Ask Angi: What should I look for in a gutter cleaner?

Gutters do a lot more than direct water away from your house. They're an essential defensive measure protecting your yard, foundation, roof, fascia, soffits, and even basement from long-term water damage(ShutterUpIreland/Dreamstime/TNS)
Gutters do a lot more than direct water away from your house. They're an essential defensive measure protecting your yard, foundation, roof, fascia, soffits, and even basement from long-term water damage(ShutterUpIreland/Dreamstime/TNS)

Let's talk about the most important job you might not even realize you need to do: cleaning your gutters.

Gutters do a lot more than direct water away from your house. They're an essential defensive measure protecting your yard, foundation, roof, fascia, soffits and even basement from long-term water damage.

When gutters get clogged, they overflow and back up the water. Instead of being deposited several feet away from the house, water spills directly onto the yard. This erodes your soil, increases pressure on your foundation or basement, and can cause basement or crawlspace leaks. Standing water or water overflow can cause mold, and backed up water in winter can create refreezing ice dams that damage the roof.

Regular gutter cleaning can prevent this problem. The frequency of gutter cleaning depends on where you live and the type and number of trees near your home. Experts say you should usually clean your gutters twice a year -- once in spring and once late in fall. Gutter cleaners get very busy these times of year, so it's a good idea to get on the schedule as early as possible.

Expect to pay between $115 and $225 for gutter cleaning, depending on home size. Most of the time, the work will take an hour or two. If you have gutter guards, you won't need to hire cleaners as often, but the job might take a little longer.

If your gutters require extra time to clear out the debris because they haven't been cleaned in a while, the job might also cost more. In most cases, downspouts won't require much cleaning. However, in cases where debris has clogged the downspout, you'll pay between $50 and $100 more.

It is safer to hire a gutter cleaner, but is possible to clean gutters yourself. The task itself isn't particularly hard, but the safety factors require a lot of attention. If you clean your own gutters, make sure you take all proper safety precautions. This includes wearing protective eyewear and work gloves, keeping the ladder on solid ground, and asking a friend to hold the ladder sturdy. Don't overreach while on the ladder. Wait for dry days with low wind to perform the gutter cleaning. You can also use a series of various tools, such as hose attachments, leaf blowers and power washer attachments that can make the job go more smoothly and safely.

When hiring, always verify that your pro has liability and workers' comp insurance. This coverage protects you and your finances in the event of accidental damage to your home or injury to a worker. Checking insurance is always a good idea when hiring any home service, but it matters even more for workers in risky activities like climbing ladders or going on the roof.

Tweet your home care questions with #AskingAngi and we'll try to answer them in a future column.

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