A clogged gutter can cause serious damage to your house and to your pocketbook. Be sure to read up on how you can keep your gutters functioning properly year-round.
What Do Gutters Do?
Gutters are designed to capture roof water drainage. They feed to downspouts, which are pipes that carry the water away from the house. These can be made from a variety of materials, including aluminum, cast iron, galvanized steel, and PVC.
Why is Gutter Maintenance Important?
When your gutter system is clogged with debris, damage to your home and its foundation is a real possibility. Undiverted water and moisture can mar your fascia, soffit, and roofing. Continued water exposure over time can erode your home’s base. As such, taking steps to prevent this damage is a must if you want to maintain an aesthetic and well-functioning home.
How Often Should I Clean My Gutters?
You can save yourself a lot of hassle and speculation if you follow the golden rule of gutters: if they’re starting to fill up with debris, clean them out. Since the climate of your region and the immediate surroundings of your home can often determine the amount of falling debris around you, sticking with this rule will ensure that you don’t wait too long and risk damaging your house. Developing a gutter-check routine can help you stay on top of this. As a general rule for people in wooded areas, cleaning your gutters once or twice a year should be sufficient.
Tips for Cleaning Your Gutters Yourself
- Getting to the gutters: If you live in a ranch-style home, use a four-legged stepladder to reach the base of your roof where you can inspect for debris. Multi-story homes will require an extension ladder. You’ll want to make sure the ladder is in good working condition, resting stably on the ground, and is not leaning on the gutters themselves.
- Gear up for the job: Make sure that you wear heavy gloves, protective goggles or glasses, and durable rubber-soled shoes (no sandals please!). You’ll also want a gutter scoop or small trowel to shovel the debris out, and a bucket to collect it for disposal. There are also more efficient gutter cleaning tools on the market, such as the irobot gutter cleaner. This will make it easier to clean your gutters, but these tools can often be expensive.
- Grab a friend to supervise: Safety is key here! Get a friend to keep the ladder stable while you work, and keep three physical points of contact on the ladder at all times.
Let’s Talk Gutter Guards
Gutter guards offer your gutters extra protection, and require you to clean them less often. They won’t completely eliminate the need to clean your gutters, but they will extend the time required between thorough cleans up to a year or two longer.
Gutter guards come in a variety of designs and prices:
Screens: The most common gutter guard design. These mesh screens attach over your gutter and prevent a wide range of debris from entering. They still need to be removed and cleaned, but they can do a lot to preserve the life of your gutters and prevent damage to your home over time. You can buy and install them yourself for as little as $1 per foot, but this will require quite a bit of time and effort.
Inserts: These gutter guards are foam inserts that block debris while still allowing water to flow through a narrow passageway. These can be easy to install, cost effective, and work very well, but they will need to be removed and cleaned frequently. If your goal is saving time, you may want to consider a different type of guard. Insert guards can be a cheap as $2 to $5 per foot.
Reverse Curves: Using a system of water-channeling via a curved panel over the gutter, these guards direct debris off the roof and forces it to bypass the gutter altogether. They don’t require all that much maintenance, but water flow is slightly compromised by this design. If you live in an area which experiences heavy rainfall, you may want to avoid this design and go with screen or insert gutter guards instead. You can buy and install them yourself for prices similar to those of the screen and insert guards.
- Gutter Guard Installation Cost: If you’ve already purchased the guards themselves, then a handyman can install them for you for cost of labor. This should run you about $200 - $300. Gutter Companies may offer more comprehensive gutter guard solutions that are labor inclusive. These can cost anywhere between $250 and $3000.
- Gutter Contractor Experience: While the handyman option can be much cheaper, the contractor may not be as familiar with the ins and outs of gutter guard installation and maintenance. Specialists on the other hand will be experts on gutters and will likely do a more thorough job. Complimentary gutter-cleaning services are also often included in these types of deals.
Advantages of Hiring a Gutter Cleaning Professional
While you can certainly clean your gutters yourself, there are some things to consider before setting foot on the ladder.
- Is your roof at an unsafe height? If so, you may want to hire a professional who has experience performing these types of tasks at high altitudes.
- Do you feel physically comfortable performing the task? If not, it may not be a great idea to try to clean your gutters yourself.
- How much does gutter cleaning cost? Do the risks outweigh the cost of hiring a pro? Well, an medium sized home’s gutters can be cleaned for as little as $80, which may be well worth saving yourself the hassle of trudging up your ladder with a bucket and trowel.
- Do you know what to look for? When is it time to clean your gutters? While it’s easy to see when your gutters are clogged, an experienced professional will be able to notice other issues you may have with them such as small cracks, sags, and deterioration in the gutter material.
Kudzu can help you find a gutter contractor that you can rely on. Take a look at our Gutter Cleaning listings to make sure you find a reliable contractor. Here are somethings to look for in a contractor:
- Make sure they are insured. Gutter cleaning can be dangerous work.
- Take a look at the merchants’ ratings on Kudzu. If most customers find their work to be quality, then you can safely assume that they’ll do a good job for you as well.