What to know when adding Eaves trough clean out services to your business.
What you’ll need to have to perform eaves trough cleaning are the following: an 8’ multi-position step ladder (adjusts from 8’ step ladder to 12’), a 12’ extension ladder (adjusts from 12’ to 24’) and
18’ extension ladder (adjusts from 18’ to 36’) or 20’ extension ladder (adjusts from 20’ to 40’). By having theses ladder sizes you will be able to tackle almost any building that needs to be cleaned out.
If you don’t already have these types of ladders you can either rent them or go out and buy them. If buying is what you have to do then there are things to think about and look for when buying ladders for eaves trough cleaning.
I know that price is a factor as with any purchase but as for ladders, paying extra for stronger safer ladders may save your life.
What do I mean? Well there are different ladder grades and materials that ladders are made of. The two main materials ladders are made out of are fibreglass and aluminium.
There are reasons for using both kinds of ladders, first fibreglass. Fiberglas ladders are hands down your safest ladder to use as they don’t carry electrical current and are neutral so they don’t conduct electricity like an aluminium ladder will. This is very important as you will come into close proximity electrical wires coming in to each house you work on (assuming that the house has electricity) then all it takes is one little accidental slide of the ladder and zap! You’re dead or severely burned.
This risk is real as extension ladders are easiest to move along a trough (or to carry it around the corner of a building to get to the next area of trough) in an upright or extended manner instead of lowering the ladder to its lowest height (12ft on 12ft extension ladder that will extend to 24ft).
Close attention must be paid at all times while moving your extension ladder around you can also damage or make contact with tree branches or other objects above your head that can cause the ladder to become unbalanced and in turn could crash unexpectedly into nearby wires, windows or expensive items on the ground such as cars, patio furniture, shrubs or flower gardens.
Fiberglas ladders are extremely strong and durable ladders and will not bend or kink in certain stress points on the ladder (such as between the base of the ladder and the first rung) in the same way that aluminium ladders will.
Sometimes all it takes is a deep scratch in an aluminium ladder and you have a weak point that over time will become larger and one day when you least expect it while you’re a story and half up leaning out on the aluminium ladder, snap, slide and zap! Or snap, slide and bang! You land face first into the ground below.
It is these important reasons that you should make your main (most often used size of ladder which for me is my 12ft. extension) a Fiberglas one. These ladders are more expensive than aluminium but what is your life worth? The only other down side to a Fiberglas ladder is that is a heavy ladder to handle moving around a job.
This factor shouldn’t matter that much either as you should always have person on the ground keeping the ladder in place at all times, ensuring it doesn’t slide or fall outwards. This same person can be of help in moving heavy ladders around the job as well.
Keep in mind that you will be using a ladder in a commercial manner, logging many more hours on your ladder than any home owner would.
Next, aluminium ladders after saying all of those negative things about aluminium ladders they still have a place in your collection of ladders needed to clean out eaves trough. You need to make sure though that you are buying the proper grade of aluminium ladder, it does make a difference.
These grades are usually pertaining to the amount of weight that they can handle safely at any given time. In my opinion it is always better to buy a grade better than your weight class or to buy the strongest if you weigh more than 200 lbs. (keeping in mind that it may not always be you going up that ladder).
The following are the different grades that apply to all step, multi- purpose and extension ladders. These are only a guide and you should always check with the specific ladder manufacturer.
Type 1AA – Construction Grade and is good up to 375lbs.
Type 1A – Industrial, General Contracting and is good up to 300lbs. Type 1 – Maintenance, Dry walling and is good up to 250lbs.
Type 2 – Light Commercial, Painting and is good for up to 225lbs. Type 3 – Home use, Light duty and is good up to 200lbs.
I would never buy an aluminium ladder that you planned on using commercially for eaves or anything else any lower than a Type 1.
Remember that you should be charging a decent hourly rate to go up on a ladder as there is risk involved in this kind of work.
As I talked about earlier the aluminium ladder is lighter in any given grade compared to fibreglass that is why I use a Type 2 8ft. aluminium multi-purpose ladder for cleaning out eaves trough that are only a single story in height (less than 12ft off the ground). For this ladder I use foam covers that slip over the end of the ladder to prevent it from scratching or denting the trough.
This ladder can be moved around quite quickly, easily and safely. The bonus regarding having one of these ladders in your collection is that it can also be very useful when pruning bushes and hedges.
When it comes to the tallest eaves troughs jobs that I am willing to clean (approx. 2 ½ story building) I use a Type 1 16ft. aluminium ladder because at this size moving around a fibreglass ladder would be much more difficult and cumbersome (even with 2 men).
I recommend as always that your safety should be your number 1 concern when cleaning out troughs and using a proper ladder as we have been talking about is very important. There are also important features that your ladder should have to help make you safer. They are adjustable feet that help add stability, well supported ladder rungs (steps), height adjustment locks and stand offs.
The ground that you’re placing your ladder on is not always grass that acts as a cushion that will hold the ladder in one place on the ground. There are many times that the surface your ladder may have to be placed may be asphalt, concrete or even wood (such as on a deck.
These are harder and much smoother surfaces which when damp or wet can provide a slippery surface. It is for these reasons that making sure that your ladder has a good set of feet.
Well supported ladder rungs and height adjustment lock outs give a better feel of stability when at the maximum height of the ladder.
Last but not least important are ladder stand offs. This ladder accessory is a must have. Stand offs provide much greater stability by dispersing your weight when leaning against the roof/building you are working on. They also will help to prevent the ladder from sliding while you are leaning out to reach for the leaves or debris in the trough.
Notice the bend in the trough, Stand offs were not used last time these eaves troughs were cleaned.
Another benefit from using stand offs is the fact that you aren’t putting all of your weight against the trough which can mark or dent the trough permanently making for an unhappy customer as the price of eaves trough is quite expensive.
When purchasing these stand offs I recommend that you buy the strongest commercial type you can find as cheaper light aluminium stand offs may kink and fold on you when you need the most (just like cheaper low grade ladders). Below are two different stand off designs. The top one is the cheaper version that has thinner grade aluminium and a sharper bend that promotes kinking or bending of the stand off.
The lower version is the type that I switched to after I had one of the cheaper stand offs I was using broke while I was up on a ladder. The lower one is made of thicker aluminium and does not have the same distinct bends and angles as the upper design does thus making it stronger and safer.
Since we have covered ladders in detail it is now time to go over the actual cleaning out of the troughs.
How to clean out Eaves trough quickly and in an efficient manner.
Where I live the troughs are filled with mainly fallen leaves from trees and decaying shingle debris (which is like large grains of sand). To clean out eaves trough the best proven method I have found is to just use your hands to grab and pull out the debris and place it into a garbage bag that you have brought up with you, into a bucket on a rope or just to drop it onto the ground if the trough is over an area that is not maintained.
People try to tell you to power wash out your troughs or to blow them out with a leaf blower but all those methods give you is more mess to clean up (in some cases most of the side of the house and windows). Don’t use these methods they may work partially and only in ideal conditions (with perfectly dry leaves and no other debris in troughs).
When you get your ladder up and you get a look at the trough you will find either empty trough, troughs with leaves and debris or leaves, debris and water. If you find water then you know that a downspout is plugged somewhere and will need to be unplugged.
In the first two cases you can assume that the downspouts are not blocked but in my experiences it is better to make sure anyways.
The best tool I have found is a home made one that works better than any plumbers’ snake that you can buy. It is 6-8ft. of pliable (bends in colder weather but is not limp) ½” or greater rubber garden hose. This hose is strong enough and wide enough to dislodge even the most stubborn clogs.
Above tools include; rope and bucket, garden hose and aluminium poles with circular feet attached.
If the trough has water in it when it is clogged then it will help to flush the downspout and get rid of the clog. If the trough is dry and you find a clog while you are just checking then bring up a small pale of water to add to the trough to add in dislodging the blockage in the downspout.
You will normally notice a large blob of dark matter come out of the bottom of the downspout as the spout clears itself of the clog. Once just clear water is coming out then the downspout is flowing and clean.
To make the cleaning go a little faster you can use sticks that you find nearby or you can adapt other household items to give you a much longer reach from your ladder each time you go up which will save you trips you and down the ladder.
Believe me if you have a day full of eaves to clean out then your body will thank you for taking advantage of these tips.
When you using these sticks or other tools you are pulling the debris towards while it is still in the troughs to the point were you can reach out with your hand safely and pull it the rest of the way towards you and finally deposit it into a bag or bucket to later deposit into a garbage bag.
When cleaning eaves trough by hand your hands will get dirty and you may even get the nick or scrape on your knuckles so be careful as in some places the trough can be very sharp.
I have tried many different types of gloves to protect my hands but they don’t offer the same agility as hands alone do. You can experiment yourself but I think you will find that getting in there with your hands and getting dirty is the best and quickest way to get the job done.
Once you’ve finished checking and cleaning out the building you are working on the last step is to clean up any mess left on the ground be it leaf material dropped from the troughs or clog matter from the downspouts.
The following tools should be able to handle the clean up, a broom, flat mouthed shovel and a leaf rake. Any material cleaned up from the ground should be put into commercial grade garbage bags or wheeled from a wheel barrow in the back of a trailer to later be disposed of at a compost site or taken to a nearby landfill site.
I hope this tips will aid you in offering or considering to offer Add On Eaves Trough Clean Out services to Your Lawn Care business.