To help you keep your gutters clean, clear, and operating properly--and protect your investment in your home--try these tips for making the tough job of gutter cleaning safer and easier.
Anytime you're working at a height, safety is a key concern. Always use a solid, good-quality ladder to reach your gutters. Be sure to place it on level, dry ground--and have a helper steady the bottom while you work. Safety glasses and gloves are a good idea, too. You'll keep blowing debris out of your eyes and your hands cleaner. And, of course, watch out for power lines.
As we mentioned in our first tip, you'll need a good ladder, safety glasses and, if you choose, gloves. You'll need something to put the gutter debris in, such as a tough, plastic garbage bag or bucket. You'll also need something with which to scoop out the debris. A good one is the patented Gutter Getter® Scoop from Working Products, Inc. You may also want a tool for cleaning out clogged downspouts, such as a snake or coat hanger.
Be sure you clean only that part of the gutter you can comfortably reach from your position on the ladder. When you need to move the ladder, do it. Over-reaching can destabilize your ladder and cause a dangerous fall. You might also consider a special tool to extend your reach. The Gutter Grabber® is a cleaning tool on an extension pole that lets you clean up to 18 ft. of your gutter without moving the ladder--and without dangerously over-reaching.
If you're cleaning in the dry season (you are planning to clean out your gutters before the winter rains come, aren't you?), you may need to wet caked-on dirt to make it easier to remove. Have your helper pass you the garden hose to wet down the dirt as needed. Then simply scoop it out.
Clean gutters won't do you any good without clean downspouts. Downspouts are required to move water away from your house and its foundations. If the spout is clogged, you'll need to gently clear that out, too. A snake or coat hanger, or the handle of your Gutter Grabber® can serve as a tool for pushing the debris through the spout. Follow that with water from the garden hose to flush out the debris. If the clog is far down the spout, you may have to remove the spout by unscrewing the brackets that hold it onto the house. Once removed, you can take it apart and flush the clog.
Your gutters aren't meant to support the weight of a ladder or your body without damage. Never hold onto the gutter or downspout for support. Access your roof from places without a gutter or try a ladder support that allows you to support the weight of the ladder on the roof.
Most homeowners acknowledge that they need to clean their gutters twice a year--once in the fall and again in the spring. However, once you understand the important function gutters provide, you'll understand why it's vital to clean out the gutters anytime they get full, not just twice a year. To protect the value of your home, clean gutters are important throughout the year.
Gutter cleaning is nobody's favorite home maintenance task. But having the right tools and keeping safety in mind can make it a lot easier.