Cleaning Up Your Gutters

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ September 25, 2009

In a matter of weeks, leaves and other debris will start to gather in your rain gutters. Most home-improvement experts recommend that you clean out your gutters every spring and fall. Clogged gutters can cause so many woes that it's worth your effort to clear them or install guards to block falling debris. You can clean them yourself with a ladder and hand-made scoop. But if you're unwilling to do it, at least call in a service to handle the job.

Here's why. If you have siding, continuous leaks from the roof can warp them or create mold issues that affect your entire family. Pooling water in your gutter can rust metal gutters or rot wooden ones. In the worst-case scenario, clogged gutters and faulty drainpipes can funnel runoff down your exterior walls and into your foundation. Freezing water in winter can actually crack the foundation and then you have real expenses.

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How to Clean Out Your Gutters First, round up your tools, including a sturdy extension ladder, work gloves, protective goggles, a hand scoop, and plenty of bags to round up waste. Some people use pressure washers or a leaf blower, but in some cases, nothing suffices better than a scoop and elbow grease. Pay attention to how you set up and move your ladder; it can be the most important safety measure in cleaning gutters.

You can buy a gutter scoop, but many homeowners simple make one by slicing the bottom from a empty bleach container-or you can use a trowel. If you plan on dumping the debris into a bucket, be sure to attach it to the ladder, rather than hang it from the gutter, causing warp or bends. Clean from the side of the gutter that attaches to the downspout, moving away from the opening. This can prevent clogging of the gutter and downspout.

Pressure Cleaning Gutters If you decide on using a pressure washer, you'll spare injury or potentially fatal falls by using a harness or lanyard. It can be more work than necessary to get the job done.

No matter what, be sure to check the positioning of your ladder to avoid power lines. Consider buying a ladder stay that allows you to position the ladder against the wall, rather than putting pressure against the gutter. Use a hose to clear your downspouts but never force debris through them. You can end up creating a logjam in the middle or bend in a spout, and then you may have to replace it.

After the cleaning, inspect the downspouts and gutters for cracks. A special gutter sealant can easily patch the leaks, but avoid creating ridges that can block the flow.

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