Spring Gutter Cleaning: Is it Cheaper to Do it Yourself or Hire a Contractor?

by Jessica Sommerfield · 5 comments

Gutter cleaning is one of those dutiful bi-yearly tasks that come 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 taller 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. You can also 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 dollars in financial investments plus your own labor.

The Risks

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 $200 and $300 for a 1,500-square-foot home, and $250 to $400 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. There could be a difference in quality and liability though. 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.

The Difference?

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. The benefit of buying it all yourself, of course, is that you only need to buy the equipment once. On the other hand, you’ll need to find a place to store it all. Ladders can take up quite a bit of garage space after all. So what’s the conclusion? 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.

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  • Randy says:

    I enjoyed the savings of doing it myself . . . until last August when my gutter collapsed, sent me down one story onto the ladder, and sent me to the emergency room for $49,000. (Ok – insurance paid all but around 1K of that.) Anyway – this really careful guy – – – is now paying $200 a cleaning and is really, really grateful that I only have scars and some residual pain in my broken toes. The neck problems we can’t necessarily trace to the fall.

  • Wendy Littleton says:

    While it may be cheaper to do it yourself, hiring someone may be easier in the long run. By hiring a company to do it for you, it saves you time and you don’t need to worry about falling off the ladder.

  • Rick Mayhew says:

    Or… get gutter guards. If they cost $800 to buy and install, then at $100 per year for gutter cleaning, you’d breakeven in 8 years. Plus, your gutters would always be open/clear. Costco currently (April 2017) has 100 ft of gutter guard for sale at $200. Prices will vary depending on the style you choose.

  • terdralyn says:

    My youngest son (24) likes being up on the roof, so he cleans the gutters twice a year. About 12 years ago I paid a man $75 to clean my gutters, and I wasn’t happy with the results. Nine years ago, another man charged me $50, and he did a good job. I say if you can do something yourself, save your money and do it. In this case, if you’re afraid of heights or don’t have a long-enough ladder (and you won’t have use for one other than gutter-cleaning), go ahead a pay someone else to do it, but make sure you check prices first.

  • Mike says:

    Call me weird, but I prefer walking along the roof line with a leaf blower over working from a ladder. I get vertigo on ladders and feel unsafe, but oddly feel great standing on the roof!

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