Adventures In Gutter Cleaning

Broken gutter

Photo: Gavin Brett, used under Creative Commons

Just over a week ago, my wife went on a cleaning jag. It was one of those moments where you realize you’ve been putting off a major cleaning project and can’t stand it anymore. In this case, it was our bedroom. We live in a four-room postwar cottage. Our bed takes up most of the room, and my wife keeps most of her clothes in the basement near the laundry room. I offered to do this as I don’t mind the idea of dressing in my office, but she gave me the closet when we got married and hasn’t complained once. I’m pretty sure this girl loves me.

At the same time, it means that laundry tends to pile up in a room that is already hard to navigate. As long as we have room for sleep and sex, the room is liveable.

Finally, my wife had had it. She went through the room, shifted some furniture, and managed to organize the laundry so the clothes go back down to the her closet same day rather than weeks later. During this project, she discovered we had a damp corner behind a chest of drawers. I thought this might have been left over from when we had the leaky inlet to the toilet. The problem with that theory is that 1.) there was a mold trail from the ceiling down to the floor in that corner and 2.) we replaced the toilet last February.

“It’s the gutters. I bet they haven’t been cleaned in years.”

“Define years,” I said.

“I think [ex-husband] might have done it before the divorce.” Nita got divorced almost nine years ago.

“So that water has been…”

“Since before Katrina.”


Guess who had a project this past weekend.

Actually, I’d cleaned the front gutter back in the spring. And I did them right before we had the roof replaced three years ago. But the front gutters are easy. The flower beds raise the ladder two feet so that the gutter is less than ten feet off the ground. Doable. Just don’t ask me to go up on the roof. The back gutter?


It’s a good twenty feet up from the patio. Our ladder is not designed to go that high. Get about 2/3 of the way up when it’s extended to reach the gutter and things get shaky. But I promised. I always try before punting and calling a contractor. I even tried to fix the fence once before deciding to let the professionals do it. Still, Friday night came, and up I went. I’d like to say it wasn’t too bad. As for heights, it wasn’t. And if I could anticipate the ladder wobbling, I could tolerate. That wasn’t the problem.

The problem was that the back corner, that same corner where the water leaked into our room, was full of years of decomposed leaves that oozed black sludge and I pulled it out. Yes, I covered my hands. No gutter is worth a repeat trip to the hospital. As I moved toward the downspout (cruelly on the other side of the metal awning), I discovered the gutters had been cleaned since my arrival. The roofers did it three years ago.

Bastards just left all that crap in the back corner.

Thanks, guys.