With our snow blowers still at the ready, it’s hard to believe it’s nearly time to clean gutters. But Wisconsin has a notoriously mixed-up spring, with the potential for deep freezes lasting into May—and the temptation to box up winter clothes starting sometime in April. When you start to feel that temptation, check your gutters. Then do it again a month later.
Flowers, seeds, and other organic matter can quickly accumulate in gutters during the spring, and precipitation in April and May tends to be nearly 85% higher than in March. You need to make certain before those April showers start that water will be wicked away from your home efficiently. That’s because the #1 cause of flooded basements and foundations is clogged gutters.
It’s easy to procrastinate. What’s an inch of rain going to do anyway? Well, on a 1,000 sq. ft. roof equates that inch of rain is going to equate to 600 gallons of water. In Madison, we get an average of 3.98 inches of rainfall during the month of April. The average home’s roof is more like 2,000 sq. ft. So, we’re talking more like 4,776 gallons of water run-off for the average home during the average April.
Before you climb the ladder to check your gutters, let’s talk about how many people end up in emergency rooms due to ladder-falls every year—around 90,000. One way to stay safe is to keep this basic 1-2-3 for ladder safety in mind:
THREE points of contact
Always inspect your ladder for damage before using. Wear shoes with good traction. Do not lean your ladder on your gutters. Instead use a curved ladder extension that puts the weight on the roof. Use heavy-duty gloves, a small gardening shovel, and/or a paint scraper to clean. Then spray the gutters with a hose and make sure water exits correctly through your downspouts. Check that your gutters are still firmly attached when you’re done.
If you decide to hire a gutter-cleaning professional instead of doing it yourself, always be sure the company is insured. Even better, think about getting an enclosed gutter-protection system such as LeafProof. This system’s 1/4″ channel can handle up to 12 inches of rain per hour but is small enough to keep out leaves, debris, and even pine needles. No gutter system is completely debris-proof, but LeafProof is close. Plus, because of its unique design, you can clean it from the ground using a simple garden hose. Then you can sit back with your cold drink and not waste a single moment of that elusive spring weather. You just never know when it could turn around and bite you with one last wintry frost!