Home safety isn't always about locked windows, doors and alarm systems. In fact, one of the most critical components to overall security are the rain gutters. These are designed to keep water flowing away from a house, so excess moisture doesn't end up inside where it doesn't belong.

However, without proper maintenance and cleaning gutters can easily fail. Even if a strong storm blows through, the homeowners should always consider making sure the gutters are in top shape year-round. If there are any questions about gutters and downspouts, a property inspection could help identify problem areas around the house.

Always plan for the worst case scenario

Sometimes even a well-intentioned homeowner runs into dangerous situations. While a home inspection professional can figure out hazards in many different locations, residents should also be prepared if the worst happens. 

For instance, in some cases the gutters fail, according to Popular Mechanics. This could happen during a severe storm, when its reliability is most important. If the proper tools and preparations aren't ready, it could be a difficult task getting the system back up and running while water pours down everywhere. Homeowners should always do what is safe in this situation, which might not be the best fix in the long run. After the storm passes it can be easier to repair the gutters correctly.

One person's gutters failed and the foundation drainage was quickly overloaded due to a storm, the news source noted. As a result, water was pooling dangerously close to the house and something needed to be done. The quick solution was to remove the broken gutter and dig small drainage ditches in the backyard. That caused the water to disperse, saving the home from more damage.

In order to solve a sticky situation, homeowners should have bad-weather gear, boots, ladders, ropes and other tools nearby. Those who are prepared for the worst-case scenario are more likely to handle it better. Shovels are also handy to have stored in an easy-to-access area, and they may be quite useful when recovering from a gutter emergency. A property inspection can also point out where home systems may be weak or failing, and recommend any fixes to avoid future problems.

How to keep gutters clean, working

Total gutter failure doesn't have to happen to anybody, but it could without the proper maintenance and cleaning required. A number of homeowners may want to ignore these components because climbing up on a ladder and getting dirty isn't something many people find enjoyable.

However, it should be done at least twice a year, according to home improvement professional Bob Vila. Clogged gutters can overflow or result in ice dams. Either way, without a working system the water that is supposed to be funneled away from the foundation will just end up inside. A home inspection is a great method to learn where issues lie, and if homeowners aren't comfortable doing the work they should hire help.

A lot of different techniques are available for those who want to clean the gutters, Vila explained. Shop vacuums with gutter attachments, extension poles and manual labor can all get the job done. Regardless of method of choice, homeowners will have to climb a ladder to get up there. Therefore, safety is always a priority.

A good rain storm is a great time to check out the gutters. Leaks can be obvious at that time, and each location should be marked for later repairs. Gutter caps and other screens may be a smart investment, but they don't prevent all leaves and debris from getting in. A property inspection at any time during the year will also help homeowners understand any concerns about their houses.