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For most homes, gutter cleaning should be done twice a year – ideally after the leaves have fallen. Also, any time a significant blockage or problem is identified, gutters should be cleaned right away. Frequency of cleaning may also depend on: the rate at which your gutters tend to fill up with leaves and other debris, and, the risks involved if your gutter drain doesn’t work properly.
Even if you don't need to clean your gutters often, you should inspect them at least twice a year.
"Is it bad if blocked or clogged gutters don't get cleaned for a while?"
It can be bad, probably more than homeowners imagine. Significant issues can arise, including:
Structural Damage When water flows outside of normal drainage channels, roofing, siding, windows, concrete and even living spaces can be exposed to excess water in damaging ways. For example, water that's flowing to unwanted places could cause patio stains or cracks, damage to the foundation, or leaks into a basement. Also, ice formed from accumulated water and debris in a gutter could damage the gutter, or even bring it down.
Landscape Deterioration When excess water flows in unexpected ways, it can erode grass, bark mulch, landscaping, and trees.
Mold & Mildew The buildup of wet debris can facilitate the growth of unhealthy mold and mildew.
Unwanted Critters Standing water can attract vermin, mosquitos other insects, and birds.
"Who does gutter cleaning?"
Gutter cleaning is most often done by a gutter cleaning company, a handyman, or the homeowner.
If you're not up for cleaning the gutter yourself, find a local handyman in the area that does this work, or hire a professional gutter cleaning service (which can also be scheduled to return on a regular basis, so that you don't need to worry about this job in future).
Are you ready for someone to clean your gutters soon? Start by completing the form on this page.
"Can I do gutter cleaning myself, and if so, are there any precautions I should take?"
Many homeowners clean and inspect their own gutters every year. If you want to do the job yourself, you'll need: a ladder (or other way to easily access the roof), a hose with sprayer, shoes that won't slip on a wet ladder, gloves, a scoop of some kind to remove debris, a container in which to place debris, goggles or other protective eyewear, an assistant to hold the ladder if needed, and fetch anything you might require during the job.
Also, take these precautions: don't lean your body weight or ladder directly onto the gutter, use a quality ladder placed squarely and securely on level ground, clean gutters when facing the home, not from the roof down, perform the cleaning on a dry, cool day. establish a process to bring your supplies (hose, scoop) up with you safely.
Finally, know your limitations. If you have a second story home, or ground areas that make accessing your gutters difficult, it's probably wise to contact a local professional to handle the job!
"How long does it take to clean gutters?"
The time it takes to clean the gutters will depend on: the size of the perimeter of house, the configuration of the gutters, accessibility of the gutters and height of the house, how well maintained the gutters are, the density and proximity of nearby trees and plants, any new damage to the gutters – e.g., leaks that need to be fixed.
A DIY-focused homeowner can probably clean well-maintained gutters in 4-6 hours. A professional may clean the same gutters in 2 hours.