We recently covered some ladder-free gutter cleaning tools, but there are some of you out there who will want to do it the old-fashioned way rather than buy new equipment. If that’s the case then you’ll need to think about choosing the right ladder to clean gutters with.
You’ll also need to give some thought to the right way to handle your ladder, since this is vital to your safety during the gutter cleaning process. At Rain Control Gutters we want your gutters to be clean, but we want you to be safe too.
Choose the Right Ladder Material
You have three basic options when it comes to ladder materials.
The first option is the traditional wooden ladder. While wooden ladders are cheap and traditional they are not the option we typically recommend.
The reason is a matter of balance. Wooden ladders have a tendency to wobble more than any other ladder. People fall off ladders while cleaning their gutters precisely because they lose their balance.
Fiberglass is another option. It’s good and sturdy, so it’s not a bad choice.
However, fiberglass is also heavy. Remember, you’ll have to move the ladder around the entire perimeter of your house to get your gutters thoroughly clean.
A fiberglass ladder could thus turn a job that takes a day into a job that takes three weeks, just because fatigue will set in early.
There is an exception however. If you have power lines near your home then fiberglass is just safer, heavy or not.
We may just seem a little biased towards this particular metal, but the truth is that an aluminum ladder is often the most advantageous for cleaning gutters. Aluminum is strong enough not to wobble but is light enough not to make the gutter cleaning job any more tedious than it has to be.
Choose the Right Ladder for your Weight
You need to take your own weight into account when you’re choosing a ladder. Different ladders are rated for different weight capacities.
Don’t push this to its limits. If you remember our earlier post on gutter cleaning you may be taking one or more buckets up there: one filled with tools, and one to hold the gutter muck if you’re not simply flinging it onto a drop cloth on the ground.
Every ladder has what’s called a “load capacity.” You’ll need to be very careful to know your load capacity before you get on the ladder.
There are ladders with load capacities for just about anyone. You can find extension ladders capable of bearing up to 500 lbs (not that we’re saying you need one that hefty)!
The key is to know what you need before you buy the ladder.
Inspect Your Ladder Thoroughly
Ladders are subject to wear and tear like anything else, and if they’ve got enough damage than they can be unsafe no matter what material they’re made of or what advertised load capacity they have. That’s why you should always check your ladder before climbing it.
What are you looking for? Check for the following:
- Dents in the metal.
- Places where the metal is warped, or looks defective.
- Loose parts on the ladder of any kind.
If the ladder has loose screws it may still be okay, so long as you fix and tighten the screws before climbing it.
Secure the Ladder Properly
Even the right ladder needs to be properly secured in order to ensure your safety. Start by checking the extension arms. Are they fully extended?
Next, place a piece of plywood under the ladder’s legs to steady it. This just gives it a little extra support.
Test your ladder by bouncing lightly on the ladder’s lowest rung. Does the ladder seem steady or does it continue to wobble? If it wobbles, adjust it.
Call on the help of a partner to hold the ladder secure while you’re on it. Now you can climb the ladder to secure it at the top.
Three bungee cords are very helpful here. You can wrap the cord tightly around the ladder and secure it to the edges of the gutter. This is only as strong as the cords and the gutter, however, so don’t rely on this method alone to keep you safe.
Use the Ladder Correctly
While you’re on the ladder you need to make sure that you’re observing ladder safety at all times. In the gutter cleaning business we have something called the “three point rule.”
This means, basically, that three parts of your body should be touching the ladder at all times: both feet, and one hand.
Never reach or stretch to get debris out of your gutter. If you have to reach or stretch then it’s time to descend the ladder and move it. Reaching and stretching are the most common reasons why people fall off ladders.
Finally, don’t get on the ladder if you’re intimidated by the process. Find another method, or call a gutter contractor to handle the job for you.
Rain Control Gutters has been providing gutter cleaning services to residents of Ocala and central Florida for over 35 years. If you’d like to stay off that ladder just call us today for a free estimate!