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We don’t think all that much about our gutters as far as lawn and garden chores go, but if you ignore them for too long, they can be quite a problem. They can be a chore to clean out, but you should clean them out at least once every year. Right before winter, and the snow that comes with it, is one of the best times to make sure your gutters are clear.
Clearing Gutters on the Ladder or Roof
The simplest, guaranteed method to cleaning out your gutters is to hoof it up a ladder and get your hands dirty. You’ll need a fiberglass or aluminum ladder, gloves, a 5-gallon bucket, rubber shoes if you plan on walking on the roof itself, and a hose with an adjustable nozzle.
First, set up your ladder. Make sure you have an even spot for the legs and, if possible, a helper that can keep the ladder steady. Jump on the bottom rung a few times if you are setting it up on soil, to make sure the legs are pushed down evenly. When you climb up, make sure you always have three points of contact with the ladder, either both leg and one arm or both arms and one leg.
Once you get up to the gutters, you’ll want to scoop out all of the debris by hand, putting it all in the 5-gallon bucket. The rotting debris can be used for compost or mulch, so don’t just throw it in the trash. Once you’ve removed as much of the large debris as possible, use the hose to rinse out the little bits of debris that is left – stuff like pine needles that might not be easy to pick out easily.
Clearing Gutters from the Ground
If you’re afraid of heights, or just don’t want to court the dangers of being up on a ladder or on the roof, there have been a number of methods developed to clean gutters out from the ground.
The first, and probably easiest, method is to use attachments for your leaf blower. These kits, like the one pictured at left, essentially extend the blower nozzle, and provide a curve that will help force the air to move he debris towards the downspout, or force it out of the gutter.
The second relies on the same sort of idea, but using a pressure washer with a curved wand. This gets the same reach and will blow out the debris. This is a little less popular, as it requires owning a pressure washer or renting one. It also uses quite a bit of water, and relies on the water to force everything over the side of the gutter, or through the downspout.
What Can Happen if You Don’t Clean Your Gutters
Not cleaning out your gutters can invite quite a few problems. A clogged gutter can cause an ice dam to develop during the winter, forcing water onto the roof of your house and down the side, causing possible water damage. Debris can cause blockage that will spill over and cause staining and rotting on siding. Also, if you don’t clear out the debris, it can get sodden and heavy, and cause a poorly-secured gutter to pull away from the building and collapse, causing damage.
So make sure you clean out your gutters, especially with winter approaching. If you don’t, you leave the possibility of expensive repairs and damage to your house, not to mention an even-bigger mess to clean up when the weather is a bit nastier.