Who Should Clean Your Rain Gutters?
In a previous post I discussed how important it is to keep your rain gutters clean and water free flowing out the downspouts. Now that you understand the reasons why it is necessary to clean your gutters, the next decision to be made is who should clean your gutters? There are a couple choices you have, do it yourself (or significant-other), ask a friend or neighbor to do it, handymen and landscapers often offer this service and finally hire a gutter company that specializes in gutter maintenance. I will discuss the pros and cons of each potential choice below.
While cleaning your gutters yourself may sound like a reasonable chore to do or have your significant-other do, quite often this is the worst possible choice. Being on a ladder or step ladder is a very dangerous activity unless you have been properly trained in ladder safety. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission states that an average of 165,000 emergency room visits a year are caused by ladder falls. The main reason someone would choose to clean their own gutter is to save money, or as an emergency repair to prevent damage to their property, but if you or your loved one were to suffer a serious injury or fatality would it really have been worth it. What would a debilitating injury cost if you have to miss work for any period of time? I can tell you that hiring a gutter company is not that expensive. Just recently a man I know who works for a gutter company that does cleanings as an estimator was cleaning his ex wife’s gutters when he fell off the ladder and broke his ankle. This is a man who knew the dangers, thought he could do it and now has pins in his ankle and has his son driving him around to estimates so he does not miss work.
Friend or neighbor
Having a friend or neighbor clean your gutters has the same risk of injury or worse as having a family member. There is one additional risk that you have to consider, if your friend or neighbor were to get hurt do you think they would take their injury and loss of work and quality of life lying down (pun intended). Unfortunately, today more often than not they would retain legal advice and file suit against you. As a property owner you are liable for injuries sustain while someone is helping you around the house. As in the previous example, hiring a professional gutter company is an affordable option and protects your family and friends from catastrophic injuries.
While most handymen and landscapers are required to have liability and workers compensation insurance to protect you from possible liability if they or an employee were to get injured while working, the truth is a lot of contractors do not carry the proper insurance or they do not carry adequate insurance. Let me explain, insurance carriers insure companies for particular activities that are common to the business they are in, they assess risk and base the coverage and premium on that activity. If your landscaper is insured to mow lawns, plant and trim shrubs, maybe even apply fertilizer, do you think they are insured to be on ladders to clean gutters? As stated above, ladders are dangerous, so insurers assess a risk premium (cost more) if a company is going work on ladders. If the landscaper, handyman you hire is not insured to be on a ladder and someone is hurt on a ladder, you the homeowner once again become liable for any injury on your property. Do not put your most valuable assets at risk by hiring an under insured or uninsured handyman, landscaper to clean your gutters when you can hire a professional gutter company that is fully insured to protect you, your loved ones and your home.
Hiring a Gutter Company
There are a lot of gutter companies that offer gutter cleaning services to their customers. I will discuss here what you should look for when hiring a gutter company to clean your gutters. Insurance is a must, get a copy from the underwriter showing that the liability and workers-comp. insurance is in effect when they do the work. How long have they been in business? Your home is usually one of your biggest assets; you don’t want inexperienced people working on it. Do they do the work, or do they hire subcontractors? If they hire subcontractors; that opens up a whole new set of issues, but for this discussion you must get a copy of the insurance from the subcontractor in addition to the general contractor. Will the gutter company inspect your gutters and notify you if they see any problems with the gutters that need to be fixed or replaced? Are they a gutter company or a roofing, siding or window company that says they clean gutters but they really want to replace your windows or roof? How do they clean your gutters? Some companies use leaf blowers that leave a big mess on your lawn, some clean and bag all the debris by hand and then flush with running water to ensure the water is free flowing out the downspout. I recommend that you hire a gutter company that does its own work, no subcontractors, cleans and flushes the gutter system, and is a full service company so if a repair or replacement is needed they can and should inform you. Cleaning prices for home will vary on a number of factors, how much gutter do you have? How high are your gutters? What is type of roof do you have? How often you have your gutters cleaned? Despite all of these variables, hiring a professional gutter cleaning company that is insured and experienced in cleaning your gutters is money well spent when you compare it to the risk of injury and lawsuit of the other alternatives.
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