Cleaning your gutters can be a job that is full of surprises. Not only are people surprised to learn that it should be done at least twice a year, usually spring and fall, but they are surprised at the weird things they can find up there.
1. Bee's Nest: Bees and wasps have been known to build a nest in gutters, particularly gutters that are not cleaned often (hint, hint). You should always use caution when cleaning gutters and wear gloves, which would lessen the sting if you just happened to stick your hand into a bee's nest. If it does happen, get down from the ladder slowly and carefully. If you are allergic to bee stings, carry an epi pen when cleaning your gutters.
2. Gravel: As you scoop out leaves, twigs, and the occasionally tennis ball from your gutters, you may notice that there is gravel along the bottom of your gutters. At first glance, this may seem odd. Gravel should be on the ground, right?! It is actually a warning sign that the shingles on your roof may be aging. Asphalt shingles have a gravel coating when they are first installed. This gravel wears off over time and is rinsed down into the very gutters that you are cleaning. Call a roofing expert to take a closer look.
3. Trees: This is how you know that your gutters haven't been cleaned in quite a while. The leaves have decomposed and acorns or some other seed pod has taken root. Trees should not be growing in your gutters. Pull them out and make a point of cleaning your gutters more often, at least twice a year.
4. Dead Rodents: It happens. Squirrels, chipmunks, mice, and even possums have all been known to die and accidentally end up in an unsuspecting homeowner's gutters. It is gross, but that's why you should wear gloves for this process. They can protect your hands from dirt, germs, and dead stuff. For the extra squeamish, there is a product on the market designed to scoop debris out of gutters so you don't have to use your hands. It—oddly—resembles the cesta that is used when playing jai alai.
5. Bird's Nest: Birds can find the weirdest places to build nests. While most decide that a high tree branch is a good location, some odd birds pick your porch light, your mailbox, or even your gutters. Before you get all grabby and think you can just yank that bird's nest out, wait. Many municipalities have rules about such things, particularly if there are eggs or babies in that nest. You may be disturbing an endangered species without realizing it. Call your county extension office or a state wildlife agency for more instructions.
6. Money: Just kidding.
The more often you clean your gutters, the less likelihood that you will find any of the above surprises. For more information, reach out to companies like California Gutter Company INC.