8 safety tips for cleaning gutters

Don't let your gutters get like this! Clogged gutters can lead to roof leaks, foundation damage and rotten fascia boards.

Don't let your gutters get like this! Clogged gutters can lead to roof leaks, foundation damage and rotten fascia boards.

Gutter cleaning is a necessary part of home maintenance, but it can be dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. Follow these safety tips to avoid falls, injuries and trips to the emergency room.

Gutter-cleaning checklist

1. Choose the right ladder for the job. For single-story houses, use a four-legged stepladder. You'll probably need an extension ladder for two-story homes.

2. Inspect the ladder to make sure it's sturdy and all the steps are in good condition. Climb the first two steps to determine if the ground is level. For soft soil, place plywood under the legs of the ladder. You should also make sure not to rest the ladder on your gutters because the additional weight can cause them to collapse.

3. Wear thick work gloves to protect your hands from dirt, animal waste, sharp debris and other hazards. Leather or suede gloves will provide the best protection.

4. Wear protective eyewear or goggles to prevent eye injuries. This is important when removing debris because a host of animals and insects can be living within the debris.

5. Use rubber-soled shoes if you need to walk on the roof.

6. Have someone hold the ladder while you're on it. This is the best way to keep the ladder sturdy. Another safety precaution is to keep both legs and one hand on the ladder at all times.

7. Attach a bucket securely to the shelf of the ladder with a lanyard to collect debris.

8. Use a plastic gutter scooper to remove large debris from the gutter.

Hire a professional

Even though cleaning gutters is a fairly simple task, there is still a high risk of injury that goes along with it. Consider hiring a pro to clean your gutters if you don't have the required tools, or you don't feel confident climbing on a ladder or the roof. Angie's List has detailed ratings and reviews on professional gutter cleaning services nation wide.

For more information, visit the Angie's List Guide to Gutter Systems.

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