Proper equipment can make gutter cleaning a breeze

November 03, 2013

Now that autumn has arrived, I'm looking for advice on how to clean the gutters on my house. When is the best time and what tools are needed?

It's the time of year when gutters fill with falling leaves. But it is an important task, both to protect the structure and to remove dry leaves as a fire hazard. Robert Lenney, who invented the Gutterglove gutter protection system, offered this advice to homeowners on his company's web site and online for Consumer Reports. For more tips, go to

•Pick a day when it hasn't rained for a few days if you can, but at least make sure the roof has had time to dry.

•Wear leather rather than cotton or rubber gloves for protection against sharp edges and against substances in the gutters that might produce a bacterial infection or at least leave a nasty smell on your hands. Wear goggles, tuck your shirt tail in your pants so it doesn't catch on anything, and tuck your pants into your work boots in case you encounter a wasp nest.

•Use proper plastic gutter scoops, not garden shovels or kitchen spatulas to avoid the scrapes that can lead to rust. Rather than a leaf blower, use a garden hose with the nozzle on a pressure setting to move debris. A hose can also help unclog downspouts. A small rake will help you remove leaves from along the roof line.

•Ladder safety is paramount in gutter cleaning. Check the footing by jumping up and down a few times on the first rung to make sure there isn't a mole tunnel or loose soil under it. Extend the ladder about three feet above the roofline. Secure any buckets on the ladder shelf with a lanyard. The ladder should sit one foot away from the wall for every four feet the ladder reaches up.

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