are an integral piece of your homeís well being. They
serve to control the flow of rainwater to protect your
roof, walls, foundation and landscape.
when neglected, experts say gutters can turn from a
necessity to a nightmare. A gutter clogged with leaves,
sticks and other debris can cause a leaky roof or water
damage to the interior or exterior of your home.
Contractors say gunked-up gutters also make nice homes
for pests, rodents, mold and honeycombs from bee
you let gutter cleaning go by the wayside, it can cost
you hundreds or thousands of dollars," says Jeff
Lambert, a supervisor with The Gutter Man in Houston,
are a potential bomb above your head full of insects and
critters, if you let them stay out of sight, out of
mind," Lambert added.
often should they be cleaned?
depends largely on where you live and, most importantly,
how many trees are in your yard. Bob Vecchio, owner of
The House Doctors in Cleveland, Ohio, recommends having
gutters maintained in the spring and fall.
recommend people calling me in the fall when all of
their leaves are down or almost down, Vecchio says.
"In the springtime, maple trees get those little
helicopters that go everywhere, including into your
says itís important to have a professional clean the
downspouts as well because a clogged downspout
"makes it hard for the rain to go down and that
causes them to back up and overflow the gutter, which
can cause damage to your home."
can judge how often to clean your gutters based on how
often leaves in your area fall and the types of leaves,
should be on everyoneís to-do list about every four
months, depending on the tree climate," he says.
"In a high-yield environment, leaves fall all
year-round. You canít wait until the last leaf
COVERS REDUCE DEBRIS
guards significantly decrease the need for gutter
maintenance, but they donít eliminate the need
completely, Lambert says.
of every four to six months, you may only need to
maintenance gutters with covers or screens every one to
three years. The frequency of maintenance will depend on
the quality of the cover and the type and quantity of
trees in the yard, he says.
if you do have gutter covers, itís still a good idea
to do a visual check each year, says Vince Curcio, owner
of The Bizzzy Bee in Charlotte, North Carolina.
says a guard will not keep all the debris out, adding:
"Up to 15 to 20 percent can still get in, and you
still have to remove the guard. Sometimes you need a
professional to do so."
important to purchase quality covers and screens if you
want to effectively limit the need for gutter
maintenance, says Gerry Murray, owner of Gutter Covers
of Indiana in Indianapolis.
need to look for one thatís strong enough to hold up
and suits your type of trees," he says.
gutter cover costs on average between $1,500 to $2,500
depending on the size of the home and length of gutters,
THE JOB YOURSELF OR HIRE?
cleaning gutters is a task most homeowners can do
themselves, it can be dangerous work. According to the
Consumer Products Safety Commission, falls from ladders
sent more than 240,000 Americans to hospital emergency
rooms in 2009 (the most recent year available).
climbing a ladder, be sure itís sturdy and all the
steps are in good condition. Climb the first two steps
to determine if the ground is level. For soft soil,
place plywood under the legs of the ladder. You should
also make sure not to rest the ladder on the gutters
themselves because the additional weight can cause them
had a customer once that smashed both hips from falling
off a ladder and received permanent injuries from
it," Curcio says. "Thatís one of the biggest
things; safety. The second thing is a professional knows
what theyíre looking at and can stop the problem
before it gets worse. Gutter prevention is measured in
pennies, and repairs are measured in dollars."
a cleaning, a professional should remove all debris from
the roof, gutters and downspouts, while checking and
repairing any loose gutter spikes. The cost of gutter
cleaning ranges from $75 to $225 for an average home,
depending on the length of gutters, height of the home
and scope of work. Most companies charge a flat fee per
foot of gutter, but the cost can go up depending on the
complexity of the work.
example, The Gutter Man charges 85 cents per foot of
gutter but will charge more for labor-intensive jobs,
hiring someone to clean your gutters, check that they
carry liability insurance and workersí compensation
insurance for any employees they bring to the job.
Moor and Jason Michael White are is a reporter at
AngiesList.com, a trusted provider of local consumer
reviews and an online marketplace of services from