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Clearing Rain Gutters From Winter Storms

by Gabby Hyman
Repair-Home Columnist

Fierce storms plagued the country in December and January. Even if you don't live in a region hard hit by heavy winds, toppling trees, and freezing rain, you may face some homeowner challenges through the spring. Clogged rain gutters can be a daunting problem following storms. Even if you clear them -- or have your gutters cleaned -- twice a year, you may need to attend to them sooner then you thought.

Most contractors recommend that you put routine gutter maintenance on your home improvement calendar every spring or fall. It's not very comfortable to drag out the ladder and climb up to scoop debris from your gutters wearing four layers of winter clothing and enduring nasty weather, but if they're clogged and directing water all over the place, it's got to be done.

Should You Call in a Contractor?

After surveying the extent of debris in the gutter you'll know whether you're up to the task or whether you need to get a contractor to spare you heavy labor. If you want to do it yourself, visit a home improvement store and get some heavy gloves. If the weather is tricky or your ground is muddy, be sure you have a secure ladder in good working condition.

Many people just climb up and scoop out the debris with their gloved hands, wresting out broken branches and nested twigs. You can use a hose to blast out remaining leaf scum and mud. Strangely enough, some homeowners have had success using long barbecue tongs to ferret out the larger items from the gutters.

Home improvement stores and several online shops sell dedicated gutter tools to do the job from the ground -- sparing you unnecessary drama of using a ladder on shaky ground. There are many types out there; some have long handles with extended jaws that drop into the gutter to grab debris like one of those "grab the bunny" machines in an amusement park. Some of these clever devices also allow you to clutch your garden hose on the end and flush out the gutter without ever leaving terra firma.

Getting Help

Local home, roof, or garden contractors should come out to your home and give you a free estimate for cleaning out your gutters. Don't pay for an estimate. It's not a bad idea to get a price for the current job as well as for bi-annual cleanings if you plan on turning it all over to a professional.

About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.