Gutter Cleaning Safety

Man cleaning gutters on a ladder

Autumn’s here and it’s the time for maintenance. When the weather starts getting increasingly wetter, your gutters will become increasingly more important. If you are about to clean them up yourself, you should know a few things in order to keep yourself safe.


Appropriate Shoes

To minimise slipping risks you should wear shoes with rubber soles as they offer the best stability.

If you plan to walk on the roof you should wait at least until late morning, to ensure there is no moisture that can cause you to lose your footing. Wait until the sun is high in the sky so it had plenty of time to dry off the roof.


Protective Gear

Gutter debris can often hide nasty surprises like bird or rodent droppings, that are full of potentially dangerous bacteria. Not to mention the unpleasantness of soiling your hands with then. A good pair of gloves will also protect your hands from painful cuts.

A pair of thick work gloves is the best choice for this job. Leather gloves while sturdy, are not as handy and have the habit of shrivelling up after they’ve been dried after the cleaning is done. Cotton gloves absorb water and expose your skin to the previously mentioned gunk. Rubber gloves are out of the question, because they will easily get torn and will not protect your hands at all.

Protective goggles are also something you should invest in. You never know what might fly out at you while cleaning the gutters. Anything from birds and frogs to bees and wasps is a possibility. Wasp especially have a nasty tendency to go for the eyes, so it’s best to do everything in your power to prevent an eye injury.


The Right Tool

There are a lot of options on the market, including ones mounted on tall poles that allow you to do the job without climbing a ladder. However those tend to be unwieldy and you have to climb the ladder anyway to check on the quality of your work. Of course there are more high tech options like gutter vacuums. While offering ease of use, they’re not worth the investment for the casual user. Renting may be an option though.

For the regular homeowner we recommend a plastic scooping tool. They are softer than metal ones and will conform to your gutter no matter the shape. This makes it easy to scoop out anything that may be lodged there.

We don’t recommend using metal scooping tools as the can damage the seams or scratch the bottom. This can in turn make your gutters susceptible to rust, which will eventually require you to change them completely.


Ladder Safety

When working with a ladder it’s always best to have someone holding the ladder or at least watching you.

Choosing an appropriate ladder is also important. It must have a shelf that is strong enough to hold a full bucket. The safest way is to keep the ladder there and close to you so you can minimise the risk of it falling. Reaching too much for it can cause you to lose balance.

If your home is a single story house a four legged step ladder will be your best choice because they are sturdy and stable. However if you need to work higher get an extension ladder. We do not recommend wooden ladders as they often get unstable and rickety with time. Fibreglass ladders are the strongest, although they weigh a lot. Our best pick is an aluminium ladder as they offer both adequate support and lighter weight.

Before climbing the ladder always inspect it first. Make sure there are no bolts or screws loose, and that there are no defects. When opening the ladder always check if the hinges are securely locked into place.


Clean the Rooftop First

There is no point in cleaning your gutters if the next rain or wind gust is going to clog them up again. So, before you start cleaning the gutters rake the debris off your roof first.

Besides that, any roof debris can cause erosion and even roof leaks over time if left to pile in nooks and crannies around your roof such as the base of your chimney and near HVAC vents.


Mind the Power Lines

If there is a power line cable that connects from the pole to the roof of your home always carry out a visual inspection of the cable. Weather and nearby trees can cause wear and tear on the cable’s insulation.

If there is damage to the protective wire insulation do not attempt to repair it yourself. Call a professional electrician to do it.

Do not do any gutter cleaning until this problem is fixed. Especially if the weather is wet. Water is a dangerous conductor of electricity.

Always have in mind any electrical cables when you are about to clean the gutters as they are a serious potential threat to your health.


Clean Downspouts

After you are done cleaning the gutters make sure all downspout are not clogged. Run a water hose down the sprout at full pressure. If you see water rising up it means you have a clog.

Tap the side of the downspout and repeat the water hose procedure. This is the easiest method of unclogging. If this doesn’t work the downspout has to be unmounted from the wall and flushed from the bottom up.

If the downspout connects directly to an underground drain it has to be disconnected. This is to ensure the clog won’t move underground where it’s much harder to deal with it.

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