October 26, 2019

Rain Gutter Wrestling

We have trees. Lots and lots of trees. There are maples, now blazing orange in the bright October sunlight. There are cedars with their lacey branches and oaks with rock-hard acorns covering the ground at their feet. But, before many of those beautiful leaves and nuts hit the ground they come to fall into our rain gutters. This creates a mission that cannot be ignored.

 Lots of leaves everywhere!

As we looked up at the overflowing gutters the plan began. They were cleaned completely when we moved into the house by the builder, but now the job is ours alone and there are many things to consider. We are not youngsters anymore. Even having to reach the third floor, we cleaned our rain gutters in our city home regularly, tackling them yearly whether we wanted to or not. Now we have one floor. Much better, but still taller than we are. The roof is easily reached by placing a standard ladder on the back deck and even alongside the house. That's great should we want to get up there. We'd rather not. We could get a longer ladder and move it a few feet or so and climb up, dig out the leaves and nuts and work our way around the building. We wanted an easier and cleaner plan.

We researched gutter guards and various gutter protecting methods. They keep many things out of the gutters, but not all. Sooner or later they have to be removed and cleaned underneath. Maybe this is a job that doesn't need to be done as often, but it's an even bigger job than just gutter cleaning. With our location, we are figuring the gutters need to be cleaned at least four times a year. At $100 - $150 bucks a pop, when there are so many more fun ways to spend money, we looked for another plan. 

We watched videos. Bless those folks who are motivated to take their precious time sharing their hobbies, jobs, and talents with the world. How did we figure out anything before the internet? So, we watched guys with drones peering into gutters. Guys with leaf blowers. Guys with poles and wires and hoses and of course tall ladders. Then we saw the videos with vacuum tubes.

Ahh, now this looks like a plan. You get a big wet-dry vac. You calculate the height of your gutters and how much power you need to reach the height you want. The vacuum comes with a couple of wands. Add your height, the length of the wands, grab a couple more to reach how far you need, order a hook piece on Amazon, get out a good extension cord and lots of determination.

I love this idea. It even had a backup plan. You pop those tubes together, duct tape on the hook so it doesn't blow off onto the roof (experience from Youtubers is great), stick the thing up into the gutter and voila! Ideally, you just vacuum out the gutters. Diabolical! Gunk too yucky for the vacuum? Turn the hose around and blow those bad boys out! I'm ready to try it!

We gathered our tools, a handful of extra wands, the big 16-gallon vacuum and started sucking up leaves. It worked! The gutters were wet and full and the project took plenty of patience. We learned that it was an easier job with two people, one to do the vacuuming and another to push along the machine and be ready to clear the tube if the end got plugged up. In the really clogged areas, it was best to move along slowly into a section, clean up to the hanger then lift it over the hanger and keep going. It took about 2 hours of work and it is a real workout for the chest and shoulders, but it did the job fairly easily and very effectively. I'm sure if we get out regularly we can cut the time in half. No ladders were required, except to climb up out of curiosity long enough to see if it was working as well as we hoped. We got it all done and ready just in time for a couple of days of good fall rain.

Here's a link to the accessory kit on Amazon if you plan some safe gutter cleaning yourself.

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