Should I clean my gutters myself?

Can't decide whether you should clean gutters yourself? A little knowledge may help you decide.
Are you grappling with the question of whether you should hire a professional to clean your gutters or just do it yourself?

A little knowledge of gutter maintenance may help you determine which solution is best for you.

Gutter Maintenance

Gutters are designed to funnel water off of the roof and away from your home, which protects your siding, windows, doors and foundation from water damage.Clogged gutterscan cause leaks,damage to the foundation, and basement flooding - all of which lead to expensive repair bills.To avoid these problems, gutters should be cleaned twice a year (spring & fall) to remove leaves, sticks, and other debris.

Risks

Gutter cleaning may be relatively easy, but it is not without risks.The main risk is falling - either off the ladder or the roof. Thousands of people visit the emergency room each year after falling off of a ladder, so if you do decide to clean your gutters yourself, safety should be your first priority.Some people prefer to clean their gutters from the roof instead of a ladder.To minimize the risk of falling, make sure that the roof surface is dry and weather conditions are good.In addition to falls, other potential injuries include cuts and scrapes to your hands from sharp gutter edges and screws, and scratches to your face and eyes from twigs, branches and other debris.Protect yourself by wearing heavy work gloves and goggles or safety glasses.

Cleaning Tools

You will need some basic tools to clean your own gutters.
  • Ladder*
  • Heavy work gloves
  • Goggles or safety glasses
  • Garden shovel / trowel
  • Water hose with high pressure nozzle
  • Plumbers snake or thin rod or pole
*Before beginning work, make sure that your ladder is secure.If possible, have someone hold the ladder or secure it to the roof. Do not lean the ladder directly on the gutters, as they can break easily.If you cannot place the ladder below the gutters, place a board behind the gutter to protect it.If you have a low roof you may be able to use a tall step stool instead of a ladder.

Cleaning Instructions
  1. Start at the drain outlet at the low end of a gutter.Use the garden shovel/trowel and your hands to clear out debris, working away from the drain outlet.If you have access to a leafblower you can use it to blow out loose debris.
  2. Use the water hose to wash out each length of the gutter, always working toward the drain outlet.
  3. If water doesn?t flow easily through the drainpipes, use the hose to flush out any obstructions.If that doesn?t work, use a plumber?s auger (snake) to pull out the debris or push it through with the long pole.
  4. Dispose of all debris removed from gutters.
The Decision

Now that you know what is involved in gutter cleaning, you should be able to determine if you want to do it yourself or call an expert on Kudzu. Before you decide, determine if any of the following statements apply to you.If the answer is yes, it is probably best to call in the pros.
  • I am not comfortable on a ladder and/or roof
  • I have problems with my balance
  • I am afraid of heights
  • My home is two or more stories
  • My roof has a steep slope
  • Trees and branches block access to my gutters

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