Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cleaning it out

Note: Sorry for the lack of updates recently. I could give excuses about how I was out of town for 10 days, and then out of town for a weekend, and how the semester has been busy, and stuff like that. But instead I'll just blame my lack of updates on my continuing quest to beat Super Metroid.

It hasn't rained a lot in our state recently, and by that I mean that the half-inch of precipitation we got on two separate days last week was the first time it has rained in months.  But when the clouds gathered and the showers came, it was almost like Christmas morning. I stood in the living room and just watched the brown grass in our back yard soak up the water, and could almost feel our big ol' Chinese Pistache tree drinking it all in.  Then I noticed that on one side of the window a small waterfall had formed, and realized it had been entirely too long since I had cleaned the gutters.  So last night I busted out a couple of my trusty tools in the garage and set about making things right, so the impending precipation that is forecast for the weekend might drain properly and away from the house foundation.

When we first moved in I must admit I had no idea how to clean the gutters. This sounds kind of dumb, but it's one of those homeowner things I never really thought about because it just didn't affect me.  I guess when I was a kid my dad must have cleaned the gutters from time to time, but I can't remember helping him.  And when we lived in an apartment up in Minnesota I didn't really have a reason to clean the gutters because the maintenance dudes took care of that sort of thing. So three years ago when faced with this situation I grabbed a ladder, some gloves, and spent an hour crawling around the roof just scooping dead leaves and muck out with my hands. It was crude, but it worked.

Then I found this thing while browsing at Sears:

The Shop-Vac gutter cleaner!
I don't know if I have mentioned it on this blog before, but a shop-vac is one of the most useful objects a person can have in his or her garage.  It's hard to explain exactly why, but there are all kinds of situations in which the best solution is "just get out the shop vac." I once used mine to find a screw that fell out when I was replacing a part on my barbecue grill--by vacuuming about a square yard of the lawn and sifting through the debris on the driveway.  And it turns out shop vacs are ideal for cleaning gutters, provided you have an attachment like the one above.  But if you do, don't use it like the guy in the picture, who is using it with his shop vac on reverse to blow flotsam and jetsam out of his gutters.  I like to use mine to actually suck up all the muck and gunk, because blowing it out means a good portion will end up on the roof and then right back into the gutters during the next rain.

"But wait a sec," you might be saying. "Won't this ruin the filter of my shop vac?"  No, not really.  Not if you have a handy-dandy air compressor! Just take off the filter and blow it out real nice and good for a minute or two. It won't be as good as new, but it will get rid of much of the dust, grit, and particulate matter that accumulates after heavy use.

This gutter cleaning method isn't as fast as hopping up on the roof and scooping everything out manually, but when paired with an iPod and a fresh supply of TWiT podcasts, the chore can be done in an hour or so, and you might learn a few things along the way :)

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