Gutter cleaning is one of those dutiful bi-yearly tasks that comes with homeownership. To protect your house from water damage, the common recommendation is to clean your gutters at least twice a year to remove leaves and debris, and even more frequently if you live in an area with many trees or high annual rainfall. Now that it’s time for a spring clean-out, which option are you going to choose: to do it yourself, or hire a contractor?
At first glance, it makes sense that it should be cheaper to do it yourself, but there are several reasons it might not be as much of a difference as you’d think. Before you set yourself to this unpleasant task for the sake of saving money, let’s compare the financial costs (and risks) of cleaning those nasty gutters out yourself versus hiring a handyman or gutter contractor.
The Cost of Cleaning Gutters Yourself
Cleaning gutters might be a nasty job, but it’s not technical, so many hands-on homeowners choose to tackle the task themselves. What’s the cost? Well, first, the work depends on the size of your home, especially whether it’s one level or two stories. A two-story home not only means more footage of gutters; it means you’ll need a bigger ladder.
Second, it depends on what materials you need to purchase. The average extension ladder can be rented for as cheap as $25, but if you need to buy one, it’ll range from $50 to $200 depending on the features and quality you want. Then there’s the cleaning equipment. You can purchase a gutter kit for around $30 that includes all the tools you’ll need, or purchase a debris bucket, a trowel or garden spade, and a hose separately. You might also need basic tools to disassemble downspout elbows and clear bad clogs.
If you don’t already own any of these pieces of equipment, you could be looking at a few hundred dollar investment, plus your own labor.
In addition to the up-front expense, there are other financial risks to consider when you clean your own gutters (besides your personal safety – ladders can be dangerous!). If you’re not experienced, you could damage your gutters while trying to clean them; and, without a trained eye, you could miss important clues about problems that later escalate into expensive repairs. For instance, your gutter channels might be allowing water to back up into your roof and cause damage, or to pool around your foundation and cause damage there.
The Cost of Hiring a Handyman or Contractor
Current estimates on the cost of gutter cleaning range between $135 and $210 for a 1,500-square foot home, and $155 to $255 for a two-story, 2,500-square foot home. Prices go up from there for three-story homes, more square footage, and special circumstances like cleaning under gutter guards or clearing obstructions.
These are rates for a professional contractor. A handyman – more of an hourly jack-of-all-trades but master of none – will almost always be cheaper, but there could be a difference in quality and liability. Professional gutter cleaners are licensed and insured, while a handyman may or may not be. With both, it pays to do your homework with the BBB and read as many reviews as you can find.
Looking at these numbers, if you have a small home and a simple gutter cleaning job, it might cost you about the same to purchase all the equipment as it would be to hire a contractor or handyman to do it for you. It all depends on your experience, your physical condition, your comfort level, the amount of time you have to work with, and, of course, your budget.
Cleaning the gutters yourself to save some money is a noble ambition, but crunch your numbers – it could be just as costly as hiring someone to do it for you, without the advantage of a freed-up weekend and a money-back guarantee.