Clogged gutters might not seem like a big deal, but they may be an active and successful breeding ground for dangerous bacteria. One of the most dangerous of these is the bacteria that cause Legionnaires' disease. This condition is difficult to manage and can be deadly. Here's what you can do to protect yourself and your family from this danger.
What Is Legionnaires Disease?
Legionnaires' disease is a disease that is spread by the Legionella bacteria. It will cause a variety of symptoms, including a fever, headache, aching joints, decreased energy, lack of appetite, chills, difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, and sometimes extremely high fevers (often as high as 105 degrees Fahrenheit).
It is spread primarily when someone ingests infected water or inhales the mist of that water. Generally people (rightfully) worry about it infecting their water supply, but there is also a chance that it could be growing in your clogged rain gutters.
How Could It Grow In Gutters?
Clogged rain gutters will eventually start gathering water that will remain stagnant due to the clog. Legionella bacteria grows most successfully in stagnant water, in temperatures between 68 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. In the summer, your roof is going to get a lot of sun, giving it plenty of heat.
It's also likely that leaves and insects will help create the type of sediment that helps promote the growth of algae, flavobacteria, and Pseudomonas. These are necessary for the growth of Legionella and create a dangerous breeding ground. Gutter cleaning is the best way to get rid of this problem.
Cleaning Your Gutters Safely
Before cleaning your gutters, make sure to wear proper safety gear to avoid infection. Goggles, a face mask, rubber boots, long pants, a shirt with long sleeves, and a rubber apron should be more than enough. Place a bucket underneath of your gutters and take another with you on top of the roof. Use a small shovel or hand spade to break apart the clogs in your gutters and throw the gunk in the bucket on the roof.
Perform this task slowly, so that the water from your gutters doesn't suddenly rush out and overfill the bucket. Once you've cleaned all your gutters and the water has been drained, run an anti-bacterial soap through the gutters to ensure that any lingering bacteria is destroyed. Carefully seal up both buckets and take them to a medical waste depository.
If you're worried about performing this procedure properly and don't want to risk infection, call a professional gutter cleaner. Tell them why you're getting the gutters clean so that they can take appropriate safety measures.