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Okay, NO ONE likes to clean out the gutters. BUT it’s a vital part of home maintenance considering that gutters can accumulate many pounds of debris each year. Skipping this admittedly unpleasant chore, can mean you could have much bigger problems, such as water damage, leaks and pricey gutter repairs/replacement. Now that you understand the importance of clean gutters, it’s time to get to work.

A few tips to make the job, well, if not easier, at least quick and efficient.

Before you begin, you’ll need to gather a few items. Purchase a sand scoop from the toy department of a local store, a plastic tarp, rubber gloves and you may also want to get a ladder horn (also known as a stabilizer) if you’re using an extension ladder, which is the type that leans against the wall. A ladder horn holds the ladder back from the gutter to avoid damaging it.

Dress in long sleeves and don your gloves because this chore can be messy. You never know what you may come across in a gutter—from rotting foliage to dead birds—so gloves are a must to keep your hands clean and healthy. Lay out the tarp underneath you gutter so you can dump the gunk directly onto it for easy cleanup. Then climb up the ladder and use the sand scoop to remove the debris. While you can also perform the task with your hands, a scoop makes it faster, easier and cleaner. After you’ve removed the bulky stuff, use your garden hose to rinse the remaining dirt down the downspout.

If it’s been a very long time since you’ve cleaned the gutters, you may need some extra power. Rent a pressure washer for a very strong rinse. You may also want to purchase mesh gutter guards to prevent as much debris from building up inside the gutters.

It’s recommended that you clean your gutters at least twice per year—once in late spring/early summer and once in fall. However, you may want to wait until late into the spring season so you can remove pollen, seeds and other debris associated with heavy blooming.

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