Safe, easy, efficient gutter cleaning
Easy Gutter Cleaning
by Debra L. Karplus, MS. OTR/L
Essential Fall Home Repairs
Fast Fall Fix-Ups
Preventive Home Maintenance Tasks for New Homeowners
Ask any homeowner to name a house maintenance project that they dislike and you're likely to hear that gutter cleaning is on most people's list. It's a task that needs to be done at least once a year in the autumn after all the leaves have fallen. If there are trees on your property, or in your neighbor's yard, that blow seeds or pods such as maple trees which drop those nuisance "helicopters" that clog gutters and sprout, then a late-spring cleaning is essential additionally. Ignoring the gunk in your gutters can lead to potentially expensive repairs in the future, such as roof replacement. So be diligent about scheduling gutter cleaning each year, by yourself or a hired person.
Finding a safe, practical, and affordable option for annual gutter cleaning is not a simple decision. Your basic options are do-it-yourself, hire a professional, or install screens or filters atop the gutters. Your high school geometry lessons will serve you well as you weigh all the option for gutter cleaning depending on the size (perimeter) and height of your home.
Ranch-style home resident can rejoice.
If your house is only one-story tall, consider yourself lucky when it comes to gutter cleaning. Invest in a gutter scoop, costing about two dollars at the home improvement shop, or protective rubber gloves. Possibly you can safely get on your roof and clean the gutters from above. Or clean from below and use a six or eight rung stepladder, and scoop with gusto. Be careful of the gutter clips, the small metal pieces that actually attach your gutters to your roof. After you've cleaned the debris out of the gutters, use the garden hose and flush out the gutters and downspouts, and you're done. It's that simple.
For taller houses, do-it-yourselfers have several choices for safe gutter cleaning.
If you feel safe going out of a bedroom window, getting on the roof, and cleaning debris out of your upstairs gutters, then go for it. But be careful, be smart, and have a family member or neighbor outside watching you for safety. If going out on the roof is out of your comfort zone, as it is for most people, then there are several other ways you can clean your high gutters.
Power washer wands specifically marketed for gutter cleaning sell for approximately $20 online or in the store. They attach to your outdoor water spigot and garden hose and extend to about sixty inches in length. You may want to wear a raincoat or your swimsuit and beach shoes for this job, as you can expect to get wet. Read the online product reviews to help you decide if this product will do the job specifically for your home.
If you own a wet and dry shop vacuum, you can purchase gutter cleaning attachments. Buy them for approximately $30 online. They are about sixty inches long, but you can also buy attachments for taller houses, but using the wand with attachments may be unwieldy. Some of the higher priced vacuums also have blowers, which can help with gutter cleaning and other yard work on the ground.
Specifically designed for gutter cleaning, there are several mechanical devices with extension poles. People seem to like them, but complain that seeing what you are doing is often difficult with these tools. Find these products online and read what others have to say about them.
There are people you can hire who specialize in gutter cleaning.
Depending on the job, expect to pay someone approximately $200 per cleaning. That sounds pricey, but do remember that your gutter cleaning professional is willing to risk their safety to get atop your tall, steep roof to perform a job you wouldn't dare try. Be compassionate!
Screens or commercial filters to cover your gutter top can help, but they're not cheap.
Numerous products exist that can be purchased at the home improvement center. More substantial commercial products are on the market that permanently install filters atop the gutters. Expect to pay several thousand dollars for this one-time expense. Sometimes there are senior citizen discounts or discounts at your town's annual home show. Ask for a free estimate to get an idea if this is your gutter maintenance solution. Get opinions from homeowners who already have these; you're likely to hear both pros and cons about these products.
Gutter cleaning is not a task you look forward to doing each fall and spring, but don't be cheap, foolish, or short-sighted by ignoring your gutters. Perhaps vacuuming, power washing, or using a mechanical device, all one-time purchases, will make this job a little less unpleasant. Talk to neighbors who have houses like yours and discuss gutter cleaning options. You'll feel great satisfaction and relief once you've resolved the gutter cleaning dilemma.
Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on Amazon.com (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for freelancewriting.com and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at DebraKarplus.blogspot.com.
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