Gutter cleaning is one of those necessary jobs that needs to be done each year to protect your property. However, with the proper gutter cleaning tools you can make the job easier.
Gutter Tools for Multiple Situations
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 a tools attached to a vacuum, you will not have to worry about cleaning up the area after your 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.
Safety should also bear weight on which tool you select for your gutter cleaning task.
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 is 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 roof line, 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.
Recommended Gutter Cleaning Tools
Once you've considered the different tools, their situational uses, and safety, you are ready to shop. The top customer ratings for these tools range from 4 to 5 out of 5 stars; even 4 star reviews are very positive.
Tools That Scoop, Grab, or Brush
Choose between a robotic or manual option, like the following devices.
iRobot Looj 330
The iRobot Looj 330 BlackGutter Cleaning Robot - L330020 is a robotic auger with a brush that spins at high speed robotically through the gutters. The handle serves as a remote control. Although the Looj requires you to climb a ladder to place it in and remove it from the gutter, the remote allows you to limit the number of times you need to use the ladder.
The price is relatively high at approximately $300, but it has consistently received 4 star reviews from both Amazon and Target customers. In their reviews, customers commented that even at $300 it is cheaper than hiring someone to clean the gutters, and it took them less effort than moving a ladder to clean the gutters manually. Several people also noted that the device did not work well on heavily packed debris that had been left in the gutter for more than one rainy season.
At the small price of approximately $25, Gutter Sense consists of specialized tongs, controlled by a rope system. A telescoping extension pole, which may cost a little more than Gutter Sense, must be purchased separately if you want to use the tool from the ground.
Although Gutter Sense is currently unavailable from Amazon, past reviews averaged 4 stars, where one reviewer described this device as "spring-loaded salad tongs on a pole." Despite the humorous description, he and many others liked the results they got with this simple and inexpensive tool. Others commented on the lightweight and ease of use compared to heavier tubes and hoses on some of the air and water driven cleaners. It is also recommended as a low-price gutter cleaning solution in a number of blogs and articles, including one in the Washington Post.
Pressurized Water Tools
A pressurized water tool can be a standalone washer or attach to a hose.
Karcher Follow Me K3
The Karcher Follow Me K3 Pressure Washer Package, which costs approximately $200, gets 5 stars from Home Depot and 4 stars from Amazon customers. One Amazon customer noted it's a "good value for light use." A right-angle extension wand that allows gutter cleaning without use of a ladder is available for about $50. Despite the relatively high price of this tool, its use is not limited to cleaning gutters. It can be used for other tasks around the house, such as driveway cleaning and car washing. Plan to wash down, sweep, or rake the area of your yard below your gutters because debris will fly as it washed from the gutters at high speed.
AR North America Telescoping Lance
At approximately $110, the AR North America Telescoping Lance system connects to your garden hose and produces a stream rated at 4000 PSI (pounds of force per square inch). With an 18-foot telescoping wand, it reaches up to two stories high. A trigger gun, high pressure hose and parts that snap make it easy to set up and use. Home Depot Customers rate this system at approximately 4.5 stars. Customer reviews affirmed that the device works as advertised and does the job very well.
Compressed Air Tools
Leaf blower attachments that utilize compressed air are a good option for people who all ready have a leaf blower. Consider picking up an attachment the same brand as your blower for best results.
The WORX AIR system consists of a leaf blower plus a special kit for cleaning gutters. It delivers air into the gutters at 120 mph. The kit consists of extension pipes and a curved unit to fit into the gutters. The leaf blowers range from approximately $100 to $200, and the gutter cleaning kit is approximately $50.
Customer reviews on the manufacturer's website average 4.5 stars, and they average 4 stars on Amazon. Expect to do quite a bit of clean up on the ground because air pressure at this speed will spread the debris around. When customers tried to use the kit with other than the WORX leaf blower, they complained that the kit did not fit perfectly but they were able to attach parts firmly with modifications or with duct tape. When used as designed with the Worx blower, comments were overall positive.
Weed Eater Attachment Set
The Weed Eater GA2010 Gutter Cleaning Blower Attachment set for gutter cleaning fits almost all gas and electric Weed Eater leaf blowers. At approximately $40, this is a reasonably priced add-on for your leaf blower. Rated at 4 points by over 250 Amazon users, these attachments can be used from the ground without a ladder. Again, because debris is blown out of the gutters, you'll need to do some additional clean up from the ground.
Some customers commented on the fact that it takes some physical strength to manage the tubing and the pressurized air, especially when more than two or three tubes are connected. On commented that the kit blows such a strong stream of air into the gutters that without proper control it can blow itself out of the gutters. Other users, however, were very happy with the intensity of the stream of air.
Shop Vacuum Kit From Ridgid
The Ridgid Gutter Cleaning Kit has a group of specialized accessories for a Ridgid wet/dry shop vacuum that allow you to clean gutters by using either the suction or air-blowing function of the vacuum. The vacuums are available at a variety of capacities and price points. The kit is approximately $30 and several Ridgid wet/dry vacuums are available for less than $100. The best buy is probably a $99 version of the vacuum that includes the gutter cleaning kit. By using the suction function of the vacuum, you will avoid a lot of clean up at ground level. However, if you prefer blown air for the job, it is available with the same set of tools. Note that the gutter cleaning kit allows you to work from ground level and to avoid climbing on and balancing on a ladder.
The kit has received a 5 star rating from Home Depot customers. A number of these customers cite the strength of the vacuum, the ease and convenience of connecting tools, and kit's effectiveness in cleaning gutters.
Tools Reduce Labor
Clearly, if you prefer, you can save money by clearing rain gutters by hand or with a garden hose. However, there are many excellent tools that let you reduce labor, save time, and get great results. If safety is a concern, then selection of tools that let you work from ground level is imperative.