Dirty Gutters Don’t Work

Trees can clog your guttersWherever you live, this is true. The Sun has crossed the Equator into the Southern Hemisphere and for most of the world’s population autumn is officially here. Nights in the Northern Hemisphere are now longer than the days and that balance will be tipping towards colder and darker over the coming weeks. Leaves are already beginning to change here in Colorado, and folks are planning their annual pilgrimages to the high country to see the aspen leaves exploding golden in the midst of the evergreens that dominate most mountain sides. (In fact, we did a roof inspection on the back side of Pikes Peak yesterday. The exploding has already begun.)

In Eastern Colorado, trees for the most part, have been brought here. After all, until you begin to climb upward along the Front Range, about the only deciduous plants you might call “trees” that could survive on the prairie were a few native cottonwoods. Scrub Oak and most of the willows found along Front Range creek beds hardly qualify as trees.

We do love trees, but….

That being said, our city-dwelling customers do have trees. We love trees in Colorado. They are hard to grow. They are also hard to maintain, since the sudden autumn snows often load their leafy branches with sticky, wet snow, and break them down weeks before the trees were clever enough to shed their summer greenery. We plant them with great anticipation of seeing the palates of colors that Easterners have, only to discover that it takes almost perfect weather for Red Maples and Red Oaks to actually turn red! Instead, we get an early freeze and they just go brown and fall off.

In the older neighborhoods, where the trees are large enough, eventually they end up (whether the colors have been grand or disappointing) on roof tops and inside of gutters.

What does that mean for you as a homeowner? Too bad…it’s soon time to clean the gutters.

Man cleaning guttersSo, to begin on the real subject of this series, dealing with leaves, it is important to stress the obvious…cleaning gutters is probably the most dangerous task homeowners usually take on themselves. BE CAREFUL. Unless you frequently climb ladders, and are sure-footed on inclines, the fear you may feel is a good thing! Humans don’t bounce well. Spend the money to have good ladders. Personally, I have refused to climb some the junk that a helpful prospective client has offered me so that I don’t have to run back to the truck for one of my heavy Class 2 or 3 ladders. Do yourself a favor, buy good ladders. Someday, if you reach the point where you are done climbing ladders, you can always sell them for much of what you’ve paid for them. Isn’t that what they invented CraigsList for, anyway?

Many folks find someone else to do this for them. This brings me to the second scariest part of cleaning gutters….LAWYERS. As bad as falling and hurting yourself may be, getting sued by a personal injury attorney is a pain that will probably take longer and cost more to heal from. Listen to me carefully…virtually nobody you will find to clean your gutters has Workmen’s Compensation insurance. If Chuck-in-Truck brings a kid to help him, or worse yet, you personally hire a neighborhood teenager to do it for you and that kid falls, the bills for lost wages, hospitalization and rehab will all come to the homeowner. Homeowners Insurance almost never covers that kind of loss.

Here is the “Landing Point” today:

  • Do it yourself, and be safe, OR
  • Hire a professional who can prove the existence of a Workmen’s Compensation policy. (By the way, get a real certificate. Don’t accept a photocopy of someone else’s certificate. If it has your name on it, you know it is genuine.) You betcha…hiring a Professional can be a bit expensive.

Next time: a little bit about Personal Fall Arrest Protection and some links to some YouTube videos to help clarify the things that words alone don’t explain well.