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It might not be anyone’s favorite chore, but cleaning your home’s gutters is an essential maintenance task not to be overlooked. When leaves, sticks and other gunk clog your gutters, it can lead to serious and costly issues, such as foundation problems, leaky basements and attic damage.

To help keep your home in good shape and save money, you should clean your gutters at least two times a year, depending on where you live, which types of trees you have on your property and other factors.

HomeAdvisor suggests following these five steps to debris-free gutters:

Step 1: Get Prepared. Put on a long-sleeved shirt and heavy rubber gloves to protect yourself from sharp edges on your gutters. Also, be sure to wear non-slip shoes to ensure a good grip on your ladder.

Step 2: Set Yourself Up. Secure your ladder to the roof, and use standoff stabilizers to avoid damaging your gutters. Put a bucket or drop cloth on the ground below your work area to catch any falling debris.

Step 3: Remove Your Gutter Covers. Unscrew your gutter covers, and set them aside. Be sure to place your covers in a safe location away from your work area so they don’t get damaged.

Step 4: Clean Out Large Debris. Now you’re ready for the fun part! Begin at the drain outlet, and use your hands or a trowel to remove any leaves, sticks or other clutter from your gutters. It’s best to scoop out debris when it’s damp, not dry and stuck to the inside of your gutter.

Step 5: Flush Your Gutters. Use a hose with a high-pressure nozzle to flush smaller materials out of your gutters. If the water isn’t draining, it could be a sign that your downspout is clogged. To clear downspout buildup, install a nozzle onto your hose and set it to full pressure. Insert the hose from the bottom of your spout and snake it upwards. You can also use a plumber’s snake to clear difficult blockage.

If you’re pressed for time, afraid of heights or unable to clean your gutters for some other reason, HomeAdvisor suggests hiring a professional to tackle the job. The money spent on this important home maintenance task would be well worth it in the long run.

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