How to Clean Gutters on a Ladder
Climbing on a ladder to clean the gutters isn’t as safe as cleaning them from the ground since there’s always a risk of falling. To reduce the risk, it’s essential to use the right ladder. Avoid using a stepladder, which can tip.
Instead, use a sturdy extension ladder that has been fitted with stabilizer arms. These arms can be purchased separately and attached to standard extension ladders. One such example is the Werner True Grip Stabilizer, which braces the ladder against the siding and keeps it from slipping to the side. In addition, it’s a good idea to have an assistant on the ground who can hold the ladder if necessary to stabilize it and hand up the tools as you need them. The following methods are well suited to cleaning gutters from a ladder.
Roof and Gutter Cleaning With a Leaf Blower
Many leaf blowers come with a nozzle attachment designed to release a powerful air stream, perfect for blasting leaves and twigs out of the gutter. Position your ladder so that you can work from one end of the channel to the other, blowing out obstructions as you go. Block the downspout first with a rag or old towel to keep from blowing leaves into it. As a final step, flush out any lingering leaves or twigs with a hose.
Cleaning Gutters With a Power Washer
Has it been a long while since you last cleaned your gutters? A layer of dirt and debris may have built up over time. Blast it away with the fine-spray nozzle of your power washer. (This type of cleaning can get messy; be prepared to rinse the roof and exterior walls afterward.) For clogged gutters and downspouts, in particular, there’s no better recourse than a pressure washer. Simply point the nozzle down the hole and rinse the shaft until the water can run freely through it.
Clearing Gutters by Hand
To clean gutters by hand, you’ll need a ladder, bucket, gutter scoop (or garden trowel), and heavy-duty work gloves. Little by little, take out the leaves and debris, placing what you remove into the bucket. Finally, flush the gutters and downspout with water until you are certain both are functioning correctly. Tip: If your downspouts are clogged and you don’t have a power washer, try busting through the obstruction with a small plumber’s snake, then rinse with a hose.
Preventing Clogged Gutters
An ounce of gutter-clogging prevention saves a lot of time and goes a long way toward keeping gutters clean and free from debris. To reduce the undesirable task of gutter cleaning—or prevent it altogether—consider installing a screen, such as the Raptor Stainless Steel Micro-Mesh Gutter Guard. It allows water to drain through the screen while blocking leaves and twigs.
Other types of gutter guards, such as the LeafGuard gutter system, direct running water into the gutter but harmlessly toss leaves and debris over the edge. This type of system requires professional installation and is extruded on-site to fit the length of the roof edge so there are no splices in the guttering, which can lead to leaking and dripping.
FAQs About Gutter Cleaning
Though we’ve outlined various methods for cleaning gutters, you may still have some questions about the process. The following frequently asked questions may clarify certain points about this outdoor chore.
Q. How often should you clean your gutters?
Once per year is usually sufficient, after leaves fall in autumn. This is when gutters are full of leaves that should be removed before winter.
Q. What is the best thing to clean gutters with?
The best gutter cleaner depends on the amount of leaves that accumulate and how easy it is to access the gutter. If you’re cleaning from a ladder, a scoop is handy. If you prefer to clean the gutter while remaining firmly on the ground, a telescoping wand is a better choice.
Q. Is it OK to walk on the roof to clean gutters?
It isn’t safe. While some professional gutter cleaners may walk on the roof, the average homeowner shouldn’t try it. Follow some of the methods listed above for safer gutter cleaning.