The awful deluge of water which can result from blocked gutters causes most homeowners to think about the resulting costs with a sinking heart. It’s pretty obvious when your gutters aren’t functioning properly because they don’t do their job very well – and in bad cases not at all!
A well maintained guttering system is vital to the fabric of your home; in terms of protecting not only your walls and pathways from erosion, but also your gardens. A sudden period of bad weather can play havoc with your gutters so keep an eye on them and how they are performing before the weather can do any real damage.
The worst offenders in terms of blocking gutters are undoubtedly leaves. This is why autumn is the period during which you must take extra care of them and, if you live close to any large trees, it is even more vital that you make regular checks for a build-up of fallen leaves. Leaves quickly rot down, causing a nasty slimy mess which can be terrible to remove if they make their way into the down pipes. It’s best to grab them before this happens.
If you do plan to clean your own gutters, ensure that you take all necessary steps to protect yourself before you take the job on.
Gutter Cleaning Safety Tips
- Never try to clean your own gutters alone; you should always have a second person around to assist you. Even if they are not going to take on any of the actual work, they are there to watch that you are safe as well as to foot your ladder.
- Before you use your ladders, check them over thoroughly in case there is any damage or wear to them. This is an especially important task if they have been in storage for any length of time. Once they are given a clean bill of health, place them carefully against your building and, with your assistant in place at the foot of them, you can ascend.
- The equipment which you will need to clean your gutters free of leaves and any other detritus is simple; a bag in which to place the rubbish as well as a tool for scraping – a small trowel or fork works well.
- Because you need both hands free for climbing, it is important that you do not attempt to carry your tools in your hands as you climb up the ladder. Instead, use a tool belt which will keep your equipment accessible.
- Once you have climbed up, inspect the gutters and remove any loose debris such as leaves, bird’s nests or moss which may have flourished in the damp conditions. Place the material which you remove into your bag carefully, as you should always remember that you are at the top of a ladder!
- Do not over-stretch yourself: descend the ladder and move it along before moving onto the next section of gutter. It may take longer this year, but it’s far better than losing your balance.
- Continue the last point until you reach the down-pipe. Check this section carefully by pouring a small amount of water down it. Your assistant can check down below whether or not the pipe is working well or not. If the water runs freely out of the bottom of the pipe then you can be confident that no material has made its way down the pipe and blocked it up.
If you do find that the down-pipe has been blocked, you can either use rods to push down any blockages or call in the professionals if you are not confident enough to attempt this. Remember that no household maintenance task is worth risking your life for, and if you are not wholly able to, then do not attempt this task.