Cleaning out gutters sounds easy enough, but the location of the gutters and the surrounding environment can have a big impact on how big of a job cleaning out your gutters will actually be. The size of your house, the weather, the equipment you have, and nearby foliage are all things you should take into consideration when trying to decide if you should do your own gutter cleaning, as well as your own comfort zone when dealing with ladders and heights.
Why Clean Gutters at All?
Gutters are designed to efficiently remove water from your roof and away from your home. When a gutter becomes blocked up with leaves or other debris, it cannot perform this function, meaning water may puddle on your roof, leading to leaks, or in some cases even foundation damage or basement flooding. Any one of these problems can mean expensive repairs, so keeping your gutters cleaned out is basic maintenance that can save you money. Experts recommend gutter cleaning twice a year, in the spring and fall, to ensure that your gutters are functioning properly.
In order to clean your gutters, you will need quite a few tools to do it as safely as possible. You will need a ladder tall enough to allow you to reach your gutters, heavy work gloves to protect your hands, and goggles or safety glasses to protect your eyes from debris. You will also need a trowel, a water hose with a pressurized nozzle, and something to get in the hard to reach areas, such as a plumber’s snake or a thin pole. Investing in all of these gutter cleaning supplies can be a risk if you are still not sure you’re going to be able to do it yourself, so in many cases people choose to hire a professional instead.
There are quite a few risks involved in doing your own gutter cleaning; first there is the issue of height. Gutters run along the roof of your home, meaning that even on one-story homes they are ten feet or more off the ground. This means you must be comfortable on a ladder to get to them, and must have good balance to ensure your safety while up there. Some people prefer to clean their gutters from the roof, which means your roof must have a shallow pitch enough for you to safely navigate it. You must also be wary of weather conditions. Recent rain can make for slippery slopes, and wind can seem much more intense ten to fifteen feet up than it does with two feet on the ground. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that ladder falls make for an average of 165,000 emergency room visits a year, so making sure you are comfortable with heights and your ladder is important if you are going to tackle this yourself. You will also need to keep an eye out for nearby branches and sharp edges on your gutters. Not only could you sustain a serious injury, you could end up missing work, which would cost you a lot more than hiring a professional would have.