One of the worst things you can do for your house is to ignore one of the worst jobs around your house: cleaning out the gutters.

One of the worst things you can do for your house is to ignore one of the worst jobs around your house: cleaning out the gutters.

It’s not like we don’t know they’re clogged. One look tells us the billions of maple seeds that fell last month now are spouting trees. Then it rains, and the water cascades down the sides of our house.

The dangers of this are just as evident. If you have water in your basement, the first place to check is the gutters and down spouts. If you see water damage on ceilings and outside walls, ditto the check. These are damages that only will get worse and can result in thousands of dollars in repairs.

Water and gunk piling up in there can be so heavy it rips the gutters off the roof.

Gutters were invented to funnel roof water away from buildings. Each spring and fall, they fill with leaves, twigs, seeds, acorns, whatever. These clog the down spouts, resulting in permanent standing water in the gutters.

This pooling is the perfect mosquito incubator, warm sun and funky water. Skeeter-borne West Nile Virus already has been found in some areas. You don’t want to mess with that.

When it rains, the water piles up even more. It can back up under the roof and into the house.

Meanwhile, the stuff is rotting, creating a smelly, black gunk, which is very efficient at keeping a gutter stopped up. When the maple seeds sprout, they consume all of the gutter space, totally damming it.

The easiest way to cope with this is to hire a person handy on a ladder. Some yard-maintenance companies and window washers are getting into this service.

Lawn blowers come with angle attachments to blow out the junk. These work best when the leaves are fresh and the seeds are not sprouted.

The best cleaning tools are your hands. Wear rubber gloves and put a bucket on your stepladder. Then begin nature’s nastiest task.

If your gutters are clean but the water is not flowing, you have a clogged down spout. The easiest way to clean this is to disconnect it, if that’s possible. Otherwise, run a hose down it with the water on to force out the crap.

If that doesn’t work, you have a clogged drain line to the street. Try working the hose through it starting at your house. If that doesn’t work, try a drain snake. If all else fails, you may need to replace the line.

There’s always a debate about when to do the cleaning. Some folks do it after the leaves are down in the fall and after the seeds are finished in spring. That’s a fairly good plan, but if you see water cascading off the roof, you need to clean immediately.

Metal gutter guards can cost thousands of dollars. Plastic ones are a lot cheaper and can be purchased at hardware stores and installed by yourself.

One caution: Stay off extension ladders if you’re not experienced with them. They’re always dangerous, even to people who understand them.

Contact Jim Hillibish at jim.hillibish@cantonrep.com