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      Consumer Confidential: Cleaning Your Gutters

      Be careful with that ladder: in 2009, unintentional falls in the U.S. claimed more than 20,000 lives

      It??s a fall chore no one likes to do, but if you don??t clean your gutters regularly, you could be asking for trouble. It??s definitely an area you shouldn??t ignore.

      Chris Andrus of Amarillo??s Andrus Brothers Roofing says it??s extremely important to keep them clean. ??When they don??t drain,?? he says, ??you can have rot damage to the wood typically behind the gutters. That??s the most common damage that we see.??

      And this time of the year, you have to guard against ice damming. Andrus says, ??The gutters tend to hold the snow right there at the edge of the roof, and if you don??t sweep it off and get it cleaned, it will back up underneath the back of the house.??

      That??s all great to keep in mind because your gutters are the first line of defense against water problems in your home.

      If you can??t or don??t want to clean your gutters, call on a professional to do the work. They should remove all leaves and other debris from your roof, gutters, and downspouts. They should also check the overall condition of your gutters and make any necessary repairs.

      How much might you be charged for a cleaning? Andrus gave me this estimate. ??Usually it runs under just a minimum fee, and it kind of depends on how much debris is in the gutters, too, but onyour normal house, you??re gonna be somewhere between $150-250.??

      While leaf guards, covers, and screens can help reduce debris collecting in your gutter, you should still check them regularly. Experts say up to 20 percent of leaves and other material can get through a gutter cover.

      And if you do it yourself, beware of some of the dangers. ??I wouldn??t suggest getting on the roof, because you??re gonna be leaning over working in the gutter,?? says Andrus. ??It??s probably safer to work from a stepladder. We see more falls from people cleaning gutters really than anything else.??