Every now and then, it is worth giving the gutters of your house a good clean. This clears the path for rainwater to flow down properly when it rains, but it also stops your roof from sustaining long-term damage from weighed down eaves and moss, algae or plant growth. The latter can actually be very problematic – if you think about it, you cannot have plants without roots. The roots of grasses, shrubs or whatever other seeds land and take root up there can do damage to the integrity of your gutters.
What is the Essential Gutter Cleaning Kit?
It goes without saying that it is easier to pay somebody to do the job for you. This is no fun, though, and it is not difficult to forgo professional gutter cleaning and do the job yourself, spending not much more on the tools than you would spend to hire someone to come out to you. What is more, the kit that you need is not complicated. With a little ingenuity, you can usually get by with things that are sitting around in your garden shed.
A word about attire: if you can, it is definitely worth putting aside a scruffy or damaged old pair of jeans and a t-shirt for this type of task. You can of course don working overalls, but if you are going to be up a ladder you will want as much flexibility as possible - and more to the point, cleaning your gutters is a messy task. You really should try to avoid doing it in your Sunday best.
For the nimble, a ladder is the way to get at your gutters. There should be a word of warning, though: do not rest your ladder on the gutter. This is a great way to do even worse damage than the plants and gunk you are trying to clear away. More importantly, if your ladder breaks the gutter it is resting on, you could end up in the back of an ambulance. Sometimes with DIY, it is tempting to be lax with health and safety, but up a ladder is really, really not the place. Along the same lines, it is highly advisable to get somebody to hold the foot of your ladder firm while you are up there. This is important if you are using a stepladder, and simply essential if you are using a conventional lean-to ladder. There are far too many cases of ladder falls, and you don't want to be on the list.
How to Clean Gutters from the Ground
If you are on your own and want to get your gutter cleaning task done in a hurry, there are some clever tricks for getting high gutters cleaned without needing to go up a ladder at all. The obvious advantage to cleaning from below is that you are taking a far lesser risk.
In lieu of a ladder, you can get the main part of the job done with any number of extendable contraptions. Anybody with an old fashioned chimney will probably have a set of chimney brushes about somewhere. These can be easily adapted to clear a gutter with. The main thing you need is a strong, rigid scooping device that you can use to shift whatever is sitting inside your gutters without actually doing any damage to them.
Another clever trick is an extendable paint roller. the additional rods will give you the distance you need, and with a little imagination, you can modify the roller attachment to scrape out debris and dirt from your gutter without ruining the roller's usual function. A little preparation before and a bucket of water to clean your gutter cleaning tools throughout the job are both good time investments to make.
One clever YouTube user has a novel idea for how to make sure you get your gutter cleaning work done without missing areas – take a clear plastic bag, place a camera inside and tie it firmly to the roller. Turn the camera on, pass it slowly over the gutter you are getting ready to clean, and voila! You can see where you need to pay more attention. After cleaning, you can equally set up your impromptu spy camera again and quickly see anywhere that you might have missed a spot.
Just as with the ladder, the main concern you should have if you decide to clean your gutters from below is safety. This is not just your personal safety (nobody likes having clumps of moss fall on their head from two storeys up) but also the safety of your building. Few things are more frustrating than taking hours to give your gutters a really thorough clean and then, just as you are finishing, managing to crack a section of gutter or even bring it down. These things do happen, so it is worth taking that little bit more time to ask yourself whether you have done everything in the right order and that you do not rush anything. More haste, less speed is as good a motto as any.