Cleaning your gutter is no easy task, but it is an important one. Unfortunately, there is more to worry about than just the time taken out of your day, the cold & wet gunk you will need to clean out; using a ladder when cleaning the gutter can be quite dangerous. Ladder safety is often taken far too casually. Combining a task which you do not often do with climbing high on a ladder should not be taken lightly. Falling from a ladder can result in lasting and potentially permanent injuries, sometimes even death. This guide outlines the most important safety tips so that you can clean the gutter confidently and carefully.
Choosing the best ladder for the job
If you don’t have a ladder, or not sure you have the best and safest option, then you will likely need to buy one. For a single-storey building, a stepladder will be good enough. Two-storey buildings will require an extension ladder, which is where the danger comes in.
Wooden ladders are bad choice of ladder to use as they can often be unsteady and unsafe. Aluminium and fibreglass ladders are better choices, although they each have their pros and cons.
Aluminium ladders are light, which means you can do a larger length of guttering without the risk of becoming too fatigued from moving them around. Despite this, they are slightly less safe than fibreglass, so if you don’t have lots of guttering, fibreglass will be your best option. Fibreglass also has the added benefit of not conducting electricity. If you are working close to power lines, do not get an aluminium ladder.
Inspect your Ladder
Over time, your ladder can rust and its bolts and screws can start to loosen. Before you get to work, check it over for any defects that could compromise its sturdiness and safety such as corrosion, cracks and bent parts. If you do not notice any defects but the ladder is rickety or sways, you will need to either get it fixed or buy a new one.
A stand-off device, sometimes wrongly called a stabiliser, is an attachment for your ladder that will rest the ladder against the wall of the building instead of weak surfaces such as plastic guttering or glazing. Stand-offs also aid your work as they rest the ladder at a distance from the gutter so you aren’t trying to clean them out at an awkward angle, which can lead to unsafe positioning.
- Ensure the slip-resistant pads on the bottom of your ladder are serviceable
- Always have three points of contact with the ladder, whether climbing or working (i.e. two feet and one hand when working, or one foot and two hands when climbing).
- Never stand on top of a ladder
- Don’t make sudden moves while on a ladder
- Only carry light materials and tools
- Don’t overreach
- Ensure it is high enough for your task – ladders will have a published ‘working height’
- Make sure the angle is roughly 75 degrees – think one unit out for every four units up
Ladders could be hazardous if not used safely or properly maintained. However, there is no reason why you can’t safely complete your gutter cleaning task by yourself, if you carefully follow the above advice. Despite this, if you are uncertain and fear that you won’t be able to finish the job safely, engaging a professional gutter cleaning company to do it for you is always the safest option.