Winter Chores - Clean Gutters

Clean gutters

Cleaning your gutters may be one of the most tedious and dirty jobs around your house, but it's important. Spending a few hours twice a year keeping your gutters free of debris can help weatherproof your home and prevent costly damage like cracked foundations, puddles in the basement or rotting wood. Regular cleaning of your gutters can help protect your home from any unnecessary damage.

The right tools

Make sure you have the following:
  • A sturdy ladder
  • Heavy work gloves (to protect yourself from nails and screws)
  • A small trowel and a bucket
  • A hose hooked up to water

Position your ladder carefully

Make sure your ladder is resting firmly on a sturdy surface and won't slip. Don't crush your gutters by resting your ladder on them. Either lean the ladder against a sturdier target, or place a 2-by-4 piece of wood in the gutter to brace the inside of the trough against the force of the ladder.

Weatherproofing: Clear out gutter debris

Use your trowel or your gloved hands to scoop leaves and other debris into your bucket. If your roof isn't too steep, it may be easier and faster to climb onto the roof and work from there. Obviously, you need to be careful and avoid leaning over the edge.

Once one section of the gutter is clear, use the hose to run water as forcefully as you can through the gutter to remove dirt and small particles. While you are running the water, check for leaks and watch to make sure the water is flowing down the downspout. If it's not, use a plumber's drain snake (auger) or hire someone to clear the downspout for you.

Make the most of your bird's eye view

As long as you're already up high, take the opportunity to look for any weatherproofing opportunities that can be easily addressed. Here are a few:

  • Inspect gutters and flashing for damage. Check for missing nails, loose downspouts and joints, dents and rust.
  • Trim trees around gutters to keep branches and leaves out of gutters.
  • Check the roof for missing shingles and general wear and tear and make any necessary repairs.
Remember, your health and safety is very important.  Do not try climbing up on your roof if you are not physically capable or if the risk of falling outweighs the benefits of cleaning gutters. However, this does not mean the job should go undone.  Perhaps it might be better to ask a family member who is more capable of climbing onto the roof or else hire a qualified contractor to do the job.
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