Whether football season, back-to-school season, Halloween, or securing the home for winter – all our favorite themes fall during this time of year. One of the more necessary early home winterizing projects, is cleaning those gutters before the real first snowfall. In fact, it’s best to ensure your gutters are cleaned twice a year, once in the spring and in the late fall.

When inspecting your gutters, remember to think of safety first. You would rather not start the season with a broken limb due to neglect. If using a step or extension ladder, make sure its footing is secure and on level ground. Keep any tools, bags, or other equipment close and easily accessible. And before you even make the climb, let someone know you will be up there – just in case.

Wear work gloves, which are relatively thick and will prevent any sharp objects from puncturing through. Safety glasses might also be a good idea, and avoid power lines or other cables leading to the building. If you need to clean off the roof first, wear rubber-soled shoes or shoes with grip spikes, for better stability.

Using a garden trowel, hand spade, or gutter scoop, start near the downspout and clean out the debris. If the debris is hard to remove, don’t be a afraid to reach in with your hands and pull it out. Once clear, use your garden hose to rinse out the gutter in the direction of the downspout until clear. If the downspout is clogged you can either use the garden hose at a high velocity to clear it, or grab a plumber’s snake. Whichever you choose, make sure it’s safe and the spout is free of the clog.

Thoroughly inspect ever portion of the gutter system looking for cracks, dents, holes, or other damage. Get these repaired as soon as possible. Leaving gutters and downspouts unrepaired and not cleared, could lead to bigger issues such as wood rot and water damage.