Cleaning Gutters in the Fall

Home Inspector with National Property Inspections

The leaves are just beginning to turn colors in beautiful Nebraska. Fall happens to be one of my favorite times of the year. I happen to like fall colors, hayrack rides and the smell of a good soup simmering in my crockpot. Of course, as with any season, fall comes with some chores that aren't so fun. One of those is cleaning out the gutters. I am always suprised at what summer rains can wash into the gutters if I'm not careful.  

I know my gutters are meant to divert rainwater away from the exterior and foundation of my home, but they also collect debris, bugs, stick and leaves. To protect my walls and foundation, it is important to clean the gutters every six months. If you have heavier foliage near your home you may be climbing up and down more frequently.

If you choose to do this project yourself, grab your ladder and position it next to the gutter. Follow ladder safety and use caution near power lines. Growing up, I got to help my dad with this chore several times. I would stand near the ladder and hold up a lawn and leaf bag for him to toss the leaves in. We both wore gloves. For some reason, the day he picked for this chore, it always rained. I found these suggestions among several others by Darcy Westlind of on line:

-Cut a two-liter soda bottle in half and use as a scoop.
-Use barbecue tongs to pick up debris.
-Lay a tarp on the ground to collect sticks and leaves. Roll up at the end and empty it into the garbage.
-Hang a bucket on the ladder with an elastic cord to free up your hands.

I can see them making the job a little easier. Also, if you have any problems with balance or equilibrium, hire someone to do this chore, or at the least, have someone there with you. Taking a health risk is never a good idea.

After you have removed the large debris from the gutters, take your garden hose and blast out the remaining waste. Don't forget to wash out hard-to-reach areas such as the drain spout. Make note of any damaged or loose areas of the gutter. Repair them or hire someone to do it for you. This little big of maintenance can make a big difference when it comes to leaks finding their way indoors.

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