“Help, I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!” or Gutter Cleaning and Ladder Safety Tips

Another fall project, cleaning the gutters!!! I know, it’s hard to contain your excitement. Listen, I’ll be honest. This job sucks. Here’s the thing though. You can clean them now or clean them when they are wet, soggy, partially frozen and the temp is at or below freezing. That really sucks! The other alternative is to skip if completely and watch water pour over the edge of your gutters when we have a big thaw after there has been a foot of snow on your roof and promptly dampen your basement. Better yet is to have the gutter tear off your house because it is full of ice and gets too heavy since water will not drain. Hmmmmm, the job is sounding at least doable now!

First of all, let me say that I am not a sissy when it comes to heights. That being said I still sometimes get nervous up on a ladder. If you are overly nervous, have some weird inner ear problem or have freaky high gutters, please hire it out and don’t think it makes you any less of a “DIYer”. Some people are just not good on ladders and should barely be walking upright let alone hanging off a 24’ extension ladder.

OK, you’re still reading. This means that you are extremely bored or you want to give it a go. The first important step is ladder placement. Find a relatively flat spot in the yard for the feet and make sure that the ends are both flipped the same way. I recommend turning them to the more spiky way for harder dirt and grass.

Flip up the feet so they dig into the dirt.

Next we have the angle of the ladder leaning against the gutter/house. The rule of thumb that I learned a long time ago is to stand up straight with your feet under the bottom rung, stretch your arms out in front of you and you should be able to just touch the ladder. If the ladder is too steep it could fall back. If it is too low of an angle (would this be acute or obtuse, just wondering?) the feet could slide out from under you.

Determining the proper angle for the ladder.

Now, I will leave it up to you on how to protect your house/gutters from scratches or damage. There are pads you can buy or things you can improvise to do this which you can figure out, I have faith in you.

At this point just get at it. Move the ladder as needed. Do NOT reach! I just use my hands and hold a bucket to put the gunk in. You can use a gardening shovel or again, someone is ALWAYS willing to sell you a specialized tool that you will then have to store somewhere for the spring. I can find other much more interesting gadgets to buy personally. Some obvious pointers to also keep in mind (but fully knowing that you will probably disregard at some point); do not climb ladders in flip-flops, try to hold off on drinking till after you are done, try to do this during periods of no rain/snow/lightening, if a door opens into your ladder make sure that no one will open it, and lastly please stay away from your power line! Look, I have done some if not all of these stupid things except for the power line thingy. That is not something to play with. Remember when you were little and someone got you to touch your tongue to the end of a 9 volt battery? Well, this is nothing like that! This can be the “kill you” type of shock.

Hopefully this is somewhat helpful or at least slightly entertaining. If you have ANY questions at all or I didn’t cover something you wonder about and it keeps you up at night,  please leave a comment in the comment section at the end.


Enjoying a homebrew with my office staff AFTER cleaning my own gutters.

Thanks for reading,

Travis “That Home Inspector Guy” Moyer

About Travis "That Home Inspector Guy" Moyer

I am a certified home inspector, rehabber, landlord, carpenter, handyman and generally inquisitive person who wants to know how everything works. I love to educate other DIY homeowners and potential homeowners about projects that they may be interested in.

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