Cleaning the gutters is one of those tasks that no-one enjoys but everyone has to do from time to time. If you live in a house with at least two storeys, cleaning the gutters will mean that you are working at significant height. Not taking the proper precautions could leave you at risk of serious injury should the ladder slip or you otherwise fall.

Safety needs to be your main concern; if you don’t feel that you can carry out the task safely, make sure that you buy different tools or employ professional help to get the job done. Saving money is not an adequate reason to risk serious injury. But if you are ready to do the task at home, here’s our guide to cleaning your gutters safely.

Check the condition of your ladder

As we mentioned before, cleaning the gutters isn’t usually something you carry out very often, so it may be the case that you haven’t used the ladder for a long time. Because of this, you need to check that the ladder is entirely safe to use before you try to carry out the work. If you have a timber ladder, check that there is no damage to the rungs or the sides. This could include anything from chips or cracks to rot.

If your ladder is aluminium you should check for kinks in the metal or signs of other damage while the ladder has been in storage. You must also ensure that the ladder has rubber feet to keep it from slipping.

Is this ladder right for the job?

Injuries happen in British households every year because people attempt to carry out home maintenance tasks with the wrong equipment. This is especially true for gutter cleaning because you will be up very high. Check whether the ladder is suitable for the work – does it allow you to get high enough, and can get you get to that height in complete safety?

There are many different kinds of ladders available. If a double extension ladder doesn’t allow you to get up to the correct height you could look into alternative options such as a telescopic ladder or a triple extension ladder.

Ensure you have set up your ladder correctly

You need to make sure that you have set your ladder up correctly so that you stay safe at all times when you are standing on it. One way that you can quickly ensure it is at the correct angle is to set the ladder, then stand with your toes against its feet. Now extend your arms to reach the rungs. You should have your arms at full stretch but be able to reach it comfortably.

Secure the ladder

The easiest way to ensure that your ladder is secure is to have someone hold the ladder at the bottom to keep it from slipping. If you’re not going to do this it’s good practice to at least tell someone that you are going to be working at height. If the worst does happen you will have someone who will realise that they have not heard from you and could check on you to make sure everything is OK. Another option is to strap the ladder against the wall so that it can provide support.

Maintain three points of contact with the ladder

When you are on the ladder you need to ensure that you maintain three points of contact with it at all times. In most situations this will be two feet and one hand while using the other hand to clean the gutter. However, if you need two hands to carry out specific work, your third point of contact could be your chest.

Use the right tools

To ensure that your risk is minimised it is important that you spend as little time as possible on the ladder. So, have the right tools with you to get the job done as fast as you can. The first thing you will undoubtedly need is gloves in order to pull debris from the gutter as well as anything else that may have got lodged in it. You should also have a bucket that you can deposit the debris into. Also make use of a brush to sweep the gutter after you’re done.