Action Line: DIY gutter cleaning takes right tools
BY PHIL MULKINS World Action Line Editor
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
10/23/12 at 6:45 AM
Dear Action Line: I read your piece on gutter cleaning being too dangerous for us ladder ninnies, but how about a DIY on cleaning rain gutters before winter snows. - S.H., Jenks.
Robert Lenney, GutterGlove gutter guard inventor and a gutter cleaning expert whose company has cleaned more than 6 million feet of gutter since 1996, said, "Cleaning gutters is pretty easy as long as you follow ladder safety basics."
Ladder safety: Always let someone know you'll be using a ladder to work on your roof or gutters. Use a safe, sturdy, four-legged step ladder for single-story homes - with a small shelf strong enough to hold a five-gallon bucket to collect gutter debris. Lash down the bucket with a lanyard. Two-story homes require aluminum extension ladders.
Fiberglass ladders are sturdiest, but also heaviest, and when cleaning gutters for hours on end, muscle fatigue can set in from moving the heavier ladder. So go for the aluminum ladder. Use wooden shims under its legs so it will stand "vertically level," not leaning to the left or right. Secure it at the "point of bearing" (usually the roof guttering) and extend it three feet above that point, moving its base one foot out (from the point) for every four feet of rise (75 degrees).
Garden hose: Use a garden hose with a pistol-grip trigger spray nozzle so you can adjust water pressure with one hand.
Gutter scoop: Scooping out leaf debris is the best method of gutter cleaning. An excellent tool is the bright orange plastic "Gutter Getter" scoop (in most hardware stores). This is unique as its front scooping edge is thin enough to conform to the bottom of the trough, making it easy to scoop even the toughest of debris in any size gutter.
Gloves: Gloves protect hands from dirty, often rotting leaf debris containing bird, pigeon and squirrel droppings. They can also prevent cuts by torn metal shards and gutter screws. Rubber gloves get poked and torn by shards and screws but thick, suede glove material is best as it is superior to cotton, leather and rubber.
Eye protection: This is a must as one never knows what will fly out of downspouts and gutters: rats, birds, frogs, wasps and bees - often leaving at high speeds.
Rake roof: Rake away as much roof debris as will come loose without damaging the shingles and hose down the rest. Leftover debris will dam the valleys causing roof leaks.
Rubber shoes: When walking on the roof for gutter cleaning, wear rubber-soled shoes as they adhere best and prevent slips and falls. Rooftops are moist in the morning, so walk on them after the sun has been up long enough to dry the moisture.
Downspouts: Ensure downspouts are clear. After gutters are cleaned, run the water hose down inside the downspout full-on. If water backs up out of the top, a clog is present. Normally, this can be unclogged by tapping the side of the downspout, but if it doesn't work the downspout must be unscrewed and removed for flushing at ground level.
Original Print Headline: DIY gutter cleaning takes right tools
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