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Gutters are an important aspect of any house maintenance routine, and something all homeowners should be on top of, especially when selling a home. That’s because gutters affect the aesthetics of your house while also serving an important job—keeping rain water flowing to where it should. If a gutter is blocked, the overflow of water can drain down the home itself, leading to property and landscaping damages.

That’s why it’s well worth your time to make sure your gutters are in good shape by following these steps:

Keep them clean. Cleaning your gutters is easy. All you have to do is climb a ladder and remove leaves, twigs, pine needles and anything else that finds its way into the gutters. Clear out the whole gutter, but particularly the opening leading to the downspout. Even if the rest of the gutter is completely clear, if that area is blocked, water won’t make its way down the spout.

Keep safety in mind when doing work on the gutters. Many people end up in the emergency room because of accidents involving ladders, so be sure that someone is spotting you and holding the ladder. There’s always the option of calling a professional if you don’t want to risk it.

And while cleaning the gutters, do an inspection for cracks that can lead to leaks. Small cracks can be repaired with caulk, but larger ones may require a professional, and any serious damage may require new gutters.

Make sure the gutters are secure. Gutters need to be attached to the home in order to function correctly. If there’s a gap between the gutter and your roof, water that rolls off the roof will fall into the gap. Inspect the spikes that go through to the rafter behind the gutter. These can come apart after some time. If that’s happened, secure them or buy new spikes for the best results.

Make sure you have a splash block. This is a simple, longish and mat-like device you place at the bottom of your downspout. It serves an important role by directing water away from the house. The downspout extension is the piece that connects to the bottom of the downspout and is placed on the splash block, allowing water to drain without getting close to the house itself. Be sure all of these parts are secure for effective use.

Proper gutter care doesn’t take a lot of time, and ignoring gutters can lead to more damage than many people realize, so be sure to take these preventative steps.

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