Many homeowners aren’t fond of climbing a ladder to clean their home’s gutters, particularly since it’s nearly at the level of the roof. For the brave DIYers who do, some find themselves in precarious situations because of an unsteady ladder, inexperience, or another factor jeopardizing their safety.
But keeping your home’s gutters free of clogs is vital to them working effectively and allowing for proper water drainage. Otherwise, your home’s roof, siding, and foundation can experience damage.
Still, there are risks to using a ladder. While many homeowners pass the torch to a gutter cleaning company, some prefer to try their hand at clearing their gutters. If you’re a DIYer who’s decided to take on the challenge of cleaning your home’s gutters and want to know how to clean gutters without a ladder, stay tuned.
We’ll show you the signs your gutter needs cleaning and safe ladder alternatives and ground-based techniques to help you tackle the job effectively and safely.
Signs Your Gutters Need Cleaning
Here’s a list of visual clues to look for that your gutters need cleaning:
- Overflows: Overflows occur when gutters become so clogged, water spills over the sides, and gutters don’t empty properly.
- Leaks: Look for leaks around the downspout to the gutter connection. If your gutters are sectional, inspect the unions for signs of dripping.
- Stains: Stains, especially dark ones, usually indicate mold or mildew has formed from too much moisture.
- Dirt and roof granules: Dirt and granules from your shingles are usually heavier than leaves and other debris. Dirt and granules will usually pack onto the bottom of the gutter, adding significant weight.
- Sags or twists: Sags and twisting of the gutters often indicate the gutters have become too heavy for the fasteners. Generally, these areas are also common locations for overflows.
- Erosion: When overflows occur, the runoff water will fall from the lowest point in the gutter and overflow. Falling water can damage the ground and cause erosion of the foundation and landscaping.
- Vegetation: Vegetation growing from the gutters means there’s enough dirt and water in the gutters for plants to survive.
Tools Needed to Clean Your Gutters Without a Ladder
Chances are, you have a few tools around your home that can help clean your gutters without a ladder.
You can rent or buy some specialty tools if you don’t already own them. Follow the manufacturer’s directions closely on any specialty or gutter cleaning tools, as misuse can result in damage and personal injury.
- Gutter scoop/trowel
- Garden hose
- Leaf blower
- Extendable gutter cleaning pole
- Pressure washer
- Alternative devices or gutter cleaning tools like a gutter tong, gutter flusher, telescoping tool, or gutter cleaning wand
Safety Tips for Cleaning Your Gutters
As with any DIY project, it’s a good idea to become familiar with a few safety rules beforehand to accomplish the job without an accident.
When cleaning your gutters:
- Take precautions and have a helper assist you.
- Practice ladder safety, including attaching stabilizers and other accessories.
- Protect landscaping, cars, or other objects below.
- Don’t work in rainy or windy conditions.
- Use the appropriate safety gear and protect your skin and eyes.
Safe Ladder Alternatives
If you choose to DIY for more severely clogged gutters, you can bolster your safety when using a ladder. Just remember only to use ladders that are in good condition. If you are in doubt, hire a professional gutter cleaner.
Here’s a list of devices and methods you can use to make your ladder more stable and safer to climb:
A ladder stabilizer can give you added confidence when climbing to gutters and allow you more freedom to reach without worrying about the ladder sliding and causing a fall.
- Ladder stabilizers come with a U-shaped bracket and wing nuts to remove the stabilizer without tools.
- Ladder stabilizers are lightweight but strong.
- Because the stabilizer is wide, it might make accessing a tight area more difficult.
- Ladder stabilizers can get expensive, especially professional versions.
A clamp can connect the ladder to the gutter and secure the ladder against it.
- Ladder clamps help prevent sliding, making your ladder more stable.
- They are lightweight and can be installed and removed very quickly.
- Ladder clamps are generally used with other ladder stabilization gear, like a ladder stabilizer. The clamps can damage the gutters or roof if too much force is required to keep the ladder in place.
Walkboards are a handy way to clean your gutters if you have two ladders. Walkboards are clamped onto a ladder jack, which is clamped to a ladder on both ends. The walkboards allow you to walk parallel with the gutters as you clean them.
- You only have to go up the ladder once.
- Walkboards prevent fatigue because you aren’t constantly going up and down and moving the ladders.
- Walkboards require two people to set up, so you’ll need help.
- Renting and purchasing walkboards and ladder jacks can get expensive.
Scaffolding is another way to avoid climbing ladders to clean your gutters. But, it can be overkill unless you are cleaning very long gutters and downspouts.
- A scaffold is very stable and strong.
- Like a walkboard, scaffolding reduces fatigue by avoiding many trips up and down a ladder.
- Scaffolding is heavy and requires more than one person to set up.
- Renting and purchasing scaffolding can be cost-prohibitive unless the job is extensive.
Techniques for Ground-Based Gutter Cleaning
Here are a few practical tips if you decide to clean your gutters from the ground:
Use an extension for your garden hose.
An extension tool can change the direction of the water flow, directing it downward, making your gutter cleaning easier if the debris is light enough to float. Gutter-cleaning tools such as telescoping wands, flushers, and tongs can help you clean your gutters more effectively from the ground. Some attach to your garden hose, and some attach to power washers.
Try a garden hose.
Use a garden hose and an adjustable nozzle if water pressure is sufficient. Spray the water onto the roof and wash lighter debris toward the downspout. If the downspout becomes clogged, the gutters may overflow. Then, it might be time to call in a professional.
Use a leaf blower.
Cordless leaf blowers are a good option if the roof and debris in the gutters are dry. Use the same method as a garden hose, and work towards the downspout. Depending on the power of your leaf blower, you can dislodge a clog in the downspout by directing the air upwards. Be prepared for the clog to flow through the downspout if it becomes free.
Attach a gutter cleaning tool to an extendable pole.
This is often the best option when tackling gutters from the ground. There are many tools and adapters to fit an extension pole, which can increase your reach by 12’ or more. Most use a brush to dislodge the debris, but others use scoops and scraping accessories.
Cleaning Gutters from a Roof
Cleaning your gutters from the roof may be necessary if the problem is severe. But remember, working from heights is risky, and falls happen. In fact, even roofers have accidents, particularly less experienced ones who aren’t accustomed to following safety protocols.
Here’s a review of things to do to ramp up your safety:
- Wear the appropriate PPE.
- Use the appropriate gutter-cleaning tools as directed by the manufacturer.
- Utilize ladder stabilizers to ensure safety when going up and down ladders.
- Have a helper on standby in case you need them.
- Consider a professional gutter cleaner to decrease the risk to you.
When Does Professional Gutter Cleaning Make Sense?
If your roof’s design or height makes a DIY project difficult, it may be better to bring in a professional. You can watch them do it, take notes on their processes and tools, and observe how they stay safe. Then, you’ll be better prepared for your gutter’s next cleaning.
Professional gutter cleaning is best when some or all of these conditions exist:
The gutters require cleaning from the roof.
Your roof is two or more stories tall.
You don’t have the proper safety gear and tools.
You aren’t confident in your skills or lack experience.
A warranty dictates the work is done by a professional.
You need a roof inspection anyway.
The cost of potential mistakes ends up being the same or higher than getting a professional gutter cleaning company.
For Gutter Cleaning or Gutter Replacement, Contact Our Pros
Clean gutters are vital to keeping your home’s gutter system working properly and maintaining your home’s exterior to prevent overflows, erosion, water damage, and mold.
While some tools can make the job more manageable when you know how to clean gutters without a ladder, it is an extensive chore for the most seasoned DIYer.
That’s why so many homeowners opt to have one of our gutter cleaners do the job for them. Contact our professionals for a free estimate or to schedule your gutter cleaning. Our dedicated professionals will happily render the premier service your gutters need.
Is there a tool to clean gutters from the ground?
How do you clean gutters that are too high?
Can you clean gutters by hand?
How often should I clean my home’s gutters?
In most regions, late spring and fall are the best times to clean your gutters. You’ll remove the debris collected over the prior winter and catch most falling autumn leaves.