Leaving debris in your gutters can damage them and force freezing water under your shingles. Image: Stacy Gold/Getty Images
In a downpour, a clogged roof gutter sends a cascade of water down the side of your house, making canyons of your flowerbeds and saturating your foundation. Clean gutters of leaves and debris to help prevent damage to your landscaping and siding, and to head off expensive repairs to your foundation that may cost $10,000 or more.
How often to clean gutters
Clean gutters at least once a year—twice a year if you have overhanging trees. Also, clean clogged gutters after big storms. Clogs often occur where downspouts join the gutter system—check these areas closely.
How to clean gutters
Wear a shirt with long sleeves. Wear rubber gloves.
Have a good extendable ladder available. Standoff stabilizers (ladder “horns”) are ideal to keep the ladder from damaging the gutter.
Use a small plastic scoop to remove gunk. Buy a gutter scoop from the hardware store ($25) or try a child’s sand shovel.
Spare your lawn by dumping the stuff onto a plastic tarp.
After you’ve cleared the muck, flush the gutters and downspouts with a garden hose—also a great way to spot any leaks.
Cost of a professional gutter cleaning
If climbing ladders is not your cup of tea, you can hire someone to do the job for you for between $50 and $250, depending on the size and height of your house.
Interested in an ounce of prevention? You can slow clogging by installing gutter covers in the form of mesh screens, clip-on grates, or porous foam. However, the cost can be more than the gutters themselves and covers need regular maintenance to keep them clear. Expect to pay $6 to $8 per running foot for gutter covers, installed.
Serial remodeler Pat Curry is a former senior editor at Builder, the official magazine of the National Association of Home Builders, and a frequent contributor to real estate and home-building publications.