Most homeowners know that proper gutter maintenance is crucial. It’s not just a matter of aesthetics, either; while it’s certainly true that a clogged or dirty gutter system decreases your home’s curb appeal, it can also lead to serious water damage, either for your home itself or for your landscaping. Ensuring that gutters are properly cleaned and maintained, then, is something any homeowner should prioritize.

With that said, it’s not just important for gutters to get cleaned—it’s important for them to get cleaned properly! The problem is, many homeowners have never been exposed to the best practices for gutter maintenance, and myths and misinformation are in abundance.

Here are four commonly-made gutter cleaning mistakes, which even homeowners with the best of intentions can stumble into.

Mistake #1: Failing to clean your gutters frequently enough. Gutters should be cleaned once a year, at the bare minimum—though really, it’s best to keep an eye on them and ensure you’re scooping out pine needles, leaves, and debris when necessary.

Mistake #2: Forgetting to clean out your downspout. Many homeowners believe that gutter maintenance is as simple as clearing the debris out of the gutters themselves—but it’s also important to make sure the downspouts are free and clear of any build-up.

Mistake #3: Neglecting to check for leaks. When you’re up there cleaning your gutters it’s an ideal time to check for leaks. Particularly, check along the seams of the gutters.

Mistake #4: Damaging your gutters while cleaning them. This may be the most common error of them all—and very easy to make! Ensure that you lean the ladder against the house itself—not the gutters. The weight of the ladder can do severe damage to your gutter system!

It goes without saying, of course, that all of these errors are easily avoided with a gutter cleaning prevention system like Leaf Slugger—one that ensures your gutters are always clear of debris, that prevents leaks, and that is constructed to protect your home