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Living Space: 6 gutter-cleaning mistakes that could lead to disaster

Jessica Bennett, BHG.com on

Cleaning gutters is an essential home maintenance task that helps ward off damage to your foundation, leaks and other serious issues. Although clearing debris from your gutters seems straightforward, this chore can be dangerous if it’s not done properly, especially since you’ll likely be working on top of a ladder. It’s even riskier if your home has a tall roof or if you’ve never done the job before.

To avoid costly errors and unsafe situations, there are several gutter-cleaning mistakes homeowners should take care to avoid. By following a few safety precautions and sticking to a regular cleaning schedule, keeping your gutters clean and free of debris is simple. Familiarize yourself with these common gutter-cleaning mistakes to ensure this maintenance task goes smoothly season after season.

1. You don’t clean your gutters often enough.

One of the most common gutter maintenance mistakes homeowners make is simply not cleaning them as frequently as they should, according to Chris Counahan, president of LeafFilter Gutter Protection. At least twice a year is the typical recommendation, but depending on your landscape, more frequent cleanings could be necessary.

“For example, if your house is surrounded by trees, you’ll need to tend to your gutters more than twice a year since your gutters are exposed to more debris and leaves,” he says. Pay attention to the condition of your gutters throughout the year, and if needed, mark semiannual gutter cleanings in your calendar so you can ensure this chore gets done.

2. You clean your gutters at the wrong time.

 

Timing is also important to ensure your drainage system works properly when needed. “Unpredictable weather and storms can increase damage to your home if your gutters are clogged or inadequate,” Counahan says. Plan to clean gutters ahead of periods when severe weather is common in your area. For many places, that means cleaning gutters every spring and fall in preparation for summer storms and harsh winter weather.

3. You don’t wear proper protective gear.

Cleaning gutters is a messy business, and you don’t want to reach into a clump of dirty, rotting leaves bare-handed. Wear heavy-duty work gloves to keep your hands clean and protect yourself from any sharp objects that could be hidden in the debris. Additionally, rubber-soled shoes with good traction can help ward off slips on the ladder. And don’t forget protective eyewear. “You never know what can fly out of the downspout when cleaning gutters,” Counahan says.

4. You’re not following ladder safety precautions.

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