Angie's LIST Guide to
Gutter cleaning

A clean and properly functioning gutter system can save you from costly damage to both your roof and your basement. Here's what you need to know about gutter cleaning and maintenance, and installing gutter guards.
 

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Gutter cleaning & maintenance

How often gutters need to be cleaned depends on the part of the country and whether there are nearby trees. If you live in the Arizona desert, you may be able to go several years, but for those who live where autumn leaves fall, it's important to clean gutters at least twice a year.

The most important time is in late fall after all or most of the leaves have come down. Most deciduous trees also drop debris in the spring, so an early summer cleaning is important as well. Those who live in heavily wooded areas may find it necessary to clear the gutters three or four times a year.

Homeowners can clean their own gutters using an extension ladder and by scooping the leaves out by hand or with a short broom. Smaller debris can be washed out with a garden hose.

Don't wait until your gutters to have plants growing out of them.

Don't wait until your gutters look like this.

Always make sure the downspouts are not clogged and that they are carrying water away from the house foundation.

Hiring a gutter cleaning service:

Many homeowners hire gutter cleaning services for this task. Cost will vary depending on the size of your house, but a ballpark estimate would be around $175.

This can be a particularly good choice for homeowners who have gutters that are difficult to reach, or who no longer feel physically comfortable doing the job themselves.

But there's another group of homeowners who ought to consider hiring a service -- those who for whatever reason just don't get around to doing the job themselves. You know who your are. Remember, the worst choice is to neglect it because that will cost more in the long run. If you want to do it yourself, that's fine -- as long as you actually get around to it.

Hiring a good gutter cleaning service is like anything else -- you need to be careful who you pick. Make sure the company has insurance and a good track record. If you join Angie's List, you will be able to search for gutter cleaning companies in your community and see which ones have been given good recommendations from past customers.

Guards and screens
gutter guards

This gutter may look like it's filled with black dirt, but it's actually foam that keeps most of the leaves out while water easily trickles in.

There is no perfect way to keep gutters clean other than getting on a ladder and scooping out the leaves. However, there are several types of gutter guards and hoods to consider that may offer less maintenance:

Reverse curve – These gutters contain a small opening that moves water downward through a gutter while pushing leaves off.

Mesh – Mesh gutters attach to the shingles on a roof and offer layers with holes on top of the gutters. With its small holes, water strains through the gutters but keeps leaves away.

Nylon – Nylon gutter guards are best for homeowners in colder climates. Nylon gutters help keep ice and snow from building dams in your gutters and can fit on a gutter without attaching to roofing shingles.

Foam – Foam gutter guards also fit over a gutter. The plastic guard blocks debris coming into the gutters while water easily trickles through.

Whether any of these actually eliminate the need to get on the ladder twice a year is a matter of debate. Common complaints about various products are either that too much debris still gets in (and so has to be manually cleaned out) or that too much rainwater runs off instead of going into the gutter.

Comments

In the Sept. 2010 issue of Consumer Reports, they rated & tested various gutter guards. One of their best buys was only 30 cents a foot to buy.

Looking for gutter cleaning etc in the Ravenswood, Wv. area zip: 26164

Hi Zeke, Thanks for your interest in Angie's List! You can find more information about local Ravenswood companies here: http://www.angieslist.com/companylist/us/wv/ravenswood/

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