An important aspect of home maintenance is gutter cleaning, whether you’re doing some summer maintenance or winterizing your home. The right gutter cleaning tools make the process much simpler and less dangerous, all while keeping your home’s drainage system clear of debris.
Here, we’ll look at several of the tools used in gutter cleaning.
1. The Right Ladder
In most cases, you’ll be using a ladder to clean your gutters. Having the right type of ladder is key to safety—the wrong ladder could easily result in an injury.
If your home only has one story, a four-footed step ladder is typically best. If your home is any taller, an extension ladder may be necessary. Three-legged orchard ladders tend to wobble too much, so those aren’t recommended.
With any ladder, you’ll want something that’s sturdy without being too heavy. You’ll be moving the ladder around as you go, so light weight is key to getting the job done quickly. Fiberglass is the strongest, but also the heaviest, so many homeowners opt for aluminum since it provides the best balance between strength and weight.
Your ladder should also have a tray or shelf that’s strong enough to hold a large bucket. You’ll need that bucket to hold the debris you’ll collect (unless you have no qualms about lobbing it over your shoulder into your lawn).
2. Gutter Scoop
While a trowel or spatula can work as gutter cleaning tools in a pinch, they aren’t as good as specifically designed gutter scoops. Available at most hardware stores, gutter scoops are specially shaped to match the bottom of your gutter, making it easier to clear debris that has been caked in.
Plastic scoops are best since they won’t scratch the metal surface of your gutters. This is important because it keeps them from rusting out over time.
If you don’t want to spend money on a gutter scoop, a plastic trowel, spatula, or even child’s play shovel can work in a pinch. It will just mean more time on the ladder scraping out clumped leaves and debris.
3. Gutter Tongs
An alternative to using a gutter scoop on a ladder is to get a set of gutter tongs. This tool essentially consists of a pair of tongs mounted on a pole with a lever at the base. To grab debris from your gutter, you reach over the roof with the tongs and pull the lever to close them.
Overall, the Gutter Sense model seems to work best, even if it does does have a slight learning curve to it. It only takes most people about 10 to 15 minutes to get the hang of it, after which it becomes a very quick way to remove clumps of debris from your gutters.
That said, if you want to do some finishing work on the gutters, you may still want to get up on a ladder afterward to scrape out the bottom or spray wash it with a hose. Even so, gutter tongs can be a real time saver, which in turn means less ladder time and lower risk of injury.
4. Hose and Spray Nozzle
Once most of the debris is out of the gutters, many homeowners like to power wash them. The simplest gutter cleaning tools for this job are your garden hose and a spray nozzle attachment. A pistol-grip nozzle will give you a strong stream to wash out dirt, twigs, and leaves without having to move around too much. In addition, you can adjust the stream pressure without fiddling around with it.
When you need to move your ladder, the spray nozzle attachment is easy to hang from the gutter, saving you the trouble of carrying it up and down the ladder over and over.
If you opt for a quick power wash, make sure not to set the pressure too high. Too much water pressure can damage your roof by knocking tiles or shingles loose.
5. Wet and Dry Vacuum
Some homeowners prefer to use a wet/dry vacuum to clean their gutters. This is especially handy with added attachments to extend its reach to your roof. Shop-Vac sells special attachments that can allow you to either blow leaves out of your gutter or suck them in without having to climb a ladder. Just note that if you use the blowing option, you’ll need something to keep the pieces together since they tend to get blown off.
Even with this drawback, it makes it much easier to clear your gutters since you just have to walk around the outside of your home. It’s most effective on dry materials, so if it has rained recently, you may want to consider using a scoop or tongs instead.
6. Hand and Eye Protection
Regardless of the gutter cleaning tools you use, it can be messy work. It’s easy to get debris and dirt on yourself, and there may be other hazards besides.
For instance, birds or bugs may take off from the mess without warning as you clean, so it’s best to have some form of eye protection. Plastic shop goggles will do the job nicely.
In addition, hand protection is a must. Birds or squirrels will almost certainly have excreted in your gutters at some point, so it’s best to keep it off your skin. Thick suede gloves keep your hands safe from bacteria while also protecting them from any sharp metal edges you may encounter.
Right Tools for the Job
When considering your options, you want to pick the gutter cleaning tools that work best for your situation. If you’re comfortable with heights and you don’t have a lot of distance to cover, a ladder with a sprayer or scoop can work really well. If you’d rather stay on the ground, some of the fancier options may be best.