With all the nice weather we’ve been having this winter, there’s only one thing on our minds: springtime! We just can’t wait for that seasonal change that leads us to blossoming flowers, the smell of freshly mowed grass and a delightful smattering of spring rain. Even though we’re ready for April showers and the May flowers they bring, your gutters might not be.

That’s why it’s important to do at least a biannual check on your gutters. What to look for, what to fix and when to call the professionals are all on the docket for this week’s blog.

Step 1: Setting up a Safe Work Space
Any work being done on the roof or gutters of a home will require extra precaution. A fall—even from a low ladder­—can cause serious injury or death, so make sure that someone else is home or at least knows you’ll be working on a ladder in case of an emergency. Wait for a different day if the weather is snowy, icy or rainy as inclement weather can impact your safety while working from a ladder.

Before you start, it’s crucial you survey your work area and compile all the tools you need in a way that makes them easy to move safely up and down the ladder. We suggest grabbing a bucket with a handle to hold everything you need like gloves, shears and any specialty cleaning tools you may use.

Make sure safety is the first priority when you’re on the ladder. Don’t reach too far out from the sides, even if it seems easier than going up and down every four feet or so to move the ladder. We’d suggest investing in standoff stabilizers, a device that attaches to a ladder and prevents it from sitting up against the gutters themselves. The weight of an adult body on a ladder pushing against your gutters can cause damage. Plus, stabilizers ensure the ladder won’t slide as you’re reaching for debris.

Step 2: Inspecting for and Identifying Issues
Take a moment before you start cleaning to take an inventory of sorts. Inspect your roof and gutters for damage or things which could cause issues down the line. Look for things like loose or damaged shingles, overhanging limbs, breaks in gutter seams, downspouts that are too short and holes or rust on the gutters. Make note of anything you see that could be a problem, categorizing the issues into “I can fix myself,” “I can try to fix” and “I need help to fix.” This will help you set up a game plan as you’ll know what you can definitely get done and what things might require some assistance. You may have to get up on the roof to complete your inspection, especially when you’re looking for damaged shingles.

Step 3: Cleaning
Now you get to the fun part: cleaning! Put on some outdoor work or gardening gloves and start fishing all the debris out of your gutters. Take this time to cut any overhanging branches or limbs that you can safely reach as well. Make sure to remove large branches and sticks carefully as you don’t want them to do any damage to your shingles or gutters, so try to always lift them away instead of dragging them across your roof.

Once you’ve gotten all the major sticks, twigs, leaves and debris removed, grab a long garden hose. Use it to flush the gutters starting at the ends which are furthest from the downspouts. Some people like using power washers to clean their gutters. While this method will work, using a power washer from a ladder can be tricky, so be extra cautious. Once your gutters are clean and clear, use Flex Seal or a similar product to fill any small holes and gaps you took note of during your inspection.

Step 4: Call in the Experts
Now is when you start to look at the “I can try to fix” and “I need help fixing” columns on your list. Larger holes in the roof, loose shingles, long splits in gutter seams, mold and other big issues will require an expert’s hand to fix. Find a trusted contractor or roof repair expert like J-Tech to deal with those problems quickly. Procrastinating on a fix will give the issue time to worsen and could cost you more money in the long run, so don’t wait. No matter who you choose for your repairs, make sure you fully vet the contractor for safety and efficiency before hiring.

If you’re seeing large portions of your gutters splitting or rusting, talk to J-Tech about seamless gutter options. They’ll be custom fit to your home, so you won’t have to worry about your gutters coming apart at the seams.