Safely Clean the Gutters this Fall

A gutter system protects all the important parts of your home’s exterior, from its foundation to the roof. Cleaning the gutters in the fall is vital to keeping them working throughout winter when the weather can deliver active winds, constant rain, and other surprises the gutters might have to deal with. Most gutter problems are preventable with regular home maintenance. Safely clean the gutters this fall by scheduling a specific time, being prepared, and knowing when to call a professional.

Schedule a Time

Scheduling a time to clean the gutters (and sticking to it) can help you avoid the unexpected, which is typically when an accident can occur.

Check the roof to see how much debris is covering the shingles. Decide if you will be cleaning the roof on the same day as the gutters.

Consult a 7-day forecast to pick a day that will not be wet or too windy. You don’t want to be working on the roof or from a ladder if there’s a chance roofing shingles or the ground will be slick. Or you’ll suddenly be blown off balance.

Use a Reliable Ladder

Make sure that you use the appropriate type of ladder for the home maintenance task at hand. A tall stepladder is ideal for a one-storey house, but a straight or extension ladder is better suited to homes over one-and-a-half stories. The ladder should be in good shape: there should be no loose, missing or rusted hardware. Do not use a wood ladder if it is warped.

When on the ladder, practice general ladder safety – don’t stand on the topmost rung, use the 3-points contact rule, avoid overreaching, and set it up on dry, even ground.

Be Prepared

You will need the right equipment for gutter cleaning. Have everything in one place before you start this home maintenance chore; it will save your time. A ladder with a shelf can be useful in keeping things like a gutter scoop, scraper, a bristle brush, and garbage bags close to hand – fewer trips up and down the ladder means less chance of falling or tripping. Even one with a small shelf has enough room for a small bucket.

Additional equipment you might need includes a shop vac or a leaf blower. If you have to access the roof to clean it before you clean the gutters and while you gutter clean, consider purchasing a safety harness if you do not already have one.

Wear Protective Gear

Removing leaves, dirt, and twigs from the inside of gutter channels can be a very messy job. It can also stir up dust, particles, and germs that could make you sick if you come into contact with decomposing organic materials. The wind can be powerful and drop a variety of objects in the gutters, not just leaves and bits of branches, that might be sharp or harmful, To keep yourself safe, wear protective gear such as goggles, a dust makes, and heavy work gloves.

Wear Clothing with Safety in Mind

Wear articles of clothing with your safety in mind. Forget the sandals and choose closed-toe shoes with non-skid soles. Select shirts and pants that aren’t too loose or can be snagged on the gutters or the ladder. Leave long necklaces, watches with a loose fitting band, and scarves for after your gutter cleaning session.

When to ask for Professional Help

Here are some guidelines to help you decide when you should hire a professional gutter cleaning service:

  • The combination of the height and slope of the roof is too high and steep
  • When there are large gaps (major leaking) between the places where two gutter channels
  • Rotted fascia boards
  • The gutter system is over 25 years old
  • The gutters haven’t been cleaned in three or more years