Gutters divert rain away from your home and are its first line of defense against water damage. However, as autumn progresses, leaves, twigs and other debris can clog your gutters and cause significant damage to your home.
When your gutters are obstructed, you may start to notice overflows and icicles. If you don’t quickly do something about these obstructions, water that can’t drain will eventually find the path of least resistance, which often leads into your home’s foundation or walls. This can cause major structural damage that often goes unnoticed until it’s too late. In areas that experience below-freezing temperatures, the water in your gutters, foundation and walls can freeze and expand, causing even greater damage.
The amount of foliage in your yard can impact how often you should clean your gutters, but, as a general rule of thumb, it should be done at least once a year and preferably both in the autumn and spring. You should never attempt to clean your gutters in slippery, windy or icy conditions.
Before you clean your gutters, make sure you have the right tools for the job, including a functional and safe ladder, garden trowel, dust mask, gloves and eye protection. Use the ladder to reach the gutters and dislodge any debris within arm’s reach; then, descend the ladder and move it in order to clean the next section. Don’t overreach or attempt to move the ladder while you are still on it. After you’ve removed all noticeable debris, use a garden hose to clear out the remaining dust and to test for any additional obstructions.
Since a ladder is needed to clean out debris, you may want to hire a roofing professional, who can also identify any leaks, damage or misalignment in your gutter system.
Ladder Safety Tips
Though ladders are widely used tools, their misuse can lead to serious injury or death. Use these tips to stay safe:
- Don’t use a ladder if you feel dizzy, tired or otherwise unwell.
- Don’t use a ladder in windy or slippery conditions, such as when ice or wet leaves are present.
- Select a ladder that is the right size and has the correct weight limit for the job.
- Inspect the ladder to ensure it’s in working condition.
- Have a second person hold the ladder in place, if possible.
- Wear slip-resistant footwear.
- Place the ladder on firm, level ground and away from hazards such as doors and windows.
- Maintain three points of contact on the ladder during ascent, descent and during work.
- Climb slowly and deliberately, and avoid making sudden movements.
- Never attempt to move a ladder while standing on it.
- Keep your center of gravity between the ladder’s side rails at all times, and don’t overreach or lean while working.
If you feel uncomfortable working on a ladder, consider hiring a trained professional.
Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.