It’s that time of year again! Jack-o-lanterns decorate doorsteps, the nights get longer and colder, you prepare for the sugary rush of Halloween, and look forward to eating pumpkin flavored everything.
But another thing fall brings is—yep, you called it—falling leaves. Besides being a nuisance to rake, they can also be difficult to clean out of your gutters. But because of the excess of debris this time of year, it is the best time to clean the gutters before the winter months freeze everything over. Gutter cleaning is essential for water flow and roof integrity; it protects your home and your walkways. Read on to see what to consider when performing your yearly gutter clean and if you’re ready to DIY.
DIY Gutter Clean
Remember, safety first. Before you begin, choose a dependable ladder and place it on a level, sturdy base. It is best to complete this task with another person spotting you, even if you trust your ladder. Many people are injured each year by falling off of ladders that seem steady and firm. Check the soles of your shoes to make sure they are not slippery or wet and have good traction. Also, be prepared with work gloves to protect your hands from potentially sharp objects. Visually inspect the gutters for holes and clogged spots so you know what you’re up against.
Scoop out the leaves, twigs, and other debris with your hands or with a small garden trowel to clean out the gutters. You can throw the debris into a bucket, a bag, or onto a tarp on the ground to expedite cleanup. Alternately, a leaf blower could help with the job, but be careful if you are up on a ladder awkwardly handling the blower. If leaves are wet or caked, your hands or the trowel might be your best bet. It is important that you work away from drains. You do not want the debris to clog up the vertical drainpipes, which are much harder to clean than the horizontal gutters.
Once you’ve cleaned the gutters, use a garden hose to wash away any extra leaves or debris from downspouts. Be gentle so as not to damage them, as they are less sturdy than drains inside your home. Should they need some extra coaxing, a plumber’s snake could help as well.
Did that take longer than expected? If so, consider covering your gutters with wire or mesh in the future—this can drastically reduce cleaning time because bigger twigs and leaves can’t make it through the covering. There are also many tools on the market to help you clean gutters from the ground, or that can even clean your gutters for you.
If the DIY option (either with or without specialized equipment) doesn’t seem like your cup of pumpkin spice tea, then consider hiring a handy man or other gutter cleaning service to help you out. They will be able to get the job done quickly and efficiently, and can also check to make sure the gutters aren’t leaking anywhere.
Remember, gutter cleaning is best done once, or even twice a year, before and after the winter months. Overflowing gutters can lead to serious roof and wall problems, besides being unsightly and even dangerous if they become overburdened and fall. Keeping a simple maintenance plan will help your home be safe, well kempt, and inviting.