Cleaning the gutters regularly, inspecting them for damage, and doing repairs as soon as possible are smart ways to maintain your gutter system. While most are preventable, the number one cause of home maintenance accidents is falling off a ladder. Here are some tips for cleaning gutters safely this summer and fall.
Choosing and Using a Ladder
When cleaning the gutters you’ll most likely need a ladder. Choose the right kind: for instance, if your house is two storeys, you will require a type of extension ladder. Select metal over wood – metal ladders tend to last longer and do not warp. Avoid using a ladder when you don’t know its maximum safe load capacity.
Don’t Work Alone
It’s also wise to have someone around to help when you’re cleaning the gutters. An assistant can stabilize the ladder, hand you cleaning supplies, etc. If you prefer to do the chore by yourself, at least pick a time when someone’s home or let someone know you are cleaning your gutters.
Cleaning the Roof
It’s advisable to clear away leaves and other debris off the rooftop first, since it can be blown down into the gutters, doubling your workload. Make sure the roof is safe to walk on – no windy days, rained the night before, etc. If standing on the roof while cleaning it, use a broom instead of a garden hose – if the roof needs rinsing off spray water (safely) from a ladder.
Wear the Right Clothes
Wear rubber-soled shoes when walking on the rooftop or ladder; make sure shoelaces are properly tied. Don’t wear loose clothing; shirts/jackets with over-long sleeves; or pants with legs dragging on the ground. To avoid debris and gunk from touching your skin, wear gloves and use safety goggles.
Do No Harm
While you don’t want to hurt yourself when cleaning the gutters, you also want to keep the gutters safe. Use a plastic gutter scoop – it will prevent your hands from coming into contact with debris; it will also prevent scratches when clean aluminum gutters or copper gutters.
Don’t lean ladders against gutters: aluminum dents easily and older vinyl gutters can crack if pressure is applied.
Use eco-friendly cleaning products – harsh chemicals harm the finish of the gutter system regardless of the gutter material (vinyl, aluminum, copper).
Moving the Ladder
No overreaching to clean another section of the gutters. Instead, move the ladder. Especially when using an extension ladder, watch out for power lines. Ensure you’ve set it back down on even ground.