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Domestic Gutter clearing - part 1



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Gav

Domestic Gutter clearing - part 1

 

Introduction

 

It’s an often overlooked maintenance chore for homeowners and landlords to check and to keep house guttering & downspouts clear and free flowing. Generally people don’t give it a thought until they visually see they have a problem normally in heavy rain. The added weight on blocked guttering can often lead to failure of the guttering brackets, joints and warp plastic guttering. In the worst cases can actually fall away completely from the building. Not to mention blocked and overflowing guttering & downspouts can lead to expensive repair bills due to rainwater not being diverted away from the structure of the building.

 

 

Most people due to the inherent danger of working at roofline height using ladders to check & clear guttering and downspouts would prefer to pay someone to have their guttering maintained as is a difficult and dangerous task especially when access is an issue for instance over pitched ground floor extensions, above conservatories etc. Sadly a number of people each year get badly injured and killed attempting to clear guttering.

 

So as a window cleaner you have been asked by a customer can you clear and/or clean their guttering. Great you think as I can earn a bit more money. No problem I can do that I hear you say.

 

Now take a step back and ask yourself the following questions:

 

1. am I insured for gutter clearing/cleaning work not just public liability but includes property being worked upon?

 

2. do I have the right equipment and tools for the job especially to overcome awkward access issues?

 

3. can I do the job as safely as possible without putting myself at extra risk?

 

If you answer "no" to any of the above questions then would be wise you address them before attempting to take on any gutter clearing/cleaning work.

 

I've started this gutter clearing blog that some may find over the next few weeks helpful and hopefully will end up being a useful one stop resource for gutter clearing related information. Would also like members input too so don’t be shy to use the “discuss resources” button to add your comments, questions and experiences.

Written by @Smurf

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Smurf

Thanks @Gav for reminding me as I suppose I need to write part 2 when I have some time on my hands.

 

In the meantime if anyone would like to ask any questions please feel free to ask.

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Gav

No problem. I have moved the lost from blog back into forum areas and ditched the blog.

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Smartiedude

Smurf, I am thinking of buying an Ankalad Ladder Stabiliser. They look great. What do you do if the gutters of the home your working on have to be accessed by a ladder used on a sloped or uneven floor surface, are you still able to use the Ankalad Stabiliser on a slant? Any feedback is most appreciated.

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Smurf

Yes you can upto a point as the stabiliser legs are adjustable. I say upto a point as you have to screw your loaf if trying to set it up on say step sloping banks. The ankalad is still the best bit of kit I have ever bought as well as a microlite standoff.;)

 

Smurf, I am thinking of buying an Ankalad Ladder Stabiliser. They look great. What do you do if the gutters of the home your working on have to be accessed by a ladder used on a sloped or uneven floor surface, are you still able to use the Ankalad Stabiliser on a slant? Any feedback is most appreciated.

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Smartiedude

Thanks that's helpful, I have my eye on them.

 

I have a number of customers asking to have the gutters cleared and / or cleaned. I want to try and make it easier and quicker, because to be honest it can take some time depending on how badly neglected they are and I have a few to do.

 

So I have another question, what do you think of the ProGutter telescopic pole extention tools for reaching and clearing jobs? Do you or your friends know anything about them, whether they are strong and tough or flimsy and likely to snap? The reason being is that some of my clearing work tends to be quite heavily soiled and really I need something to reach it that wont break no matter how heavy the clearing is to do. Your feedback is most welcome. So is anyone else's'.

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Smurf

If you take a look at progutter facebook page you will see some pics I sent Danny. Need to scroll down a fair bit but look out for ones with the redish wfp and progutter tool clearing gutters & roof valleys https://www.facebook.com/progutter

 

I've given my progutter tools some real abuse and not broke one yet ;)

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Smurf

Domestic Gutter clearing - part 2

 

My answers to part 1

 

1. am I insured for gutter clearing/cleaning work not just public liability but include property being worked upon?

Yes I am and would recommend http://www.gleaminginsurance.co.uk

 

2. do I have the right equipment and tools for the job especially to overcome awkward access issues?

Yes as I've found no job is the same so I always carry the right equipment & tools to complete the task in hand.

 

3. can I do the job as safely as possible without putting myself at extra risk?

Yes as every job I conduct a site survey (risk assessment) to ascertain the best working methods, safety equipment required and tools to use.

 

Any questions so far?

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Smurf

Domestic Gutter clearing - part 3

 

Gutter clearing by hand using ladders.

If anyone has tried just using ladders to clear guttering they will know how precarious and awkward it can be trying to reach into gutters especially on 2 storey deep soffit guttering. Most window cleaners work on their own so the risk of a ladder fall is greatly increased when working from ladders attempting to clear/clean guttering. Falling from any height even ground floor guttering you can get very seriously injured with life changing results or if you are really unlucky die from your injuries. The risk is greatly increased when working at 2 storey roofline height.

 

Best Practice that works for me.

 

Do

check if all areas of guttering are accessible by ladder safely. If not consider alternative methods like using a guttervac instead.

check were the ladder needs to be set around the property also the ground/surfaces are suitable to place the ladder properly

check weather conditions when (rain) - surfaces can become slippery when wet.

check weather conditions (wind speed) - rogue gusting high winds can easily take someone off a ladder.

use a suitable length ladder for the task

check the ladders that it's in a safe condition to use also any other safety devices you are going to use.

use a standoff to help stabilise the top of the ladder to help reduce the ladder sliding sideways

use a ladder safety device at the bottom of the ladder to stop the ladder kicking backwards/sideways.

use your loaf and stop the job if you feel unwell or weather conditions change for the worst.

 

Don't

take chances

still attempt to do the job if it's unsafe to do by ladder

set the ladder on dodgy ground/surfaces without using suitable ladder safety devices

rest the top of the ladder on guttering or fascias that can and do give way.

overreach... instead stop and move the ladder over or use a pole & gutter tool for awkward areas.

 

Ladder stability and positioning the top of the ladder is the key for me to attempt to clean/clear guttering safely. I've found this to be the safest ladder set up to date and also make the job so much easier to do.

tn-P3210003.JPG.735074ec075f843c8f8ef1371b53c00a.JPG

Microlite Standoff - the only type of standoff that can be used on roof tiles that is Class 1 rated in the UK.

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Ankalad stabiliser - stabilises the bottom of the ladder to prevent backward slip, sideways slip and also take the bounce out of the ladder.

 

Hope this helps?

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Smartiedude

I do have another question actually, have you personally had an accident doing these kinds of jobs before? What other approaches have you previously taken in the past? I am relatively inexperienced judging the wealth of information you are providing, so it's good to know this stuff. Thank you.

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Smurf

Sorry I should have mentioned the majority of my work includes clearing and cleaning gutters on domestic properties not window cleaning. Therefore I've quickly learnt from experience including near misses how to make the job easier and most importently safer to do whilst working on my own.

 

Using a ladder is common sense really but people do get injured and some sadly die each year so thought I would write this to share how I work as safely as I can. After all we all want to come home safely at the end of each day.

 

I do have another question actually, have you personally had an accident doing these kinds of jobs before? What other approaches have you previously taken in the past? I am relatively inexperienced judging the wealth of information you are providing, so it's good to know this stuff. Thank you.

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cheapncheerful

two likes for da smurf in one post...gotta be good....thanks for giving great advice as usual..:)

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keir

Smurf how do you find the gutter tools? I am tempted to either buy the full set or make them myself, i have an idea i would like to try.

Also after doing 2 decent gutter jobs yesterday in the torrential rain, looking at the pictures of your microlite ladder thingy i really could of done with one on both jobs, are they ok on marleys/redlands as well as blue slate?

And last question i dont think i can justify the expense of a gutter vac, so how do you keep your receptical for the gutter cr@p close by? I tend to use my window cleaning bucket on the roof behind the ladders! But if i had a microlite ladder thing it would make life so much easier

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Tuffers

@keir, I bought one Pro Gutter tool and ended up buying two more. They are very handy for pulling / pushing the muck over connys where a vac could get to, but not be able to suck it out. A bit steep for a piece of plastic IMO, but well handy.

 

http://progutter.co.uk

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Smurf

Those progutter tools are very handy to carry in the van as I do use them alot. Best go for the full set as you will need them which save messing about trying to make some that will not be up to the quality and durability of those progutter tools.

 

The mircolight standoff should not damage tiles as long as you set it right. Mind you old slate tiles can be a bit dodgy as can be very brittle as I've found out...Oops! :D

 

I would not be able to do alot of awkward bits on homes without using a guttervac so yes I would say they are worth it.

 

Not sure what you meant by the receptacle close by? If you mean clearing gutters by hand I keep empty kiln dried sand plastic bags for gutter debris rather than using a bucket. Or if very bad I tarp the ground below and drop it down also into a hedge if close by. If very wet I sometimes find it easier to use the guttervac hose and suck it out instead whilst up me ladder.

 

You can't really get away with just using a guttervac from the ground I've found as they have limitations on what they can do. As for instance blocked downspout bends I often need to take apart if found to be very badly blocked. Likewise sods particularly in corners are also a real pain to try get out by just using a guttervac.

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Smurf

They are well worth the money in my opinion @Tuffers as are very strong and durable. I've not broken one yet and give them plenty of abuse :)

 

@keir, I bought one Pro Gutter tool and ended up buying two more. They are very handy for pulling / pushing the muck over connys where a vac could get to, but not be able to suck it out. A bit steep for a piece of plastic IMO, but well handy.

 

http://progutter.co.uk

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keir

Cheers for the link tuffers, yeah not cheap but i would only need 3 of them, so can they be fitted onto a wfp pole? I have an old brodex that never gets used

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