The best Gutter Cleaning Tools Situations for Multiple uses
Gutter cleaning tools fall into several major categories, each with its own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to your outdoor cleaning needs, personal preference, and gutter situation.
Most people understand the important role that gutters play in protecting a home from water damage. Gutters collect runoff water from rain or melting snow, and carry it away from the walls of the house, while simultaneously preventing it from pooling at the base of the home where it can adversely affect the foundation. Therefore, it’s important to keep the gutters clean and clear.
Most people are also familiar with the fact that gutters tend to fill up with leaves and other organic debris, and occasionally they get so stuffed that you can’t help but see a nice fall ensemble of reds, oranges, and yellows peeking over the edge, reminding you that once again, your gutters need to be cleaned.
Sometimes it’s best to just release a high-pressure stream of water and blast all unwanted debris out of the gutter with good old-fashioned H2O. You can buy extension poles and curved units to add on to your existing power-washer, or for those who don’t have one already, a device like the Karcher Follow Me K3 can be equipped with a right angle extension wand for an extra $50, allowing you to power wash the gutters without climbing a ladder.
Get ready to wash, sweep, and rake the area around your home after a good gutter cleaning, because the high-velocity stream of water will make debris fly all over the place. An additional benefit of a power washing device is that it can also be used for cleaning other areas of your home, such as the driveways, sidewalks, and siding.
There are also gutter cleaning “wands” like the Orbit 58543 Telescoping Gutter Cleaning Wand with Ratcheting Head that is similar to a power washer, and their exclusive function is to spray water into the gutter to clean it out, inspiring a unique design with a ratcheting, telescopic head.
Scoop or Grab Tools
Some tools scoop, push, or grab debris from the gutter; some of these allow the addition of an extension pole so that you can clean the gutters from ground level. These tools are most useful if the debris is relatively loose in the gutter and does not require a lot of force to dislodge it. Manual versions are cost-effective, although they will take a little more labor on the part of the homeowner
Robotic versions are available for those who may have trouble wielding a manual version or if you need a bit more power. However, they have drawbacks. They can get stuck on heavy debris and may require you to climb a ladder to dislodge and replace the unit in the gutter. Robotic tools also have moving parts that can damage old or worn gutters.
Compressed Air Tools
Like pressurized water, compressed air provides sufficient force to dislodge wet and packed debris. These tools do an efficient job of cleaning the gutters. Most of these tools attach to leaf blowers, so you’ll need to have a blower available. These tools are unlikely to damage old or worn gutters though you may need to be careful with the amount of pressure applied in those situations. With these compressed air tools, you avoid getting wet, but you will have to contend with flying dust and debris which can be a problem if you have allergies. Eye protection is a must with air-driven tools. Ground clean-up is also inevitable and pressurized air may blow the debris around a wide area.
Bagless Canister Vacuum Action Kits
These tools literally suck debris from the gutters. These kits typically consist of specialized attachments for a shop vacuum. If you already have a wet-dry shop vacuum or think you will use one on a regular basis for other tasks, this may be a good investment. With tools attached to a vacuum, you will not have to worry about cleaning up the area after you have finished cleaning the gutters. You can simply empty the vacuum canister into your trash can, and you are done. The shop does an efficient job of cleaning the gutters in most situations as they can dislodge both wet and dry debris. Vacuum tools are also less likely to do damage to old or worn gutters than are the tools that use air or water pressure.
However, if you don’t already have a shop vacuum for which gutter cleaning tools are available, this type of tool is a fairly expensive option. Additionally, the tubing for the vacuum systems can be fairly heavy and hard to manage if you are on the ground vacuuming gutters on a two-story house.
Gutter-Related Vacuum Accessories
If dry debris like leaves, twigs, and pine needles constitute the bulk of what’s filling up your gutter, you might consider taking a regular old leaf blower or shop vac (you know, that barrel on wheels that looks a little bit like R2D2 from Star Wars) and attaching some extensions and curved parts to the end, so you can reach up into the gutters without needing to climb a ladder and blow some hurricane-force winds over that stubborn organic debris
While this won’t be a practical solution for cleaning your gutters of ice or snow in the winter months, it does facilitate a much easier spring and fall cleanup from the comfort of sea level (especially for those who don’t like heights).
Pressurized Water Devices
Compressed water provides enough force to dislodge debris that is wet and/or packed into your gutters. Water is effective and pressurized water can be used for other cleaning tasks, washing patios, patio furniture, sidewalks, and walls, making the tool a good investment. Pressurized water is a more versatile tool than is pressurized air which is mostly used for leaf blowing and gutter cleaning. They can be hose attachments or they can be stand-alone devices
Some users object to getting wet on chilly days. It is almost impossible to avoid being hit by water as you spray it into the narrow confines of the gutter. While these tools use extension poles or a series of pipes to reach gutters from ground level, they can be heavy and unwieldy. If you do not have sufficient upper-body strength to control a pole or tube that is being moved or flipped around by water pressure (think of a fire hose), then these tools might not be your best choice. Also, note that water spreads the debris around and will require you to sweep, wash, or rake the area on the ground below the gutters. Because of the pressure required to clean the gutters, it is possible for these tools to damage old or worn gutters.
Before cleaning gutters, it’s worth assessing their condition. If the gutters have seen better days, it might be better to replace them. Certain issues are fixable, like leaks and loose brackets. Dents and holes could be a different story. A dent in your gutter can lead to a backup very quickly, as it will affect the slope of the gutter, if only for a very small space. This change in pitch will collect dirt and debris, creating a dam that obstructs flow. While clearing that dam will help, the fix is temporary and a backup will likely recur. Holes will drip in wet weather and can cause damage to your foundation over time. You can use a sealant to patch the hole, but replacing the gutter might be a better option for large holes.
Safety should also bear weight on which tool you select for your gutter cleaning task.
The integrity of Your Gutters
Before you select a tool, you’ll want to examine the condition of your rain gutters. If they are heavily rusted or corroded or if they have visible holes, you’ll probably want to replace them rather than clean them. If the wear and tear are marginal, you’ll want to select a cleaning tool that does not exacerbate the damage. For instance, water or air under high pressure may damage areas with rust or corrosion, possibly creating holes in the gutter. Tools that scoop, grab, or vacuum debris may be safer in terms of maintaining the integrity and utility of older gutters
Don’t forget about personal safety considerations when selecting tools.
When there are power lines near or adjacent to the gutters or roofline, you will want to select tools with insulating materials, wear shoes with rubber soles, and avoid using water as the cleaning agent to avoid serious electrical shocks. If you are not comfortable with and capable of climbing ladders and balancing near the top of tall ladders, you will want to select a gutter cleaning tool that has an extension pool to let you reach the gutters without standing on a ladder. Should you select a tool that uses pressurized air or water to dislodge the debris, you will want to wear safety goggles to protect your eyes, because the debris will be blown around.
Certain types of products won’t work without the additional necessary equipment. For instance, pressure washer kits require a pressure washer. To blow leaves out of a gutter with a wet-dry vac kit, unsurprisingly, a wet-dry vac is necessary. General must-haves include gloves, eye protection, a garden hose, and a garbage bag for debris. For blowing your leaves out of a gutter, it’s a good idea to keep a rake handy as well. Keep in mind that regardless of the gutter cleaner, you’ll probably still need a ladder at some point. It’s entirely possible for a branch or large obstruction to lodge itself in a gutter, so it’s not always feasible to clean them from the ground.