When did you last clean out your rain gutters?
Every autumn I climb ladders and clean out our home's rain gutters. We have large trees in our yard, and after they've dropped their leaves and I clean the gutters, the big oak across the street is sure to deposit leaves in our gutters whenever the wind blows.
I had cleaned the gutters two or three times but reasoned I had one more round to do before the little snow fell and the weather turned cold a week or so ago. Fortunately, we got a reprieve in the weather last weekend. I figured if I waited until Sunday, most of the snow and ice would be gone, and I could clear the leaves and install Christmas lights and our two roof de-icing cables all in the same swoop.
It worked, though I was picking chunks of ice—with leaves embedded—out of the gutter along our back deck, on the north side. If you've ignored your gutters since that cold snap, you might want to consider cleaning them before the snow flies again to prevent roof damage this winter.
We use the two roof cords to prevent ice build-up. One covers the overhang by our front door. This ice jam doesn't seem to hurt the roof so much as it creates an ice slick atop the steps that could catch a mail or newspaper carrier or visitor unaware. I plug the cord in after it snows and unplug it when it's not needed.
That cord works so well that we bought another one for the gutter along the back deck. That corner has never been a problem except for one year when snow and ice were still atop the roof and a late-winter downpour caused problems around the foundation. So I now install one in back, too, and remove both in the spring.
Our gutters aren't in great shape, and I'm hoping to save enough money to install new ones next year. Some of our soffits aren't looking so good either and might need replacing at the same time. Maybe someone will convince me of some brand of gutter guards that will work well and save the annual autumn ladder work.