris into the air. It typically lands on the roof of a house, where it will hang around until a mild windy day sends it back into the gutters. Particles of debris often drift downwards, settling on windows and siding.
Shop vacs: Using a shop vac for cleaning the gutters has similar issues as using a leaf blower. If it has rained recently and the debris in the gutter system remains fairly wet, shop vacs tend to work less efficiently than when weather conditions are drier.
Power washers: Rinsing the gutters once the debris has been removed is one of the final steps of summer gutter cleaning. But hold off on the power washer. While it might give you a shinier surface, power washers can wreak havoc on older gutter systems by loosening hardware, encouraging mold growth, and denting aluminum gutter sections.
Not wearing the right clothes and protective gear.
Gutter cleaning is a dirty job that keeps you hopping. You have to climb up and down the ladder, get up on the roof, and move around and work with tools while on a ladder. Not wearing the right clothes and protective gear can be a recipe for disaster. To avoid accidents, wear the following:
- Thick suede work gloves
- Safety goggles
- A long-sleeved shirt
- Old clothes (not loose-fitting); work pants (no shorts)
- Rubber soled-shoes with an enclosed toe
Skipping the prep work.
While it might be tempting to get the job done as soon as you’re inspired, skipping the prep work will make this home maintenance task harder. Before cleaning the gutters ensure:
- All tools and equipment you will need are together in one convenient place
- The ladder is in good working condition – if you have aluminum gutters, you will need a ladder stabilizer if you don’t already have one
- Landscaping is covered with a tarp
- Windows and doors are closed tight
- The power to any nearby outdoor outlets is turned off
- When the power can’t be turned off, outlets are covered with plastic
- Things such as the grill, toys, patio furniture, etc. that might be sprayed by water or debris are removed from the immediate vicinity