Before you head out to do your first job, you must have all the proper items to make sure you can get the job done right and efficiently.
This is the obvious #1 thing you need to do any gutter cleaning job. I recommend having two different ladders on you at all times to make sure you aren’t making life more difficult than it has to be and guarantees that you aren’t staying at any job longer than you have to. If it’s a short 1 story home, you don’t want to be taking out the longer 2 story extension ladder because it’s heavier and much slower to navigate.
Short Ladder – I would recommend getting a 7-10 ft step ladder or a 10 ft straight ladder. I personally prefer a straight ladder because it’s more stable on uneven ground. The step ladder is made more for a flat surface and if the surface is uneven, it can lose balance topple over easily. The best 2 in 1 ladder that I’ve come across is the Little Giant. It’s a little pricier but it’s extremely convenient, light and takes up less space than most ladders that reach its height due to the fact that it can fold up.
Tall Ladder – For the longer extension ladder, I would recommend getting at least a 28 Ft ladder. This will reach almost all 2 story homes. If you feel comfortable with a bigger, heavier 32 footer, then I would go that route because there won’t be a 2 story home that you won’t be able to reach and you will also be able to reach some 3 story homes with it as well.
This isn’t required but I do recommend it as it makes life much easier for gutter cleaning. A ladder stabilizer goes on the top of the ladder and does exactly what it’s called, stabilizes the ladder. Instead of the ladder resting directly on the siding or on the gutter, a ladder stabilizer is meant to rest on the roof on two rubber points allowing you much more stability and as a result makes you feel much more safe and confident on the ladder. Even if you rest the ladder stabilizer on the siding, it still makes you feel more secure because it doesn’t slide. Sometimes customers will request that you do not lean the ladder against the gutter because they are afraid that you will damage it with the weight that you put against it. When resting the ladder against the gutter there is also a greater chance of sliding, making it more dangerous for you as well. With a ladder stabilizer you don’t have to worry about resting the ladder against the gutter anymore because it rests on the roof and gives you enough space between the roof and the ladder for you to not touch the gutter at all. A ladder stabilizer is around $25 and lasts a long time as long as you put it on the right way and don’t drop the ladder which could bend the stabilizer and make it useless.
A roof rack makes it so much easier and safer to transport your ladder on a pickup truck, but it is not required. If you have a truck, I highly recommend that you eventually get a roof rack. Yes, it’s safer to transport a ladder with a roof rack, but I think the biggest benefit is the amount of time that it will save you when unloading and loading the ladder between jobs. With a roof rack, you quickly put the ladder on top, strap it to the rack and get going. The alternative that I will describe next is much slower and not as safe, but still safe if done right.
When I first started gutter cleaning and was borrowing/renting the truck, I didn’t have a roof rack so I had to improvise. What I ended up doing was taking a sleeping bag (you can use any soft cloth or rubber) and put it on the roof of the truck. Then I placed the ladder against the roof of the truck on top of the soft sleeping back and the back truck bed door. You can say it looked a little ratchet, but it got the job done and didn’t scratch the vehicle until I eventually got my own truck and a roof rack.
Red Flag or Cloth
If your ladder hangs 4+ feet off the back of your vehicle, you must add a little red flag to the end of the ladder. If you don’t have a flag, use a red T-shirt or rip off some red cloth. Simple.
You can tie down the ladder with some rope, but I personally don’t trust that method and would not have any peace of mind driving on the road. The best way to secure the ladder on your roof rack or top of your vehicle is to use special heavy-duty straps. The ones I’ve been using for a couple years are called “27 ft. x 2 in. Heavy-Duty Ratchet Tie-Down, Yellow” and you can find them at your local Home Depot or online. I normally use a minimum of 2 straps to secure the ladder to the truck, but sometimes go for 3 depending on how many ladders I’m strapping down. Never depend on one strap because I have had a situation where the ladders weren’t properly secured and one of the straps gave out. Luckily there were two straps and the other one held the ladders without any issues.
Heavy Duty Black Bags or a Bucket
You need a way to collect all the debris that you collect out of the gutters to take off the customer’s property. You can use a bucket but I personally don’t recommend it because it takes much longer to complete a job since you have to constantly empty it into the truck which means you’re going up and down the ladder more than you would have to if you used bags. I prefer using bags, but make sure you get heavy duty black backs because anything else will eventually rip on you and you will be on your hands and knees collecting crap look-a-like mud particles off your customer’s perfect lawn, white driveway or front porch. This is not fun. Spend the few extra dollars and get yourself some heavy duty bags that will hold whatever you find inside those gutters. I normally take a few bags up the ladder with me and tie the first bag to the top of the ladder. I clean until it’s full and then tie up the bag, drop it to the ground, pull out a new one and keep moving. This allows me to move quicker and makes it much easier to deal with debris since it’s not all over the back of the truck or being moved from one place to another. It’s all packed away in black bags that I can easily dispose of after the job.
Once again, this is not required but I highly recommend that you use gloves. You can either believe me or do your first gutter cleaning and learn the hard way. You have no idea what is up in those gutters and it’s not worth the risk of blindly shoving your hands down into the debris. I was once cleaning an apartment complex and found a heroin needle inside one of the gutters. This is not normal and has only happened once out of a thousand homes, but again, it’s not worth the risk. That’s the scariest of the risks, the less scary but annoying results of not wearing gloves is getting cuts against the edge of the gutter that leads to skin irritation which leads to burning and swelling. Another thing I’ve witnessed after cleaning a few gutters by bare hand was unbearable itching all over my hands for the rest of the day. Get some good rubber thick gloves. It’s one of the cheapest yet best investments you will make for your gutter cleaning business.
Some customers will request or ask if you flush out the system. If they request it, you do it, if they ask about it, you do it. Almost 100% of the time I use the customer’s on-site, already connected house, but for the rare occasion that they don’t have a hose, I always have one ready to go on me. Also, sometimes they have a hose on-site, but it isn’t long enough so I will combine theirs and mine to get the job done.
This concludes the few things you will need to get to get going with your gutter cleaning business. You will soon learn that you will be asked to do some gutter repairs once in awhile for your gutter cleaning customers. I will go over gutter repair later on in this course which will include the tools, supplies and equipment you will need to do the most popular repairs.
It might take you some time to get branded apparel which we will go over later. Before I had branded apparel, I still wanted to show up looking like I belonged there so I got a construction vest. They come in orange or yellow and cost a few bucks. Showing up in a construction vest makes you look professional, official and no one will question you about legitimacy.