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A vital gadget for home owners in autumn!

It’s not sexy, it’s not nerdy, it’s not even interesting; but if you have ever lost half an autumn weekend wearing marigolds with a bucket in one hand and a trowel in the other while balancing at full stretch on a ladder many meters high, you will really appreciate this. I’m talking gutter cleaning!  To my mind this is probably one of the best gadget in the world as I hate gutter cleaning and it’s hardly a manly look is it.

It is a robotic gutter cleaner. It takes a lot of the stress and strain out of cleaning gutters, not to mention the danger of swinging around on a ladder. Mind you, you will need a jet washer afterwards as I can just imagine what the floor looks like after this wonderful thing has done its job – Take a look, its brilliant. Unfortunately this robotic gutter cleaner is not available in the UK yet and there is no point in importing one as its American and we work on a different voltage over here. Mind you, as soon as they bring out a European version, I’m buying one.

So what are my options?  Hire “the man who can”. Tempting but expensive. Do it myself – not tempting at all, or invest in a gutter guard. Gutter guards are advertised as being able to prevent your gutters from clogging with leaves, as well as water and debris — thus saving you from what could be a dangerous household task and I as have already said, cleaning gutters is no fun at all! So, if you want to avoid the old marigold and bucket game, here is the low down on gutter guards.

Not everyone agrees that gutter guards are worth the cost, time, and effort to get them installed. I disagree, there are many benefits. Firstly, they enable more efficient rain water removal by improving the flow of water, and drastically reduce the effort required to clean your gutters frequently which is a real bonus. Most of them can be added to existing gutters fairly easily. While I fully endorse the BBC’s Giving Nature a Home Campaign (click for details) my gutters are off limits! Gutter guards make your gutters a far less appealing location for our feathered friends.  In the UK, we don’t have to worry about stagnant water being a breeding ground for mosquitoes, but it does smell and it is not good if your gutters have a slow leak.

The 3 main types of gutter guards are gutter covers, gutter screens and gutter brushes and none of them are completely maintenance free:

  • Gutter Covers: these sit on top of your gutters, rather like a lid for your gutter, with gaps in the side, so the rain water can still get in, but far fewer leaves can. Some need professional installation, but they do look good and they are effective.
  • Gutter Screens: usually made of wire or nylon mesh and are simpler and cheaper to install, but usually don’t last as long. Basically they are like posh small holed chicken wire which is fixed onto the top of the gutter. The bigger leaves and debris sits on the top of the mesh, allowing the water to escape. The manufacturers claim that the leaves just blow away.  Unfortunately they are a pig to put on and take off for cleaning the small bits which escape into the gutter.
  • Gutter Brushes: I love these. They are like a giant sausage of bottle brush bristles which snake along your gutters. In essence they do the same job as the screen, in that the big stuff can’t get into the gutter while the water can flow away. Even better, if you pull your gutter brush sausage through the length of your gutter when you remove it for cleaning, it actually drags all the cack and debris with it, meaning that you don’t have to keep moving the ladder every 15 mins.
nests in gutter

All of the above options have pros and cons and depend heavily on the type of property you have and the number and types of trees nearby. As for me, I am going to call in the professionals, which I can definitely recommend, especially if your house is over 2 floors high, which is probably why the Americans call autumn “fall”, in honour of all the men clearing gutters.

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