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Guide to Gutter Cleaning

Why is Gutter Cleaning So Important?

Gutters are one of the most affordable methods for protecting homes and buildings from the elements, but only if they work. Clean gutters direct water from the roof and away from the house, protecting the roof, siding, wood under eaves, interior walls, flooring, and landscaping from damage and costly repairs. Having gutters cleaned is a lot less expensive in the long run than having to deal with the damage that clogged gutters can cause.

Most importantly, homeowners should not wait until after a problem arises to have their gutters cleaned. It’s better to get on a maintenance program with a reputable, professional cleaning contractor and determine how many cleanings that particular homeowner really needs. Regularly scheduled maintenance gutter cleanings can save significant money in the long run.

When Should Gutters Be Cleaned?

Fall and spring generally are the times of year when gutters become the most clogged due leaves, blooms, pine needles, etc. Those homes that have a lot of nearby foliage or are in areas with four distinct seasons generally need to be cleaned more often than those without.

Proper maintenance is less expensive in the long run than catastrophic failure. Maintaining gutters throughout the year not only will help prevent clogged gutter-related damage, it often costs less to have them cleaned should the homeowner hire a professional to do it.

Cleaned gutters not only help prevent problems with the home, they help promote a healthier home environment. And along those same lines, hiring a professional rather than doing it themselves is an investment in their family’s wellbeing. One slip from a ladder or roof could result in expensive medical bills, weeks off of work – or much worse.

How to Clean Gutters: Our Recommendations

Our Top Recommendation: Clean from the Ground!

We highly suggest using the Gardiner Pole System with a gutter-cleaning setup. It’s faster, easier, and safer — keeping you off of ladders. Gardiner’s durable, lightweight poles let you reach a wide array of heights. Best of all, the same Gardiner pole you use for gutter cleaning can be used for waterfed pole cleaning or interior dusting – just change out the attachments.

Add on the compact IPC vacuum and you’ve got a gutter cleaning system that’s ready to take on the toughest of jobs. The IPC Gutter Vacuum is versatile, powerful, and easy to use, with plenty of power to clean rain gutters from the safety of being on the ground.

The vacuum consists of 3 powerful 800 watt motors and pack a punch drawing up to 20 amps. This vac is more than enough to clear the gutters of any debris. (Side bonus, change the filter to a HEPA filter and you can clean high indoor commercial ceilings!)

We also offer a few other from-the-ground products:

Gutter Tongs:This lightweight gutter cleaning tool lets you clean gutters from the ground, even second story gutters. Just attach to an ordinary extension pole, then use it to grab even the smallest of obstructions, including pine needles! The Tongs can also clean beneath supports without making a mess.

Gutter Ball:This tool attaches to the end of a pressure washing wand.Lift it up and over into the gutter, then use a slight see-saw action back and so the Gutter Ball’s nozzles will life the gutter debris up and over the gutter. The tool’s patented, bilateral nozzle design assures that debris breaks free and is launched onto the ground, not the roof.

Second Most Recommend Method: Cleaning from a Ladder SAFELY

If you’re going to use a ladder, make sure you implement best practices by doing it correctly and following OSHA’s guidelines. In addition to maintaining three points of contact (generally two feet and one hand), remember that ladder placement is also vital to safety. Here are some products we recommend to help you stay safe and to make your gutter cleaning job easier:

Sky Genie Ladder Hook: The hook attaches your a rigger’s belt, which then attaches to the ladder rung. This allows you a third point of contact – complying with OSHA’s ladder safety guidelines – when you can’t hold on with both hands. When combined with the Ladder Lock System, you can even work with both hand off the ladder when needed.

Ladder Lock System: A simple-to-use safety tool that helps stabilize your ladder at the top. Ladders should be placed so that there is 3-feet of ladder extended above the roof line. The Ladder Lock System’s latch connects with a rung near the gutter, and a clamp connects to the gutter to secure the ladder against it. The ladder lock’s stability is important because you will be reaching and don’t want to over reach and cause the ladder to lean.

Ladder Standoff: Having a standoff allows you to rest your weight on the roof line rather than gutter, and helps stabilize your ladder for safety. In gutter cleaning, the standoff is often set against the roof, just above the gutter, so that the gutter is protected from the weight of the person on the ladder.

Leg Levelers: It’s very rare to find a completely flat surface in a yard, which is why leg levelers are so important. They help you get even footing before climbing that ladder. Ladder levelers are valuable additions for both sectional and extension ladders alike.

Mount easily to all ladders with three bolts. Replace existing feet with heavy-duty swiveling steel feet with rubber pads. Extends simply by pressing on lower foot pedal, then releases easily. Simply press the release lever, which causes the leg to draw back up.

The Gutter Tool: 

The Gutter Tool helps you significantly extend your reach — cleaning up to 20 feet of gutters at a time — so that you don’t have to move or climb up and down your ladder nearly as often. The tool fits on most standard window-cleaning poles, letting you drag debris towards you.

When you run into a gutter hanger nail, simply flip the pole over and use the other side to push the debris past the nail, then flip and drag some more. You can also hang the tool on the rungs when going up or down, keeping your hands free for safety. The robust, lightweight design helps minimize arm and shoulder stress and maximize the tool’s longevity.

The Gutter Getter Scoop: This durable polypropylene gutter scoop is great for removing mud and muck. Its flexible tip conforms to any sized gutter, the extended tongue reaches beneath gutter supports, and its narrow heel makes it easy to pull the loaded scoop from the gutter. The high handle position protects hands from scrapes and scratches.

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Tips & Tools for Cleaning the Downspouts

If the gutters are wet – and there hasn’t been a recent rain – it means there’s a clog in the downspout somewhere. Check the elbows first. That’s where most clogs happen. You can test the downspouts be dropping a penny from the top. If there’s a clog, clean the spouts first.

When cleaning the spouts, we recommend a few products:

The Gutter Cane: Developed by AC Lockyer over 20 years ago, this tool was designed to rinse gutters free from residual chemicals. Simply hang the gutter can on the gutter while attached to a garden hose and flush the gutter with large amounts of water. This renders what flows from the downpouts as harmless to landscaping in and around the property being treated.

The Gutter Downspout Snake: This tool, which is about a foot long helps make water flow freely, and is much less time consuming than taking a downspout apart. One end screws to your garden hose, while the other side has a ball on the end that creates pressure to flush downspots.

How Do I Remove Those Ugly Stripes on Gutters?

Often referred to as “tiger stripes” or “zebra stripes” by industry members, those ugly black stains on gutters are the result of a chemical reaction between the asphalt in roof shingles and the anodized aluminum in gutters. Because they are not just stains, traditional house washing chemicals used for removing mold, mildew, and other contaminants won’t budge them.

The black streaks are caused by an electrostatic bond that must be broken in order to remove the stain, very similar to the way that road film sticks to vehicles. We recommend specially-designed products like Gutter Zap and Gutter Butter that are made to break that bond and remove those stripes. (We’ve also found that adding 4 oz. of Gutter Butter to your housewash mix will melt spider webs on contact!)

The dilution for depends on the oxidation level on the surface. The key is to keep all surrounding surfaces wet. Apply your gutter cleaning product in sections by scrubbing in with a brush (we recommend the ), then allow a short dwell period of no more than five minutes. Then simply rinse with a garden hose that has an attached. Typically, one application is enough.

For applying the products, the Bi-Level Brush is an excellent choice to use in conjunction with an extension pole to reach most gutters fro the ground.