Avoid costly damages by cleaning your gutters

Avoid costly damages by cleaning your gutters

An accumulation of debris in your gutters could lead to costly long-term damage to your roof and home.

According to a 2009 nationwide poll of Angie’s List members, nearly 20 percent said they've had damage to their home as a result of ignoring needed gutter maintenance. Common problems are damage to the fascia, a leaky roof or basement, water damage to the interior, and landscaping erosion.  

A thorough cleaning should include the removal of all debris from the roof, gutters and downspouts, checking for loose gutters and repairing any loose gutter spikes.  

Doing it yourself can be a risky proposition. Each year more than 500,000 people are treated for ladder-related injuries in the U.S. according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Homeowners who don’t have the right equipment or have a complicated roofline should consider hiring a professional

Angie’s List advice on gutter cleaning:

  • Twice a year: Plan on cleaning your gutters once in the spring and again in the fall.
  • Check insurance: When hiring a gutter cleaning professional, check that the company is insured and ask to see their policy. Check that you have enough homeowners insurance, as well.
  • Have a helper: If you’re going to tackle the job yourself, get someone to stabilize the ladder and be on hand to help. Also, use a bucket attached to a rope to load up the debris and lower down to your helper to dispose of, so you’re not cleaning up twice.
  • Ladder safety: Always use a ladder that is long enough for the task and wear shoes that have good traction. Avoid leaning your ladder on the gutters, as this can damage them. Most hardware stores carry ladder extensions that curve to put the ladder weight on the roof.
  • Scoop it up: Put on some heavy-duty gloves or use a small gardening shovel to scoop out leaves, sticks and other debris that might be clogging gutters and spouts.
  • Get out the hose: After the debris is removed, use the hose for a final rinse to check that water is moving through your downspouts properly.
  • Clear obstructions: If the water fails to drain freely, use a plumbing snake or wet/dry vac to clear the clog from the bottom up.
  • Don’t forget to check gutter screens/guards: Protective barriers for gutters are growing increasingly popular, but are not a replacement for regular cleanings. An accumulation of debris in your gutters could lead to costly long-term damage to your roof and home. Check that these are not damaged or clogged with leaves.
  • Rest up! Take frequent breaks, especially when working from a ladder.
  • A final check: Once your gutters are clean, check to see that they are firmly attached to your home, and repair any loose spots you find.

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