Gutters are a vital and much under-appreciated part of your house. Gutters keep water flowing away from your house, they are the frontline in the fight against flooding and, when it gets cold enough, ice damage.
Because gutters are around your roof, cleaning them can be a potentially dangerous business. You need to know a little about working at height and if you don’t have the correct equipment then consider access platform hire rather than risking your life.
The right ladder for the job
If you are going to use a ladder, make sure it is suitable. Take good note of the weight limit and stick to it. Wear a good pair of shoes with non-slip, rubber grips. Always keep two feet on the same rung of the ladder. To reach your roof you’ll probably need to use an extension ladder. Make sure it’s in good working order before you start.
Once up to working height make sure you don’t put any sideways pressure on the ladder’s base by leaning outside the ladder’s rails. Always keep a firm grip on your ladder with at least one hand. Stay within safe height limits. In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive says you should never have your navel higher than the ladder’s rails. This usually means you shouldn’t climb higher than the fourth rung from the top.
As safe as the ground underneath you
You are only as safe as the ground on which your ladder stands. Check you have a firm, level resting place that is completely free of debris. Use boards if the ground is soft and levellers if it is not even.
Most experts recommend a ratio of four to one to find the safest angle. That is four units up for every one out. So if your gutters are 16 feet high, then your ladder should be four feet or more from the wall at its base.
Avoid resting the ladder on the gutters themselves if you can. The wall is much better. Using a friend to weight the base of the ladder should be considered a last resort. It is better to secure the ladder to something permanent and strong.
Gloves a necessity
You will need a good pair of strong protective gloves to get amid the much that can accumulate in gutters.
A hose – which adds another trip hazard to your ladder – will let you test if you have cleared the downpipe fully. A friend is helpful here, as it’s much safer to turn the water on once you’re at working height. A plumber’s auger, or snake, should be used to clear any blockages. Always attempt to clear from the ground first. If you need to use the auger from your ladder, make sure you can get a secure resting place close to where you are working.
Avoid carrying heavy tools up your ladder if possible. If you need them, use a tool belt to keep your hands free. You shouldn’t need much more than a trowel and a brush.
A sheet of plastic or drop sheet will make clearing up easier and will protect windows or any plants that could be showered.
This is an important job, but it’s not as important as your health and safety. If you don’t have the right ladders for the job then consider access platform hire before you consider taking risks with exceeding your equipment’s limits.