Cleaning your gutters is an essential part of maintaining your home. Regular gutter cleaning and clearing of gutters is recommended to avoid gutters clogging and causing damage to your home.
In general, twice-yearly cleaning is recommended, in the spring and in the fall, although this can vary depending on climate and other factors such as the number of overhanging trees.
Not cleaning your gutters regularly can lead to a build-up of debris. This can cause gutters to become blocked which can lead to issues including structural damage, mold, basement flooding and issues with your foundations. Debris can also attract pests including rodents, insects and birds that like the material for building nests, as well as causing standing water which attracts mosquitoes.
DIY gutter cleaning, while possible with the right equipment is not an easy or desirable task, not to mention the safety considerations of working at height. This means that many people end up putting it off leading until their gutters become clogged. Often the resulting damage ends up costing far more time, energy and money to rectify than hiring professionals to regularly clean your gutters.
If you are planning to clean your gutters yourself here are a few common mistakes you would do well to avoid.
One of the reasons that DIY gutter cleaning is not as simple as it seems is the fact that generally, you can’t do the job without being up a ladder. And this comes with a number of additional considerations.
For a start you need someone to be spotting the ladder while you climb it making a seemingly simple DIY task a two-man job. You also need to be careful where you lean the ladder, to be safe and also avoid damage to your property.
One of the biggest causes of ladder injuries is overreach, so make sure you move the ladder along the wall regularly and don’t try to save time by leaning as this can put you or the ladder of balance and cause you to lose your balance or fall.
It is also important to make sure you are wearing the correct safety gear including appropriate footwear, gloves and eye protection. A hard hat is also recommended to protect your head if you were to fall.
Gloves are eye protection is particularly important as debris in gutters can hide sharp edges as well as pests. And clearing gutters can often lead to debris flying through the air. Good footwear will help stop you slipping while you are climbing or balancing.
Another key safety tip is not to carry a muck bucket. Instead, place it securely on the roof or attach it to your ladder. Ensuring you have both hands free will make you much safer while you work.
One of the common mistakes DIY gutter cleaners make is not noticing or in fact ignoring the need for minor repairs. It might be more about general maintenance than cleaning specifically, but if ignored even minor repairs such as peeling paint, a small leak at the seams, a wobbly downpipe or small patches of rust or mold, can quickly turn into much bigger problems, if not dealt with.
Professional gutter cleaners are trained to look out for these minor issues to prevent them from becoming worse.
Gutters, although they are designed to withstand the elements, are actually quite easy to damage, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing or they have not been well maintained. Another reason why you might prefer to hire professional gutter cleaners.
One of the most common ways in which people damage their gutters is by leaning the ladder against them. You will be safer and you are less likely to cause any damage if you lean the ladder against the siding or wall of your home rather than the gutter itself as they are not designed to support this amount of pressure.
Similarly you can damage your gutters by leaning on them or falling into them while you are cleaning them, or using the wrong tools which can scratch or damage the protective coating.
Using harsh chemicals can also damage your gutters. Again causing the paint or protective coating off the gutters to degrade.
Using the wrong tools is one of the most common mistakes that DIY gutter cleaners make. You might want to save time or avoid having to climb a ladder and scoop the debris out with your hands but using the wrong tools can do more harm than good.
A more effective way to save time would be to hire professionals. That way you know the job has been done properly and you could end up saving money in the longer term.
Leaf blowers are a common choice for speeding up the gutter cleaning process but they are not necessarily particularly effective as they tend to just blow the debris around rather than getting rid of it. Leaves and other debris can end up on the roof, which means it’s likely to end up back in the gutter pretty quickly or causing damage to walls or window sills.
Pressure washers cause similar problems to leave blowers as well as high pressure potentially damaging the seams or causing water to get under the roof.
Using tools to access your gutters from the ground might seem like a good idea but it’s often difficult to tell if you have done a good job when using these tools.
There are two main options to consider if you want to avoid cleaning your gutters.
Number one. Get in the professionals. Booking someone to provide regular gutter maintenance will give you peace of mind and prevent many issues that can result from clogged or damaged gutters.
Another option to reduce the number of times a year you need to clean your gutters would be to install gutter guards, although this should also be carried out professionally.
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