Gutter Cleaning

Dirty gutters

Gutter cleaning and gutter maintenance are an important part of home ownership. Your gutters are the collection system, on the edge of your roof. They are designed to divert water that is running off your roof to downspouts. Without gutters, the water would run off your roof in curtains. Unfortunately, your gutters also collect debris like leaves, twigs, and dirt. If too much of that debris collects in your gutters, there is nowhere for the water to go and gutter cleaning becomes necessary. Gutter cleaning is not a pleasant chore, but it is something that every homeowner has to do for many reasons. This site, will give you gutter cleaning tips and suggestions about gutter cleaning tools. This information could mean the difference between a beautiful home and a disaster.

Why Is Gutter Cleaning So Important?

Although gutter cleaning is a chore, if you do not complete it you could end up with far worse problems. Gutters are the first line of defense against erosion of soil around your home foundation. A gutter system is supposed to carry water running off your roof to down spouts so it does not saturate the soil next to your house. If this soil is saturated, then you run the risk of getting the foundation wet. A foundation exposed to water can lead to a multitude of problems.

When water comes across a barrier, it will look for the path of least resistance to continue. If that barrier is your foundation, water can find its way into small cracks in the foundation. No concrete foundation is going to be perfect and crack free. As water travels into the cracks, it will find another barrier because the cracks do not go all the way through the foundation. Therefore, the water will turn around and flow out of the crack, but it will take small pieces of concrete foundation with it. Every time water overflows your gutters and finds its way into the foundation, it erodes away at it. After enough time has passed, the cracks will work all the way through the foundation and water will leak into your basement. Water in your basement can lead to problems with mold, mildew, and other bacteria.

If your gutters are not cleaned regularly and they start to overflow, allowing water to find its way to the soil directly next to your house can also be a problem. As the soil on top becomes water logged, the water will travel deeper and deeper into the soil layers. If the soil underneath your foundation becomes too saturated then it could give way causing a cave in of your home’s foundation. In other words, your house would collapse into a giant sinkhole and could be unlivable. The picture below gives you can idea of what could happen if your gutters are not properly cleaned and maintained.

Sinkhole home collapse

If your gutters are clogged that means that they are heavy. Too heavy, in fact. The fasteners that are used to attach your gutters to your home cannot withstand the weight of a gutter system full of wet leaves and debris. When your gutters are too full they start to pull away from your house. If they are not in position to catch rainwater running off the roof, the problems to your foundation and possible sinkholes are even more of a concern. Not to mention that a gutter that has pulled away from the house in an eye sore and the falling gutters could get in the way of your security solar lights. Your house will look very unattractive and not well taken care of. If you are thinking of selling your home, gutters that are sagging or out of position could be a deal breaker.

How Do I Clean My Gutters?

Fortunately, the actual process of cleaning out your gutters is not a difficult one. It may be time consuming and unpleasant, but not hard. The tools you need to clean gutters are things that you probably already have around the house. Even though there is specialized gutter cleaning equipment out there, it is not necessary to do an adequate job at gutter and downspout cleaning.

The first thing you will need to do gutter cleaning is a ladder. You need to be able to reach the gutters safely. Make sure that you are using a sturdy ladder and leaning it up against a solid surface. Never lean the ladder against the aluminum and relatively unstable gutter system. The aluminum gutters will buckle under the weight of a person climbing on a ladder. When you climb up the ladder, you will only be able to clean the gutter sections that you can reach. Therefore, you will have to keep climbing down and moving the ladder after you clean each section. An alternative that might make the gutter cleaning go faster is a scaffolding system. Scaffolding is a modular system of pieces made of metal that support people when they are working up in the air. Metal is the most common material of construction, but you can find scaffolding systems made of other materials or a combination of wood and metal. While you will be able to reach more of the gutter system before having to move the scaffolding, there is a downside in that it takes time to construct the scaffolding.

Once you can reach your gutters for cleaning, you will need some kind of gutter cleaning tools to clean out the debris. The cheapest way to clean your gutters is with a pair of work gloves. What? You cannot use gloves to clean gutters. Well, I should say that you need to put your hands in the gloves. That’s right, your hands are an effective gutter scoop. You definitely need a pair of gloves, though. You do not want to be touching the moldy leaves and possible bacteria that have contaminated your gutters. The one problem that you might run into with your hands in a pair of gloves is that your progress will be slow. You can only pick up so much debris at a time with the hand. An alternative to using your hands is using a gutter scoop.

You can buy tools made specifically for cleaning out gutters. They are scoops with high sides to allow for maximum capacity and thin enough to fit into your gutter system. Make sure you measure your gutters before purchasing a gutter scoop because they come in many sizes. Not only will you be able to pick up more debris at a time with the scoop for gutter cleaning, but your reach will be extended. There are long handle gutter cleaning tools that allow you to increase your reach up to two feet in both directions. A long handle and high capacity will make the gutter cleaning process go much faster.

As you are scooping out all of the dirty leaves, twigs, and other debris that clog your gutters, where do you put it. There are two choices. First, you could just throw it on the ground as you go. Then, you can walk around your house picking up the debris later. Or, you could take a garbage bag with you when you go up the ladder. That way, you can throw away the debris as you go. There are advantages to both methods. Not having a garbage bag with you on the ladder allows you to work with both hands more easily. You will be able to clear debris much faster. On the other hand, walking around your house later to pick up the debris on the ground, will just add time to the chore anyway.

Once you scoop out all of the large pieces of debris, you might find that there is a residue on the sides and bottom of your gutters left behind. A slimy layer of mold or mildew could be coating your gutters. While this may not obstruct the flow of water, it will give off an unpleasant odor. It is important to clean this residue out as well. For that, you should use gutter cleaning brushes. Of course, there are brushes marketed specifically for this purpose, but any brush that will fit into your gutters will get the job done. Gutter cleaning brushes with longer handles and a round head are best so that you can reach as far as possible without moving your ladder or scaffolding and so that you can scrub in all directions without having to move the position of the brush in your hand.

Once you have cleared away the large debris and scrubbed the inside of your gutters to get rid of any residues, you will need to rinse. The easiest way to accomplish this task is with a garden hose. Just turn on the garden hose at one end of your gutter system and let the water rinse as it travels throughout. When it completes the rinsing trip, it will run out the downspouts and you will be done.

If you want to skip all the steps that require you to scoop and scrub debris, then you might want to look into using a pressure washer. Pressure washer and gutter cleaning will go together if your clogs are not too severe. You can turn the pressure washer on and spray the high powered stream into one end of the gutter system. The high pressure should be able to loosen any small clogs and carry any debris either over the sides of the gutter or to the downspouts. One problem with this approach is that it could create a big mess. As the high pressure water stream goes into the gutter system, it might spray up over the sides carrying debris and mold down the side of your home. Also, most pressure washers do not have a very long hose or handle so you will have to find a way to bring the pressure washer up to the level of your gutters.

Looj gutter cleaner

If you do not want to wrestle with heavy machinery on a ladder or scaffolding system, then you might look into a gutter cleaning wand. Gutter cleaning wands operate under the same principle as the pressure washing technique, but they are made especially for gutter cleaning. They usually have an extremely long handle so that you can stand on the ground and reach up into your gutters. They spray water under pressure into your gutters in a controlled manner so that there is not too much spill over.

One final alternative is to use a gutter cleaning robot. There are devices out there that are designed to move along your gutter system and clean as they go. Companies like Looj or iRobot make small machines that will fit into the gutters and have brushes on the front that scrub your gutters clean. I would not recommend using a machine like this if you have significant clogs because they could stall the gutter cleaning machine.

Safety Considerations for Gutter Cleaning

Cleaning your home gutters can be a dangerous job. There are a few safety considerations that every home owner must think about. Perhaps the most obvious, is ladder safety. There are literally thousands of ladder industries every year according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. There are even some deaths associated with homeowners not using their ladders correctly or choosing the worn ladder for a particular purpose.

The most important ladder safety tip is that the base of the ladder much be on solid, level ground. Make sure there is no ice, snow, grease, or mud beneath the feet of the ladder. All of these conditions could cause the bottom to skip out from under you when you are on the ladder. Another important thing to do correctly is to place the ladder in the right position. A good general rule is that for every four feet high that the ladder is going, the base should be one foot away from the side of the house. Another important safety tip is to always face forward when moving up and down on the ladder and never take both hands off the ladder. The video above will give you more ladder safety information.

Another important safety tip for gutter cleaning is to always wear gloves. The moist environment of your clogged gutters is the perfect place for mold and bacteria to grow. You want to expose yourself to as little of these potentially harmful materials as possible. Most people, if wearing gloves will come away with nothing worse than a few sneezes. However, if you have a severe mold allergy, you might not want to clean your gutters yourself. It might be better for your health to hire a professional gutter cleaning service.

Gutter Cleaning Services

Unfortunately, for our gutters, most people wait to clean them until there is a problem. The truth is that your gutters should be cleaned twice a year. You should complete this project in early spring to clear out any left over ice and debris that has accumulated during the winter. You should also go through cleaning your gutters in late fall. This is perhaps the most important time of year to clean your gutters because you need to clear out all the falling leaves and things that gather in your gutter system during fall before the melting snows of winter begin to tax your gutters and downspouts. Complete a gutter cleaning project twice a year may seem like overkill, but if you clean them regularly the task should not be too involved any one time. But still, it sounds like a lot of work. You may be wondering if it would be better to hire a professional gutter cleaning service to do the job.

In terms of gutter cleaning cost, it is cheaper to do the work yourself. You only need a few household items and the only real expense is your time. But, that extra time with your children or spouse might be worth it to you. Gutter cleaning services can charge a wide range of gutter cleaning prices. Factors like the size of your house, how many stories your home is, how clogged the gutters are, and whether the downspouts are clear can all effect the price. You might pay anywhere from seventy five dollars to five hundred dollars. It is a good idea to only hire the services of someone who will give you an estimate. If someone claims to give a one price fits all service, chances are that they might not do excellent work.

There is a touchy-feely reason that you might want to clean your own gutters. There is a certain amount of pride that goes into taking care of your own home. When you make a purchase as large as a home, you want to do everything you can to keep that home looking great and in top condition. When you complete a household chore like cleaning your gutters, you feel like you are contributing to the well being of your home and your sense of ownership and pride becomes stronger. The bond between homeowner and home is an important one.

If you hire gutter cleaning services, the cleaning is usually only part of the service. Gutter professionals will also make sure your gutters are attached firmly to your home so there is no separation. Gutters are typically attached to the home with special hangers and the gutter cleaning service will replace them if necessary. They will also level your gutter system so that they are at the proper angles to maximize efficiency. Some gutter professionals actually do gutter cleaning as a side business. For example, some roofing service companies offer gutter cleaning services so a benefit to hiring gutter cleaning professionals is that you can get other necessary home maintenance done at the same time. All in all there are pros and cons of both doing the gutter cleaning yourself and hiring a gutter cleaning professional. I solve this problem by hiring a service once every two years. The other three cleanings I do myself. When the professionals come, they take care of the gutter science, and I just make sure that the clogs do not get too bad in the mean time.

Gutter Guards

If you want to avoid cleaning your gutters as much as possible, then you may want to make the investment into a gutter guard system. Gutter guard systems vary in method, price, and effectiveness. Finding the right gutter guard for your gutters depends on your local weather, foliage, and the pitch of your roof. Essentially, a gutter protection system will allow the water to flow into the gutters, but not the debris that typically clogs them. There are two main types of gutter guards. One is a screen of some kind with holes big enough to let water in but small enough to keep leaves out. These systems will still let in some debris, so you will need to clean your gutters; just not as frequently. The price on this type of gutter protection can range from $250 for a do it yourself project to over $2,000 for a professionally installed option. One popular gutter guard manufacturer is called Amerimax. Hey make a wide variety of gutter systems and gutter protection options.

The other main type of gutter guard works on the principle of water adhesion. A flap of sorts extends from the edge of the roof over the gutters to the edge of the gutter system. As water and debris are running off your roof, the water adheres to the flap just long enough to let the debris fall away over the side of the house and the water to fall into the gutters. This type of gutter guard system can be very expensive. These products cost between eighteen and twenty dollars per foot. An average 1,500 square foot has about 160 linear feet of roof line. That translates into anywhere from $2,880 to $3,200. Nevertheless, most people who have this type of gutter protection think it is well worth it because they practically never have to clean their gutters.

No matter what kind of home you own, a mansion or a cottage, gutter cleaning is an important household chore that cannot be ignored. Make sure that you take care of this task so that your home lasts as long as you do.

Gutter Clutter Buster Review

My overall opinion of the Gutter Clutter Buster (GCB) is that it is a useful gutter cleaning tool for anyone who does not want to climb a ladder to clean their gutters. I was pleased with how easy it was to put together as well as use. Clean up was simple and it doesn’t take up much room when storing. I think the product could be improved with a few simple changes, but overall I would recommend this product considering the price tag.

Unpacking the Gutter Clutter Buster

We tested a Gutter Clutter Buster Kit which includes the GCB tool along with 2 extension pieces. The kit will allow you to clean the gutters on most two-story homes. All three pieces came packaged in a cardboard box that measures 60x14x3 inches. The only other thing in the box was an instruction sheet so there is no extra packaging to dispose of. The cardboard box can be broken down and recycled or kept for storage of the GCG when you are not using it. The unpacking of this product was simple.

Putting the Gutter Clutter Buster Together

The GCB and extension pieces are easy to put together. You just have to push the two together with a moderate amount of force. Do not expect the pieces to overlap too much and do not push too hard. Once the pieces stop moving, then they are together tightly enough to continue. I made the mistake of trying to push them together past the obvious stopping point and then had trouble getting the

pieces apart later. The only thing to be careful about when putting extension pieces on the GCB is to be sure to balance the tool properly. As the GCB system gets longer, it gets a little top-heavy and hard to control. Once you have the appropriate number of extension pieces on your GCB you just connect the bottom to a standard Wet/Dry Vac hose. This connection process is the same as the process used to connect the extension

pieces. Again, be careful not to push too hard or you might have a hard time getting the Wet/Vac hose off of the GCB.


Using the Gutter Clutter Buster

In theory, when you turn on your Wet/Dry Vac, the GCB will act as a long hose extension and suck any and all debris from your gutter system. One of the concerns I had, before we started was that there would be enough suction to pull debris out of the gutter system. This was not an issue. The debris did get pulled into the Gutter Clutter Buster and into the Wet/Dry Vac. When using the Gutter Clutter Buster on gutters that were only one story off the ground, it was easy to control the tool as I walked around the perimeter of the home. One obstacle that I ran into was the gutter clips on the gutter system. Every four feet or so there is a metal clip extending from the house over the top of the gutter and I had to keep lifting the GCB up over the clips every few feet.

The pictures of people using the GCB on their website show the tool being used at an angle, but I found it much easier if the gutter cleaning tool was as parallel to the house as possible. When I walked away from the house and used the GCB at an angle I had a hard time fitting the tool into the gutters. This might not be as big a problem if your gutters are wider, but I just found it easier to use the GCB in a vertical position. I would then sway the gutter cleaning tool from left to right before moving a few feet down and doing it all again.

In this picture you can see where the GCB removed the gutter gravel. The material on the inside lip of the gutter could not be removed because of the overhanging shingles.

Unfortunately, there was not a lot of debris in the gutter system when I tried out this tool. In the front of the house, most of what I got out of the gutters was gutter gravel. In the back of the house, the situation was a little different. First, the gutters in the back of this home are much higher so I needed to use both extension pieces here. The Gutter Cutter Buster was a little harder to control with both extension pieces, so I couldn’t move the tool from left to right as much. That meant that I had to move my position more frequently, and be careful not to let the GCB lean too much in any direction.

When I started using the GCB I noticed that I was collecting a lot of water in addition to the gravel and debris. Since I am using this tool with a Wet/Dry Vac that was not a problem, but it set off some alarm bells. If there was stagnant water in the gutter system, that could mean a clog in the downspout. At this point, I went and got a ladder in order to check the downspout. Sure enough, there was a clog and we were able to correct that problem before any major damage was done or the gutter system over flowed. Without collecting that water with the GCB, we might not have noticed this problem until it was too late.

My main complaint when using the GCB was that you have to look up a lot and I got a bit of a cramp in my neck. Also, my arms got tired after a while when using the tool with both extension pieces because it was a little heavy (7 pounds) to hold over your head for an extended period of time. However, even with the breaks I was taking to relieve my neck and arms, cleaning the gutters was much faster with the GCB than when I have cleaned gutters by hand going up and down a ladder.

Cleaning the Gutter Clutter Buster

When I was finished with my gutter cleaning, there was a lot of debris and dirt water inside the GCB pieces. In order to clean the tool out, I just ran a garden hose inside each piece and the let them air dry in the yard. I then emptied the Wet/Dry Vac into a compost pile and then rinsed it with the hose. The entire cleanup process took less than ten minutes.

Storing the Gutter Clutter Buster

I chose to store my GCB in the box it was shipped in, but you do not have to do that. If I did not save the box, I would have zip tied the pieces together in a bundle for easy storage. You can lean the apparatus up against a wall in your garage or store it on a shelf if you have one large enough. Since each piece of the GCB system is less than three inches in diameter, they are easy to store in a corner or between pieces of furniture in your garage or basement. They are also lightweight so it is easy to lift them up onto a shelf if you need to.

How the Gutter Clutter Buster Could be Improved

The one suggestion I have for how this product could be improved would be to offer attachments for the end of the GCB. The most useful attachment for me would have been a piece that angled the opening about forty five degrees so that I could use the gutter cleaner at an angle with my house rather than walking right underneath. Other attachments like a brush head or a thin piece might help with the collection of gutter gravel or in the hard to reach corners of the gutter system respectively. I am thinking of an attachment collection like what you might find on a vacuum cleaner. While these attachments are definitely not necessary to clean your gutters with the GCB, they might help in certain situations and be a nice added feature.

My overall impression of the Gutter Clutter Buster is that I would strongly recommend this tool for homeowners with one-story homes. It is easy to control when you do not have to put too many extensions on it. You do not have bend your head so far back so it is relatively easy on your body. And, you do not have to work on a ladder which is a plus in terms of time and safety.

I would also recommend the Gutter Clutter Buster for two-story homes. Even though you will need to use more extensions and it may be a little harder to use, the GCB is still far better than climbing a ladder and cleaning out your gutters by hand and then moving the ladder every three to four feet. You will save time even though you may have to take breaks to give your arms and neck a rest.

Unfortunately, I would not recommended the Gutter Clutter Buster for gutters with any kind of gutter guard system. The gutter guards will prevent you from getting the GCB into the gutters. In addition, gutter guards should be preventing the worst of debris from collecting in your gutters anyway so it would be a waste of your money to buy a tool that you will not have to use.

Gutter Clutter Buster Pros

  • You can use it from ground level – no ladder
  • Easy to put together
  • Lightweight enough for almost anyone to use
  • Easy to clean

Gutter Clutter Buster Cons

  • Harder to use the higher your gutters are
  • Neck pains from looking up for long periods of time

If you would like to purchase this product, go here.

Gutter Clutter Buster provided GCT with a sample of their product for testing. This sample product will be shipped back by GCT upon completion of our review.