Fall and Winter Gutter Cleaning Preparations

Ice, snow and wind can have devastating consequences on the coziest of homes. Last winter alone there was over $1.5 billion dollars in insured losses due to burst pipes, frozen gutters and other weather-related disasters, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

"It is when the leaves start to turn and not when the snow is beginning to fall that homeowners need to get ready for severe winter weather," says Jayna Neagle, spokeswoman for the I.I.I. "A little time and effort in October or November can prevent the heartache of burst pipes and other disasters when Old Man Winter brings snow, freezing temperatures and arctic winds."

Remove leaves, acorns, sticks and other debris from gutters, so melting snow and ice can flow freely. This can prevent ice damming - a condition where water is unable to properly drain through the gutters and instead seeps into the house causing water to drip from the ceiling and walls. You may also consider installing "gutter guards". Available in most hardware and home stores, gutter guards are screens that prevent debris from entering the gutter and direct the flow of water away from the house and into the ground.