Tools to clean Gutters: which tool do I need and why?
There are a number of tools to consider if you are looking to purchase something to help clean your gutters. But you should take the following points into consideration as you are looking at different tools.
1. Do you have single-story gutters or two-story gutters? If you have single-story gutters, there are a number of possibilities, including grasping tools, rake-like tools, and blowers. The Gutter Whiz, pictured below is a good example. If you have two-story gutters, the options are much more limited.
2. Do you want to climb ladders? If you have one story gutters, climbing 8 to 10 feet may still feel reasonable, but just about everyone knows somebody that has fallen from a short ladder and hurt themselves. And falling 20 to 22 feet from a two-story gutter level is almost certainly going to cause significant injury. Many people will elect not to climb that high.
3. Do you want to invest in a ladder or some other tool? A good ladder that will reach two stories will probably cost on the order of $250-$300. It would probably be prudent to have somebody support the ladder underneath you if you are not very confident. If you will use that ladder for other tasks, it may be worth the investment, but you have to decide if you're going to climb that high on a regular basis or find some other way, or hire out the job.
4 Do you have a power washer? If you do have a power washer, the powerfit gutter cleaner, pictured below, will reach 12 to 18 feet. It costs about $135 with the extensions, and you have to have a pressure washer, but it can work if there are minor amounts of debris in the gutters. If there are a lot of old wet leaves in your gutters, making it wet with the water-based tool may not be your best option.
5. Do you have a leaf blower? If you do have a leaf blower, several manufacturers will make plastic tubes that will allow you to reach single-story gutters. Worx or Craftsman sell them for about $25-$40. The Worx unit is pictured above. However, if you have two story gutters, the Gutter Viper is the only blower tool that will reach 25 to 27 feet, which makes it unique in this category, in the sense that it will reach two stories, even some three-story gutters.
And you stay on the ground, with any of these leaf blower attachment, which is an advantage.
6. How much time do you have? The grasping tools, like the Gutter Whiz, pictured above, may take quite a while to clean gutters that are full of leaves, and it may be difficult to know when the gutters are clean. You'll spend quite a bit of time "feeling around" for leaves. We don't recommend hose attachments, like the gutter master. Water makes it all the more difficult to clean anything more than asphalt sand.
7. How will you know when the gutters are clean? With a blower system you will have the satisfaction of seeing no more debris blow out of the gutters when they are clear, but it still may be difficult to know if the downspout is clean. With the Gutter Viper (pictured below) , there's a mirror on the undersurface of the tool which will allow you to see that the downspout is clean as well. The other tools don't have mirrors.
In summary, for single story gutters, if you want to climb a ladder and you have minimal build up, a ladder may be fast. Graspers and rakes are slow. Blowers work well, and are fast.
For two story gutters, there are limited options to reach that high. Pressurized water based systems are messy and make thick debris heavier. The Gutter Viper leaf blower attachment will reach high gutters, and keep you on the ground. If you use a ladder, be very careful.
We hope that the majority of people with gutters will be able to successfully use the Gutter Viper to clear the gutters. We've used it on gutters with small trees growing in the debris, and gutters with standing water/debris. But if there are very difficult gutters, and you absolutely must use a ladder, here are tips from the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety:
What should you do to safely secure extension ladders?
- Place ladders on a firm, flat surface and be sure the footing is secure.
- Erect extension ladders so that the upper section rests on (e.g., in front of) the bottom section. This placement means the bottom section "faces" a wall or other supporting surface (see figures below).
- Place the ladder feet so that the horizontal distance between the feet and the top support is 1/4 of the length of the ladder. The ladder will be leaning at a 75 degree angle .
- Raise and lower ladders from the ground. Ensure that locking ladder hooks are secure before climbing.
- For access to an elevated work surface, erect ladders so that a minimum of 1 m (3 ft) extends above a landing platform. Tie the top at support points.
- Use care when getting on and or off the ladder at the top or bottom in order to avoid tipping the ladder over sideways or causing the ladder base to slide.
- Brace or tie off the ladder near the base. If there is no structure to tie off to, use a stake in the ground.
- Leave all tie-off devices in place until they must be removed before taking the ladder down.
- Maintain the minimum overlap of sections as shown on a ladder label. Refer to safety regulations.
- Set up barricades and warning signs when using a ladder in a doorway or passageway.
These and other tips can be found at the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety.