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Easier and safer gutter cleaning

Using the right tools makes gutter cleaning easier and faster.

Nobody enjoys gutter cleaning. But it's much more important than many homeowners think. Rain flowing over windows, doors and siding can rot fascia as well as door and window framing. It can erode the soil around the home and damage its foundation. Plugged gutters can also cause a wet basement. To help keep gutters operating properly and to protect your home investment, try these tips:

•Think safety first. Always use a solid, quality ladder to reach the gutters. Safety glasses and gloves are a good idea, too. And watch out for power lines.

•Use the right tools for the job. In addition to a container to hold gutter debris, the person cleaning the gutter also needs a tool to scoop it out. Look for one that is flexible and shaped to fit the gutter, this will keep the workers hands away from the debris.

•Don't overreach. Overreaching can destabilize the ladder and cause a fall. Instead, consider using a special tool to extend the reach.

•Check the downspouts. If the spout is clogged, a coat hanger can be used like a rake can help get the debris out of the spout. Then, use a garden hose to flush out any remaining debris. For stubborn clogs, it may be necessary to remove the downspout and back flush it with the hose. Covering a downspout with a strainer will help reduce future clogging.

•Clean gutters anytime, not just once a year. Most homeowners know they need to clean their gutters in the fall. But it's vital to clean them out anytime they are full. To protect the value of a home, keep the gutters clean throughout the year.

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