Spring and fall are the two most important times of the year to regularly clean your gutters – when they’re full of falling leaves or filled with leftover winter debris and spring pollen and petals. Spring rain can quickly backup a clogged gutter system, causing damage to both your home and property.
Plan for a Nice Day
Don’t put your gutter cleaning off too long, but plan for a day when the weather is relatively nice. Pulling out the ladder as the storm clouds are rolling in and the winds are gusting is a sure-fire way to have an accident while rushing around to get the job done quickly. Your ladder will become slippery if it starts to rain. It is never a good idea to climb up on the roof to clean your gutters. Steep angles, loose shingles, debris, and moss can easily cause you to slip and fall.
Ladder Safety Protocol
While it may not always be possible to have a second person outside with you, do not go up on the ladder or roof to work on the gutters if there isn’t anyone else home at all. Someone needs to know what you are doing and where you are. Make sure your ladder is sturdy and in good repair.
Avoid using a wooden ladder, as those are the least sturdy. The best are aluminum, because they are both sturdy and light enough to move around safely. Fiberglass ladders are also good, but they can be heavy and will contribute to muscle fatigue.
Finally, do not put your ladder up anywhere near electrical wires that run into your home. You should be far enough away that you can’t reach out and touch them or fall into them if your ladder does slip. While you’re working, double check – visually – that the power lines coming into your home aren’t damaged. If you see signs of wear, call an electrician to have a repair made.
Tools for Cleaning the Gutter
A gutter scoop is the perfect tool for cleaning out the gutters, but you may find that a garden hose with a high-pressure nozzle works for flushing out the system as well. You may need to use a combination of both. Make sure that the scoop is made of plastic as metal may scratch your gutters and contribute to rusting.
Eye protection is critical as there is no way of knowing what may come out of the gutter if you spray a hose to clear it out. An eye injury in itself is critical, but the surprise may also shift your balance on your ladder and cause you to fall.
Gloves are a must-have as well. They’ll protect you from rotting debris, sharp edges of the gutter, and the bacteria associated with decomposition and animal droppings. Suede is usually durable yet workable, while leather is often too stiff. Plain rubber or kitchen gloves can easily rip and should be avoided.
Your gutters should be an important part of your home maintenance routine, but they can also be dangerous to work with. Taking a few simple precautions will not only protect your home but keep you free from life-threatening injuries as well.