Gutter Cleaning Basics – Simple Methods and Tools to Work Safely

Sometimes we put jobs off as they appear to be difficult and dangerous. Gutter cleaning and maintenance is possibly at the top part of the procrastination list but gutters should be cleaned twice a year when possible. The spring cleaning, after the seeds and helicopters come down, is likely the most important. Many seeds float and quickly make their way to the downspout where it will become clogged quickly. In the fall the weather is able to change right away and the cold and wet is miserable and dangerous for ladder climbing. I have been in the gutter repair and maintenance business for around 5 years and I can tell you late spring cleaning is critical to yearly gutter maintenance. We will look at few very simple strategies and tools that can make the task less frightening and somewhat simpler to do.

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The most significant tool needless to say stands out as the ladder. I’ve found an extension ladder is the absolute best type for gutter cleaning as you can get above the gutter and look down into it. Do not worry about scratching the gutter. The coatings they use on gutters are incredibly hard and very few individuals are gon na publicly criticize you about a couple of mars on the gutters of yours. Safety is your main concern and you also do not choose to reach blindly back and over the edge of the gutter. Going up on roof should be stayed away from too: the pitch of the roof top is very difficult to focus on and worse if you are leaning over the edge. The shingles are easy to break off and the boots of yours will gouge away the tiny stones decreasing the life of the roof. You will also need flat wedge large enough to rest one foot of the ladder so it is going to be level; a heavy pair of rubber work gloves and a belt hook to carry a little backyard garden hoe. The area hardware is going to carry many of these items but go to the Yellow Pages and find a ladder and scaffolding supply store. You’ll be glad to find many products the big box stores can’t carry. And remember to wear over-the-ankle lace-up boots.

An extension ladder that extends to fourteen feet will work for an individual story and a minimum of twenty four feet for a two story home. The ladders will have details on the side which has to be followed closely. The tiny garden hoe shouldn’t be much more than three inches across and the handle not around two feet in length. This will be easy to carry in a belt hook or any other tool belt. The heavy rubber gloves are required to avoid being cut by lots of sharp edges and screws inside the gutter. The gloves will even help keep your hands clean and dry (a real blessing in the cold!).

Start at the conclusion of the gutter opposite the downspout. Work your way along reaching out with the hoe but always keep your shoulders within the vertical rails of the ladder. You should be in a position to reach three to 4 feet of gutter from each side at a time safely. Be very careful when cleaning over the downspout. Do not drag the hoe across the opening, instead work with the fingertips of yours to gently reach under the leaves and seeds and push them over and remove. I don’t buy a hose. Hoses are dangerous and difficult to handle on a ladder and simply make things slippery. The hose will also wash an excessive amount of good material into the upper elbows at one time clogging them. Just leave the little bits that do not come out by hand for the rain to gently wash away. Remember your gutters aren’t a medical operating room. I’d never use a leaf blower because these will just force leaves and seeds into the downspout and being on the roof top waving a huge piece of equipment around just sounds like a disaster!

The best thing about utilizing an extension ladder is being ready to look down into the downspout. Thump on it several times and you will find out if it is plugged. Of all the gutters and downspouts I have seen these upper elbows are the toughest places for plugs. If the elbows are riveted together (a rivet looks like a tiny flat disc with a small hole in the center) you will have to drill it out with a 1/8 drill bit using a cordless drill/driver. The downspouts may also be screwed together with self drilling screws that have ¼ inch hex heads. The elbows may have several rivets or even screws and are at times tough to pull apart. In come cases you are going to have to take the whole downspout down by eliminating the straps. The straps and elbows can be re-assembled with the self drilling screws (color matched screws are available at gutter and siding supply houses).

Thus you’re prepared to have your gutters clean and flowing freely. When you haven’t spent plenty of time on ladders, start out by leaning the ladder against your home or garage and practicing a little; get the sense of being on a ladder; ladders are flexible and often will bounce a little. Start with the an easy task to reach gutters around the garage and 1st story; and then work the way of yours up to the higher levels. Use the flat wedge to shim up the ladder if it’s not perpendicular to the ground. Once again, stick to the directions that accompany the ladder.

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