Common Gutter-Cleaning Errors That Can Prove Costly
Certain mistakes when cleaning gutters can be disastrous for you and your home. Since gutter-cleaning is an essential home maintenance job, here’s what you need to know to ward off serious issues.
With a few safety tips and a consistent schedule, keeping your gutters cleared of debris is easy. Avoid these common errors:
1. Not cleaning gutters as frequently as you should.
A gutter maintenance mistake that is among the most common is simply not cleaning them often enough. Gutters should be cleaned at least twice a year, but depending on your particular landscape situation more often might be needed.
For instance, a home surrounded by trees will require gutter cleanings more than twice per year because of the added exposure to leaves and other debris. If you’re unsure whether more cleanings are necessary, consider monitoring your gutters throughout the year. At minimum, pencil in bi-annual cleanings on your calendar to be sure this important task gets done.
2. Cleaning gutters at the wrong time.
In addition to frequency, the timing of gutter cleanings is also important. After all, you want to be sure your drainage system is operating efficiently when it’s needed — like during wet or stormy weather. Since unpredictable weather presents a higher chance of damage to your home if your gutters are clogged or compromised, plan on cleaning them out before times of harsh weather. In most cases, this means gutter cleaning in the spring and fall, before summer rains and winter snow.
3. Not wearing appropriate protective garb.
The three most important pieces of protective gear for cleaning gutters are gloves, rubber-soled shoes and protective eyewear. The gloves protect your hands from handling dirty, rotting leaves, and more importantly, any sharp objects concealed in the debris. Sturdy shoes with rubber soles and good traction help prevent slips and falls off the ladder. Protective eyewear shields sensitive eyes from any random projectiles coming out of the downspout as you clean.
4. Not taking ladder safety seriously.
People can die from falling off ladders, so it’s absolutely imperative that appropriate safety measures are adhered to when cleaning gutters. First, carefully look over the ladder before you use it. Second, make sure the base of the ladder is securely placed with even footing before climbing it. Whenever possible, have someone hold onto the bottom of the ladder while you’re on it to keep it stable. When using a ladder solo, be sure to tell someone of your plans in case of an emergency.
While on the ladder, keeping your hips positioned between the side rails will help you stay balanced and prevent overreach. Rather than stretching and leaning to access more of your gutter — and risking a potential fall — always get down and reposition the ladder to a new spot.
5. Using the wrong tools.
It’s true that scooping out gutter debris with your two gloved hands will get the job done, but it might be helpful to know that there are certain tools available to make the job a lot easier. For instance, a basic shop vacuum with a special gutter-cleaning attachment speeds up clearing light debris like pine needles or leaves. A pressure washer is helpful for blasting out heavier buildup. If operating these tools safely presents an issue for you, cleaning the gutters by hand is probably your best option. Or call in a pro!
6. Not installing gutter guards.
Gutter guards, often made from mesh or perforated metal, make gutter cleaning easier by blocking debris from accumulating in your gutters in the first place. They catch leaves and other refuse, but let water pass freely through the drainage system. Gutter guards might be a smart investment for homeowners who live near a lot of trees or aren’t the best at keeping up with gutter maintenance.