Let’s face it: Gutter cleaning probably isn’t high on your list of priorities, but it still needs to be done. With a little preventative maintenance and ingenuity, there are a few ways to lessen the drudgery of this chore and the frequency with which it needs to be attended to. By following these simple steps, you can greatly reduce the amount of mess you’ll have to deal with in the long run and save yourself some time.
An ounce of prevention
If you’re not moving into a house with mature shrubbery and you’re starting from scratch, consider a game plan for your yard to minimize the amount of potential debris you’ll be faced with by planting trees that don’t shed a lot in the form of leaves, nuts, fruit, or berries. Keeping pre-existing trees within close proximity to your home trimmed back will help tremendously as well.
Purchase or create gutter guards
Gutter guards are a great way to avoid the problem of gutter cleaning in the first place. For starters, you’ll need to take some measurements of your existing gutters to know just how many feet of material you’ll need. This doesn’t have to be exact, but a rough estimate is needed. Next, make a trip to your local hardware store for materials and tools. You’ll need some work gloves, wire cutters, a ladder, and a roll of wire mesh (not screen) roughly 12 inches wide. By cutting the mesh straight up the middle, you’ll end up with six-inch-wide strips that can easily be fitted into your gutters by carefully bending the edges over on each side. You can cut these strips in sections of four to six feet for easier handling when installing. The finished sections should slip just inside your gutters to form a bridge. Depending on your budget, there are many prefab products on the market for you to consider as well. Just ask a clerk wherever you purchase your supplies.
Why should I do this?
What this does is create a barrier to keep your gutters from actually filling up with leaves and debris, greatly reducing the amount of time you’ll spend on cleaning them and the frequency with which you’ll have to do it. Once your gutter guards are in place, you’ll merely have to stand on a ladder and aim a leaf blower along the tops of them. This is not to say you’ll never have to clean your gutters by hand again, but this will help a lot. Once a year, you should still inspect them to see if they need more attention or a good hosing out.
Assuming you’re not the hands-on type, you’re still not out of options. If you have a lawn or tree trimming service, you might be able to work something out during the fall and winter months when your landscaping requires less maintenance. Another alternative is to hire an insured handyman.
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