Fall is the time of the year when most of us begin preparing for winter and to spend more time indoors during the colder months. But before you get settled inside, don’t forget to take care of some important home maintenance projects, including cleaning your gutters. Here are five tips to keep in mind as you cross “cleaning gutters” off your fall to-do list.
1. Safety First When Cleaning Gutters
Before you get started, make sure you have a sturdy ladder that’s not worn, loose, or wobbly. With ladders, keep the 4-to-1 rule in mind. This means for every four feet of height you’ll need to climb to reach your gutters, you’ll need to move the base of the ladder one foot away from your home’s exterior wall. Also, be sure to watch out for power lines that may be around your roof.
2. Start With the Roof First
It’s tempting to simply take care of your gutters and call it a day, especially on cooler fall days. But if you ignore your roof, you could soon find yourself back outside cleaning gutters again as debris from your roof naturally works its way down. So, clean your roof first by using a long-handled roof brush or rake. As long as you are cleaning your roof, do a visual inspection to make sure your gutters are firmly attached to it. This can help you avoid unpleasant surprises when winter precipitation begins collecting in your gutters. Snow and ice can weigh down loose gutters and pull them completely from your home.
3. Scoop Out the Gutters
You may be planning to get the hose out at this point, but don’t. Blasting away an abundance of accumulated debris with a hose could clog up your gutters and give you a whole new set of problems to worry about. Instead, use a specially designed gutter scoop to remove the big stuff first (e.g., leaves, twigs, parts of branches, etc.). It’s fine to use your hands as long as you are wearing durable gloves. But a scoop can give you more control over your movements and make it easier to gently remove anything that may be sticking to your gutters.
4. Rinse the Gutters Out Carefully
After you’ve gotten rid of the big stuff, go ahead and bring the hose out. Place your hose so that it sprays water in the direction of the downspouts. Attach a high-pressure nozzle to the hose, but we sure to grip the ladder tightly with one hand so the water pressure doesn’t make you lose your balance. Rinsing the gutters will clear away any remaining debris. It’s also helpful to have another person down below for safety and to make sure the water is properly flowing out of the downspouts.
5. Inspect Your Gutters for Signs of Damage
As long as you are cleaning gutters with a hose or pressure washer, check to see if there are any leaks that should be taken care of sooner rather than later. And visually inspect your gutters as long as you’re already up there to look for cracks or any other issues that may require attention.
How often you’ll need to worry about cleaning gutters in the fall will depend on things like how many trees are around your home and the design of your gutter system and roof. If gutter cleaning is becoming an all-too-frequent chore, explore your options with gutter covers. These are protective coverings that keep debris out while still allowing water to flow and drain properly. Lastly, remember cleaning and checking gutters isn’t always a do-it-yourself task. If you need some help or don’t feel comfortable getting on a ladder, call a professional to do it for you.