As you drive through a neighborhood, do you notice the state of gutters on people’s homes? How often do you see houses without gutters? Recently, a family friend removed our gutters because the upkeep schedule became too overwhelming to maintain. Our home is surrounded by pine trees and so the gutters filled up with pine straw and leaves faster than we could keep them clean.
If you have never stopped to consider the reason gutters exist, it’s so water doesn’t fall directly onto the soil and create a small trench in the outline of your home. The downspouts function to disperse the water into the soil evenly so that plants, grass, etc can utilize the water efficiently.
Our home, however, has bushes on almost every side that sit rather close to the house. A trench, therefore, is less likely to form since water will first hit the bushes and disperse more evenly as it reaches the ground. So, our gutters came off. While watching this process I learned a lot about gutter maintenance and removal.
First, you have to make sure you have thick gloves, safety glasses, a very tall and sturdy ladder, the correct drill, screwdriver, crowbar, and/or bolt cutter. Second, this is not something you want to try alone. Make sure you have a helper or someone ready to assist in the case of an emergency. Third, do not attempt gutter removal or maintenance in poor weather conditions such as rain or strong winds.
While these may sound like ideas that are common sense, they are important to consider. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, a study of 14,000 ladder related accidents produced the following results: “57 percent of fall victims in the study were holding objects with one or both hands while climbing or descending the ladder [and] 30 percent had wet, greasy, or oily shoes.” For more results and discussion on ladder accidents, visit http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/.
After you have checked to make sure your environment and equipment is safe and ready to use, you can begin to remove the gutters. According to DoItYourself.com, there are three main steps to this process: 1. Remove the downspout. Make sure you do this prior to removing the horizontal gutter pieces as the downspout should be attached to the top horizontal gutter sections. 2. Remove the gutters. After you’ve removed the downspout, have properly secured your ladder, and your assistant is ready to hand you tools as needed, use a screwdriver or drill and a crowbar to remove the gutters. 3. Repair holes, rotten or damaged boards, etc using caulk and outside paint.