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Get Into the Gutters

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Hate cleaning your gutters? Besides hiring someone else to do it for you or climbing on the roof yourself, there’s one more option: Use a robot.

The company made famous by the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner, iRobot, has launched a new product for this purpose. The Looj 330 robot ($299.99) can travel through gutters on its own, brushing away dirt and leaves and saving the homeowner the hassle and dangers inherent in this important (but annoying) chore.

Of course, not everyone can cough up a small fortune to get the gutters clean to prepare a house for winter. Home-improvement experts have tips for making gutter cleaning a simple and effective process.

For instance, make sure to clean the gutters at least twice a year, in the spring and the fall, which help you avoid expensive home repairs such as basement leaks, a cracked foundation, roof leaks or home-destroying insects.

• Watch those leaves: Robert Weitz, certified microbial investigator and principal of RTK Environmental Group, an East Coast environmental testing service company, warns that you should never throw the leaves you’ve dug out of your gutters next to your home. The debris will eventually rot and could grow mold that can easily make its way into your residence.

• Remember the downspouts: Don’t just clean your gutters. Weitz says that downspouts are just as important. If they’re not cleaned of leaves and debris, they can back up, causing water to pour out of your gutters and along the foundation of your home. Too much of this water and you could end up with a damp basement.

• Be careful with that ladder: Set up your ladder about an arm’s length from your home’s corner downspout. Never rest your ladder directly against the gutters; you could end up in the hospital after a nasty fall.

• A final rinse: After the gutters are clear of debris, the work isn’t done. Weitz recommends to rinse the gutters with a garden hose. This will remove any debris that was missed.