Ryan Cash

For all the new guys to the industry, I wanted to break down the 5 most important things to consider when keeping residential gutters clean and the processes that will make it easy and profitable.

1) Cleaning by Hand.

This is a cheap and easy way to clear the inside of gutters. Whenever I’m doing a roof wash, I always make sure the gutters are clear first!

Cleaning gutters by hand is my preferred method 90% of the time when the debris in gutters are wet or damp. This can be done from the ladder (using ladder stand offs) or from the roof (using fall protection) with only a few simple tools (All can be had for around $60):

No real need to go in depth into this process as it’s pretty straight forward. Hook bucket onto the gutter with the S-hook, and use hands/spoon/pole to work your way around the house, clearing debris as you go. When bucket starts to get heavy, empty it out and get back at it! Generally I start at the downspouts so you can clear them and drain off any extra water.

I generally prefer this method. Even though it’s a little bit slower to clean, you end up saving a lot of time on clean up since you’re not dumping all the debris on the ground to clean up afterwards.


2) Cleaning With Power:

Generally, there are 3 ways to clear gutter with power: Pressure Washer, Vacuum, and Blower.

  • Pressure Washer: I generally land on the side of not using special attachments to clean with a pressure washer as I feel like you almost always just end up with a huge mess to deal with. I know some people swear by it, but in my experience it’s more headache than anything
  • Vacuum Systems: There are many on the market that many contractors swear by. the benefit is that you never have to leave the ground. The downside is that it can be tough on your neck and will require some sort of inspection camera to follow up and make sure the job was done adequately. Make sure you’ve got some sort of vacuum relief valve on the ground with you to deal with potential clogs.
  • Backpack Blower/Leaf Blower:The most common way to clear gutter debris with power is to use a gas-powered leaf blower while walking the roof. Always check the siding after blowing out the first run of gutters to make sure debris isn’t getting to the back side of them, making a mess of the rafter tails/siding. When blowing gutters, start on the inside corners and work out. This will prevent blowing debris on the adjacent wall. And ALWAYS do a post job inspection, walking around the home checking the landscaping and siding for any messes. If done properly, you can easily add 100-200 an hour for gutter cleaning and set the stage for an easy add-on roof cleaning. Here are the times I will consider this as an option:
    • Gutters are Dry. If this is the case, then debris that hits the ground is super easy to clean up. After setting up fall protection (5 minutes) I can typically blow out dry gutters in about 15 minutes on a 2500 sq ft. house. Add in another 15-30 minutes of cleaning up debris on the ground and you can easily make good money this way.
    • Gutters are Wet. I will consider this only if the following are also checked off:
    • There is good Fascia board behind the gutters that will prevent splatter on the walls. No Fascia board will lead to huge mess on the walls.
    • The landscaping/ground area allows it (Don’t make huge messes in people’s yards!). For homes with really nice landscaping or nice decks/potted plants etc., it’s just not worth it. The mess will take you longer to clean up than if you did it by hand.
    • The roof is safely walkable with fall protection


3) Downspouts and French Drains.

Clogged downspouts can be a pain. Especially when cleaning in dry weather when you can’t see water backing up. Here are a few ways to check for a clog regardless of weather:

  • Look Test: Last but not least, take it apart and inspect it. Look at the ground underneath a gutter. Has the landscaping been disturbed by overflowing water? Is there Dirt splashed up on the siding from overflowing water? Does the Gutter have excess debris on the outside of it from where it was overflowing?
  • Water Test (My preferred): Flush the downspout with water and look for blockages. Always check to make sure water is coming out of the bottom and not just filling up the downspout.
  • Marble Test: If the downspouts don’t feed to an underground drain, drop a marble in the top. You should be able to see if roll out the bottom if there are no blockages.
  • Tap Test: Tap on the downspouts and listen for a heavier thud sound

French Drains: Whenever a downspout is connected to a French drain, ALWAYS take precautions as to not flush dirt and debris into the underground drain system. Do this by disconnecting the bottom from the drain pipe.

Clogged downspout: there are generally two methods to clear them:

1) Disassemble downspout with a drill, clear, and re-assemble

2) Flush with water. For this: take an old water hose and cut off the male fittings, leaving just a bare hose. Connect to the water supply and use the hose as a snake to clear debris. Removing the fittings prevents the hose from getting caught on the seams/screws in the downspout when you go to remove it.


4) Gutter Brightening.

There are two levels of gutter brightening: Cleaning and Restoring.

  • For Basic Cleaning: Use a standard house wash mix (1-2% SH + Surfactant). If you are going to spray on the mix, be sure to charge for the full siding cleaning, as overspray will leave the house looking spotty.
    • For gutters only, mix a small batch in a 5 gallon bucket and apply with a car wash brush on the end of an extension pole. Apply, Brush and rinse with soft pressure.
  • For Restoration: When a basic cleaning isn’t enough and the gutters look dull with signs of oxidation or tiger striping (Black vertical stripes), Follow up with a light application of an oxidation remover/aluminum brightener. (I recommend Rooftec’s Oxitec: 1 part Oxitec : 2 Parts Water). Brush it on, let it dwell a few minutes and rinse it off with a soft pressure.
Gutter Cleaning/Brightening is an easy way to dramatically increase the curb appeal of your customer’s home!


5) Repairs, Supplies and Tools.

I normally don’t charge for quick fixes if it will take me 5-10 minutes. Just count it as part of doing business and a way to grow return customers.

There is nothing more powerful to gaining a repeat customer than telling them, "I saw this problem while I was doing the job and here is how I went ahead and took care of it for you, no need to worry about it!"

Here are the Basic Supplies to keep on the truck to help fix minor repairs on a jobsite. (All for around $200)


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