Bellevue Gutter Maintenance
Here in Bellevue, Washington, spring and fall are the perfect time to pay attention to your gutters. The last of the rain that comes in before summer starts heating up washes all the debris that accumulated on your roof during winter right into your gutters. And in the fall, all of our beautiful foliage produced a lot of leaves and pine needles that, left unchecked, can clog up your gutters during the rainy winter. It’s just one of those things we have to deal with living in Bellevue!
Here are a few simple tips to consider when it comes time to clean your gutters:
Equipment and Safety
Cleaning your gutters requires you to stand on ladder and scoop some unpleasant goop into a bucket and wash the remainder away with a hose. To do the job safely and with minimum mess, you will need some basic tools:
A fiberglass ladder is probably the sturdiest, although an aluminum ladder may work as well. Wooden ladders tend to wobble and certainly don’t use an orchard ladder – three legs don’t offer the stability you need. If you have a one-story home you might be able to reach the gutters with a stepladder, but be sure you don’t have to use the top two steps. An extension ladder may be safer.
As part of ladder safety, be sure to tell someone you will be using a ladder. Better yet, get a helper to hold the ladder for you. You will also need a bucket for leaves and debris you can hang from the ladder.
A Garden Hose
Sometimes it feels like a garden hose is really of any use a couple of times ever year in Bellevue. This is one of those times! A hose with a pistol nozzle will help you wash out leaves and debris. If you use a pistol nozzle you can adjust the water pressure and use the handle to hang the hose from the gutter.
A Gutter Scoop
Gutter scoops are long narrow plastic scoops designed to fit in the gutter to make it easy to remove decomposed leaves. You can find a gutter scoop at any hardware store. You don’t want to use a metal scoop because if you scrape the gutter you could damage it or promote rust.
Gloves and Safety Glasses
Gloves will protect you from whatever unknown “ickies” might be lurking in your gutters. Remember that birds and squirrels carry bacteria, and their droppings end up in your gutter. You can use rubber gloves but they might get torn on sharp corners; soft suede gloves are tough and flexible and work best. It’s also a good idea to use protective goggles or glasses.
Rubber soles give your better traction on the ladder, and especially if you have to get on the roof itself. If you start later in the morning the roof and ladder should be drier so you’ll get a better footing.
What to Look For
As you scoop the gunk out of your gutters, be sure to look for signs of problems. Look for rust or corrosion. Debris traps water and clogged gutters will rust faster. Also look for dark or loose joints, sagging gutters or low spots, or other signs that your gutters may be ready for repair.
Also be sure to check your downspouts. The first place most gutters clog is at the downspout so make sure that water flows freely down the gutter and down the downspout (which is why you have the hose).
If you find your downspout is clogged below the gutter, you can usually unclog it by tapping on the side of the downspout. If the downspout is connected to a drain, disconnect the bottom of the downspout so the obstruction doesn’t block the drain.
Consider Gutter Guards
You can minimize your gutter maintenance with high-quality gutter guards. Be sure to only buy what fits well and allow in the water while keeping out the debris. Some guards, for example, don’t do well in a high wind and can shift. However, gutter guards are usually easier to clean than the gutters themselves.
Cleaning your gutters twice a year will extend their life, but exercise caution. Watch for low-hanging power lines. And you never know what you may find in a gutter, including golf balls, dead animals, and even nesting creatures. That’s why proper precautions and the right equipment are definitely called for.
Do you feel prepared to take on your gutters? Do you have any other questions or tips to add on? Tell us what you think in the comments below!