Although most of us don’t think about our gutters until we need to, they perform a crucial job in protecting water from gathering on our roofs and potentially causing damage.
Unfortunately, gutters can become blocked quite easily, often in the Autumn months when leaves fall from the trees and clog up the drainage pipes. This can lead to overflows and leaks, and possibly a hefty roof repair bill.
Some people are happy to clear their own gutters, however, as with all work at height, this comes with potential risks and depending on the circumstances might be better left to a gutter cleaning professional.
Either way, if you carry out gutter cleaning, there are a few tips you can use to make it safer and more efficient.
1: Clean Your Gutters In Advance, In Spring and Summer If Possible
Although Winter and Autumn are months of concern when it comes to gutter blockages, this can actually be the worst time to clean your gutters out, due to the cold and wet weather.
Furthermore, fallen leaves can form a carpet beneath the gutters, and sitting water can freeze, creating a potentially lethal surface beneath that makes getting on a ladder a bad idea.
By carrying out a check and cleaning of your gutters in Spring or Summer, you can ensure everything is in top condition, clean out blockages, and prepare them for the colder months safely.
2: Stay On The Ground If You Can
Although this seems counterproductive as the gutters are high up, it’s actually a very important consideration.
Work at height brings with it a host of serious and potentially lethal risks, and the Work At Height Hierarchy, a set of guidelines designed to minimise injury and death at height, advise that wherever possible, work should be carried out from the ground. For example, you might be able to clear out your gutters with a reach and wash system from ground level.
If you have valley gutters, you should use specialist equipment such as a mobile valley frame to ensure your safety.
Overall, the best way to avoid putting yourself at risk is to just hire an expert, who will have more suitable, professional equipment to ensure their safety.
3: Use The Right PPE
A task like gutter cleaning can be deceiving: if you’re planning to do it yourself, it’s definitely not something you should do in shorts and a T-shirt.
When carrying out gutter maintenance, you should ensure you wear the right equipment, including safety goggles and gloves, to protect yourself whilst working. Non-slip shoes are also crucial, as well as a mask, as leaves and other debris can be potentially harmful to your health after months of decomposition.
4: Avoid Ladders Where Possible
Although they are commonly used for jobs such as window cleaning and gutter maintenance, ladders are actually not suitable for carrying out work at height. In fact, according to HSE guidance, ladders should only be used for accessing raised areas, not carrying out work.
Official advice is to maintain three ‘points of contact’ wherever possible, so if you’re using a ladder correctly, you shouldn’t actually have two hands free to work.
Instead, you should use a platform ladder, or another type of raised platform, to carry out the work in a fully protected way.
5: Avoid Lone Working
This should be common sense, but all too often we can overestimate our abilities and get ourselves into dangerous situations.
If you’re going to carry out gutter cleaning and maintenance by yourself, always make sure you have a buddy with you to help or raise the alarm if things go awry. Should a fall occur, they can quickly alert emergency services and carry out First Aid.
Gutter maintenance can be carried out perfectly safely with the right planning and equipment. Nevertheless, it’s important not to underestimate the challenge, and if in doubt, best leave it to the professionals.
At Easi-Dec, we offer a range of equipment for carrying out maintenance tasks at height. To learn more, get in touch.