The danger of DIY gutter cleaning

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The danger of DIY gutter cleaning

I know we are coming at this with a biased perspective, but we also know the hidden dangers of what appears to be a simple task of cleaning your gutters yourself.

Many home owners – young and fit… some not so young and not so fit as well – will look at their single story home and figure how hard can it be to put a ladder up against the wall and grab a bucket and scoop their gutters cleaned by hand.

Now, we won’t even touch on the ineffectiveness (and messiness) of cleaning your gutters by hand, but let’s talk about safety.

Many home owners start with simply the wrong type of ladder that is not tall enough for the work they are about to perform.  Did you know that a ladder should extend past the roof line by at least 1 metre?  Also that if on a step ladder, you should never stand on the top of the ladder?  There is usually even a warning label urging you to not go beyond said point.

Then our DIY home owner – with the wrong ladder or even with the right ladder – doesn’t secure the ladder.  It is on unstable and an uneven surface and not attached to the property in anyway.  We always secure our ladder to the property at the gutter level and this can be done in a number of ways.

Next, when the home owner is at the top of the ladder, they decide to reach out as far as they can to avoid having to move the ladder several times to make their way around the property.  If you have the wrong sized ladder, on uneven ground, that is not secured to the property AND then reach out too far, you are absolutely destined to lose your balance, push the ladder in the opposite direction to where you are reaching and this all ends up with you falling to the ground.

Falling just a couple of metres may not seem like a big fall, but trust us, that is far enough to do some really serious damage.

We had a customer who simply did this to grab out a few small tree branches after a storm and this exact situation happened.  He ended up not being able to work for 6 weeks after that fall and was lucky not to have any permanent damage to his back. 

Don’t risk a fall, give us a call.  It really isn’t worth the risk to your own safety for what seems like a simple task, but is also potentially a really dangerous task if not done with right. 

Fully insured to work at heights

When working at heights, not only should you be fully trained and have all the right safety equipment, you also need to be insured. 

In the event that something drastic or unexpected happened (which we would hope would be the slimmest of chances to happen) then having insurance is a must. 

Why?

It is kind of complicated, but to put it simply.  We are working on your property as a commercial contractor so therefore, if we have a fall, it is not covered by your insurances and if we did not have our own insurance, then you could be held liable for our fall (yes we know this sounds crazy) and payable for medical costs and damages or loss of income! 

That’s why we cover our own insurance.  That way, you have peace of mind that we are doing the right thing with the right safety equipment, but also that if something did happen, we are covered by our insurance, not you!

If you are having any trades or contractors come onto your commercial site or your residential home, make sure you check they are fully insured.  You will be good to go with Gutter-Vac, our franchisees are not able to work without up to day and current insurances.

5 safety reasons to get your gutters professionally cleaned

Clean gutters are safe gutters, but this is true in more ways than you might think.

Here are our top five reasons why having your gutters professionally Gutter-Vac cleaned can improve the safety of your home, and reduce risk to you and your family:

  1. PROPER EQUIPMENT.
    Without the proper equipment – including roof ladders, cherry pickers and our famous Gutter-Vac – cleaning gutters can be risky and even damage your roof. Ladders that are too short, unsteady or incorrectly used can make you job hard, but can also make your gutter cleaning result in a painful fall and a trip to the emergency room.

    Even with tough gardening gloves, jagged gutter edges or foreign objects, including sharp sticks, metal or glass, can lead to cuts and injuries if cleaning your gutters by hand.
  2. PROTECTING YOUR PROPERTY.
    As above, if you don’t have the right gear, you’ll take unnecessary risks. Leaning a ladder against your guttering is not only unsafe, it can also lead to gutter damage, denting or even causing them to be torn from your property. Depending on your roof, without a proper roof ladder, clambering around up top can cause damage to tiling, panelling or roof sheeting. You might even put a foot wrong, leading to a hole in your roof, or a big drop for you.
  3. KEEPING YOU SAFE.
    As mentioned above, lack of proper equipment can lead to personal injury, but the positioning of your gutters can also be dangerous. Over-reaching not only puts you off-balance, it can also put a lot of strain on your body. This can simply result in a few aches the next day, but in some circumstances, it might even cause muscle or joint damage.
  4. FIRE RISK.
    We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again! Full gutters are fire hazards. It’s obvious that dry leaves catch fire very easily, but if you leave them for a long time and they mulch and then dry out, this dense compost can also lead to slow-burn danger. The embers can stay alight inside the mulch, so even though it may be damp on the outside and no flames will be visible, these embers may reignite hours after you think the danger has passed.
  5. BEYOND YOUR GUTTERS.
    These are all dangers associated with the gutters themselves, but over-spill from full gutters can also be hazardous. If not managed, it can cause a build-up of mould or algae, leading to slippery pavers and other ground surfaces. Even after you’ve fixed your gutters, without thoroughly scrubbing the ground below, this dangerous, slippery surface will remain. It may dry out and seem fine, but the next time it rains you’ll have an ice rink to deal with again. Even without the mould, glazed tiles can be slippery in the wet, and excess water can cause your lawn to turn into a muddy mess, again leading to possible slide-outs.

Some things just aren’t worth the risk! An appointment with Gutter-Vac not only saves you time, it also protects you and your home from injury and damage.

Cleaning gutters from the ground up!

Although it is easier for us to vacuum clean gutters from the roof, it is not always possible.  Sometimes the pitch of the roof is simply to great that it is unsafe to work on the roof.  Other times there could be a slight misty rain or even frost or in some cases ice and snow on a roof, again making it unsafe to be on the roof.  Another reason we can’t work from the roof is due to lack of access.  There is no safe way to access the roof space or that there simply isn’t the space to even put up a ladder to access the roof surface.

In these cases, it doesn’t mean we can’t vacuum clean the gutters, we just do it from the ground.

We have a specialised ‘Ground Worker’s Kit’ that allows us to connect up to the vacuum and through a series of cylinder shaped poles, we can work up to 3 storeys below the gutters.

At the top of our poles we have a ‘candy cane’ shaped piece of piping that is transparent.  This allows us to see what is being vacuumed by the machine and what is coming out of the gutters.

To be honest, most of our franchisees can tell by the simple feel of the suction and the guide of the gutter if they are getting it all. 

Even our before and after photos can be done from the ground if required.  Again, we put a camera on a large pole and can take photos before and after the job is done.

We have a few defence force building and local city councils that regulate that all work needs to be done from a ground level and this is where our ground workers kit gets a real workout.

So if you have a property with limited or no access, a steep roof or the conditions are simply not favourable – or safe – for us to be working on the roof, we can still get the job done and vacuum clean your gutters for you. 

Safety is a priority at Gutter-Vac

When Gutter-Vac began (more than 20 years ago now), I wanted to ensure one simple thing….

A franchisee could go out for the day, make a good solid living to provide for their family by vacuum cleaning gutters for customers, but I also wanted to ensure that at the end of the day, they would be able to go home to their family…. In one piece!

Working on a roof and working on ladders is not the safest place to work, but if you have the knowledge on how to do this safely, plus the safety equipment to back you up, then there is no reason that you can’t go out and work at heights for the entire day and then make it home to your family each night.

This is why I began Gutter-Vac’s sister company, Ballantyne Safety.  Not only is it an Registered Training Office (RTO) that teaches people how to work at heights, but we also have safety products and systems to ensure the safety of not just the Gutter-Vac franchisees, but also people from other companies that are working on roofs and climbing up and down ladders all day.

Many people don’t realise that we have actually trained many people from other companies as well as the Gutter-Vac franchisees.  Why do people like our training?  Because, believe it or not, you can do a working at heights course to be trained to work at heights WITHOUT having any practical training, just theoretical.  I always do a practical session to put into practice what they have learnt in the classroom because being on a roof and implementing what you have learnt is a very different feeling than just talking about it.

Ballantyne Safety also manufactures specialised roof anchor points that can be attached to a roof for just the time an individual needs to work on that roof, then they can be removed and used for the next job.

The secret (well, it’s not really a secret) is that we use a travel restraint system of working at heights rather than a fall arrest system.  What does this mean?  Basically the difference is that with a travel restraint system, if you fall whilst on a roof, you fall over on the roof, but not off the roof.  A fall arrest system means that if you fall over, you actually fall off the roof, but you are held in a harness, basically dangling off of the roof.

By using a travel restraint system, this means franchisees can work on their own because with a fall arrest system, you must have two people onsite at all times.  It also means that franchisees are kept safer because a fall off of the roof, even with a harness, can still cause injury.  Not as much as a fall on the ground, but still not a pleasant experience that’s for sure.

So we take safety very seriously at Gutter-Vac.  Every franchisee and ALL of their staff are trained to work at heights and have all the correct and current equipment to do so.  Add to that we are fully insured to work at heights so all of this should give you peace of mind that when you hire Gutter-Vac to vacuum clean your gutters, we do so safely – for us and for you.

Ladder Safety Tips

I just thought I’d pass on some information and knowledge about ladder use. So if you’re thinking about a bit of DIY work, no problem at all, but do it safely.  If you need to do work with a ladder, there’s a few things you should do.

If you’ve got a stepladder,  make sure the stepladder side clips are engaged properly and make sure you put it on good even footing.  You need the whole four feet on the same plane, the same level. You shouldn’t really have a step ladder elevated to two different levels.

Ensure you don’t go past where it says, “Don’t go past this point”. All ladders have got this written on them. So don’t go past this point and that means you feet. You should never go up to the top few rungs on a step ladder. They’re just not designed for it. There’s a real chance you will fall.

Using extension ladders.  If using this ladder you’re probably going up to two story on buildings, which is not a great idea.  The thing about that is that you have got to have the footing of the ladder secured and you’ve got to make sure it’s on firm level ground and the top of the ladder should be secured also.   It should be fixed to the guttering or fixed to the roof.  So there’s lots of ways of doing that with straps and hooks and then there’s lots of equipment that you can buy to do that. It’s very important that you have your ladder in a secure position, so it can’t go sideways and it can’t come back.  Most accidents on ladders are not when you’re on the ladder or when you’re on the roof, most accidents happen going from the ladder to the roof or from the roof to the ladder.

They say are “People fell off a roof”,  but in a lot of cases, they didn’t . It was where they are going from one to the other, but you know what, quite frankly, why would you do any of this stuff yourself? Why would you get on a roof? A two story roof when you don’t do it for a living or you don’t have the safety equipment that you should use – you’re much better off getting a professional involved. So unless it’s an emergency, I would always recommend that you contact somebody in the industry or does it for a living and get them to come out and do whatever you want done on the roof or off a ladder.

Stay safe.

Ladder safety when cleaning gutters.

Did you know that more injuries occur from people falling off ladders than they do off a roof?

A fall from a ladder can be just as severe as a fall from the roof, sometimes worse!

Remember years ago when Molly Meldrum was putting up Christmas lights and fell from the ladder?  He wasn’t even very high up when he fell and this left him in a critical state with a fractured skull, fractured ribs and a punctured lung that sent him straight to ICU.

So many people figure they will just DIY clean their gutters.  Even though cleaning your gutters by hand with a bucket isn’t really all that efficient or effective, people think they are saving themselves a few hundred bucks, but what they are really doing is putting themselves and their family into real danger.  What would happen to your family financially if you fell from the ladder and ended up in ICU for weeks if not months?  

Ladders are so easy to lose your balance from.  Many people using ladders don’t even follow simple ladder safety techniques such as working from a stable base and ensuring your ladder is secured to the property.  They then reach too far, climb up or down too fast, don’t wear the correct footwear, try to carry too many items or balance them or they are simply distracted.

A lot of commercial operations from schools to commercial warehouses, have a 1 rung rule.  That is, if you have to go up more than 1 rung on a ladder, then safety gear is required following a set of safety guidelines.

This is why so many commercial companies and organisations get us in to clean their gutters.  They won’t risk the safety of their own staff because they know that need someone trained and insured to do the job and their jobs can be in the vicinity of thousands of dollars. 

Is your health, you families financial stability, really worth you saving a few hundred dollars and risking it by doing it yourself?

Why not give us a call on 1300 654 253 for a free quote… maybe it won’t only mean your get your gutters cleaned, but it is also a pretty good insurance right?

Cleaning gutters on multi-storey buildings. How we do it …

Every day we come across different types of properties where we need to access the gutters so that we can vacuum clean them.  Some properties are new, some are old (even heritage listed), some are commercial and some are domestic homes.  They come in all different shapes and sizes…. And heights!

Working on the roof safely is our number one priority so there are all sorts of ways we can access the roof to your gutters cleaned.

Some properties is it simple as using a ladder to access the roof.  Not only do we secure our ladders before climbing up, we also have a variety of ladder types and sizes.  Not just like a standard domestic use ladder, we have ladders that can be used in all situations and some come with ‘add ons’ such as different feet to make sure our ladder is stable.  We can even use the big grand daddies of ladders that are 3+ metres! 

Depending on the roof and property, sometimes we can access a property from one location and then use our remote drum system to move along the length of the roof, without having to get off the roof to reposition our machinery.  Think like a property on a hill side that is one story at the street level (so easy for us to access), but the back of the property is at least 3 storey’s above a cliff edge with no access. 

We can also use multiple ladders to access from the ground to roof and then use a second ladder to grow from roof to roof levels.   Think about a split level property.

For large commercial jobs (we even do buildings like aircraft hangers and multi-story buildings) we may need to get an elevated work platform like a cherry picker or a scissor lift.  We even organise this for you, so don’t worry, we have got you covered.

Some roofs are simply too dangerous to be on, no matter how well trained you are or how good your safety gear is and in those case, we have a ground worker’s kit that we can use to access the gutters to vacuum clean – all from the ground. We can do up to 3 storey’s high using this method.  It also comes in handy for those little roofs you can’t get on even though they are not even a story high like a garden shed or patio.

So if you have a property that you thought was simply ‘too big’ or ‘too high’ to have the gutters cleaned then give us a call because with our 20+ years of experience, we know all the ways to get the gutters cleaned…. Safely!

Call us for a free quote on 1300 654 253 or request a quote online at www.guttervac.com.au

Why Lifestyle Villages Love working with Gutter-Vac.

We have lifestyle villages and retirement villages popping up all over Australia.  You know the small  communities of villas that are for those aged 50+.  A bit like a gated community, but often without the gates, but often with facilities such as a meeting hall, pool, work sheds and caravan parking.

These villages are generally managed by an onsite manager and work much the same as a body corporate where all the residents pay an additional weekly/monthly fee to have the exteriors of their properties, plus gardens, roads and common areas and facilities maintained.

There are a couple of reasons why Lifestyle and retirement villages love working with us at Gutter-Vac.

  • We work safely. 

All our franchisees and their staff are trained and insured to work at heights.  On properties such as lifestyle villages or retirement homes, it is absolutely essential for safety trained and insurance as they are commercial villages and no one can take the risk.

  • It stops residents DIY’ing

When we come regularly, it stops any of the residents, who are all starting to move into their senior years, from deciding to grab a ladder and do it themselves, potentially risking a fall that could be absolutely detrimental to their health.  It really could result in an extremely serious injury, but if the residents know we come regularly, they will leave this alone.

  • We are fast and finish the job!

You might wonder why this is important to a lifestyle or retirement village.  Having people onsite can cause a number of issues including blocking driveways and narrow roads that are within the village.  Access in and out of areas and generally just having work people on site can be a little uncomfortable for those more senior residents.  The one that the managers always tell us is that we actually finish the job!  It seems crazy right, but the number of villages that have told us that a crew came to hand clean the properties and after 3 weeks just left and never came back, not finishing the job, is unreal.  So many villas and properties to do, you need to work hard, fast and get the job done – well!

  • Before and After photos plus roof reports

Because they are managing the properties, having evidence on hand for the workmanship we have been paid for, helps the managers.  Plus it is a great tool to see what has been done.  The other thing is that we provide feedback on any issues or potential issues we may find on the roofs where their regular on site maintenance and gardening crews are not permitted to work.

  • We can do more than Gutter cleaning!

Whilst on the roof we can clean solar panels that will increase their efficiency as most lifestyle and retirement villages are built with solar panels.  We can do pressure cleaning and mould and lichen removal.  This is especially important not just for the appearance of the properties, but especially important in common areas and surfaces to make sure there are not any slippery surfaces that are very unsafe for the retired residents.

  • We are show respect to the residents.

This may seem like common sense, but you would be amazed at how trades people treat the retired and senior residents in lifestyle and retirement villages.  We always let them know in advance we are coming.  We do a courteous knock on everyone’s door so if they need to move a vehicle they can or to simply let them know that if they hear noise on their roof, it is just us and we also let them know how long we will be.

There is a downside to this one… well not really a downside, but we do need to manage it.  We get offered a lot of cups of tea and lots of biscuits, cakes and our favourite… lamingtons!  Some of our franchisees have been known to tell all the residents that at 4pm they will knock off and that’s when they are allowed to eat and have a cuppa with them!  Taking a little time to say hello and speak to a resident doesn’t take much effort from us, but they certainly pass the word to the managers that they love those ‘nice young men/women’ from Gutter-Vac ! 

It is not only lifestyle and retirement villages that love what we can do for them, but also body corporates and any property manager that has to balance getting the work done with the residents on site. 

If you manage a property like this or if you have a Mum or Dad living in a lifestyle village or retirement village/home, then pass on our details.  We would be more than happy to give them a free quote…. And maybe have a cuppa and a lamington too!

www.guttervac.com.au or 1300 654 253

Don’t risk a fall cleaning your gutters.

Working at heights is something that should not be tried if you are not full trained, with the right equipment and fully insured.  Your life is worth more to you than thinking that it is easy to jump up onto a roof, even a flat, single story roof can be a dangerous situation.

Did you know that most ‘roof falls’ area actually of the ladder, not the roof itself.  It may be whilst climbing up or down the ladder, whilst getting on or off the ladder at the roof line or simply that the ladder is not secured or on a good stable working surface.  So much can go wrong and you only have to look to the press to see so many incidents where regular people have fallen from a ladder and had serious injuries – including head and back injuries – that have changed the course of their life forever!

When we are cleaning your gutters, we do so in a safe method.  We are fully trained to work at heights with an RTO accredited certificate.  We use specialised safety equipment that allows us to work on any roof.  We are fully insured.  We do a risk assessment on every job.  We are trained in safe ladder techniques (yes this is a thing!).  We have specialised equipment to secure ladders to a property.  And… we know our limits when it is time to bring in an elevated work platform or to simply do the job from the ground with our ground worker’s kit. 

So don’t risk a fall, give us a call…. What is your health and life really worth to you?

Call 1300 654 253 or visit www.guttervac.com.au