Enjoy the gorgeous foliage while it lasts because before you know it, all those colorful leaves will be clogging up your gutters and covering your lawn. Yes, we all love the picturesque change of seasons, but the clean-up can be a killer. So this weekend, get your house prepped to make the job as easy as possible and save your lower back some pain and suffering.
In the winter months, gutters perform the very important function of carrying melted ice and snow away from the roof. They prevent ice dams and other wet weather issues that can cause leaks in your home. The problem is that if your gutters are clogged up with leaves, the water can’t properly drain, which means it will end up in one of three places. If it’s very cold, the water will freeze into dangerous, heavy icicles which can pull your whole gutter system down. If it’s warm enough for the ice to melt, it will end up seeping into your roof, causing leaks in your attic, ceilings or walls, or it will overflow over the gutters and pour down into the foundation, causing leaks in the basement. None of these scenarios are cheap to fix, but they are all entirely preventable.
If you get a lot of falling leaves on your property, I recommend having gutter shields installed on your home. Gutter shields can be made of metal mesh or plastic and can either work as a filter or a complete gutter cover. The type of guard you choose will depend on your home and needs, and installation can be done by a professional contractor in one day. For those of you who are handy around the house, you can even install them yourself - provided you have safety equipment and feel comfortable on a roof. It’s important to note that if your gutters are very old or have been not been maintained properly, you may not be able to cover them.
If gutter shields aren’t an option for you, you can also get your gutters cleaned, which should be done at least four times per year. Many homeowners tackle this job themselves, but it can be both difficult and dangerous. I suggest hiring a professional, who can not only clean the gutters but can also do a quick inspection to ensure your gutters are in good working order and ready for the winter. Whenever I do a gutter cleaning or gutter guard installation, I always look for leakage warning signs and report them back to the homeowner so they are aware of any potential problems before they happen.
Once your gutters are ready for the leaves, you can think about your yard. Raking is one of my least favorite jobs around the house, so I use my sit down mower to go around the yard, sucking up the leaves and chopping them up into mulch that we use in our garden. If you don’t mind doing the job manually, make sure you get a good ergonomic rake to protect your back and don’t fill your bags up to the point where you’re struggling to lift them. An autumn cleanup isn’t worth a trip to the emergency room.
Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.