How to Safely Clean Gutters Using a Ladder

Before you start to clean your gutters you need to make a risk assessment to ensure you have the right equipment for the task and that you can carry it out safely. This will involve:

  • making sure the work is properly planned and organised
  • you are competent at working at height
  • the risks from work at height are assessed and the appropriate work equipment is selected and used - please see our Ladder Instructions guide for reference
  • the risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled
  • your ladders have been inspected and maintained with no defects - please see our Ladder and Access Equipment Inspection guide for reference

When cleaning the gutters you need to be careful of the type of ladder that you use as you don't want to risk damaging the gutter. You therefore need to not only select the right ladder but also the right accessories for the job. To comply with health and safety we do not recommend step ladders for a single storey bungalow as this would mean you'd have to stretch to one side to work, which can be dangerous. We therefore recommend leaning ladders for both a single storey bungalow and for a typical 2 storey house.

How high are the gutters on my house?

The gutter height on a standard single storey house such as a bungelow is roughly about 3.3m and the two storey about 5.8m. This means you need to ensure that the working height of your ladder matches the height of your gutter.

How high is the average 2 storey house in the UK?

A storey/floor is usually 10ft or 3m, 8ft for the internal ceiling height and 2ft allowance for the infrastructure above / below the room. This 8ft ceiling height is based on the normal height of 240cm in the UK; the minimum used tends to be 210cm whereas the maximum tends to be 260cm. Whilst there's no legal requirement to define the ceiling height, these figures tend to be an industry standard for a domestic property.

What is the working height of a ladder?

The recommended safe working height of a ladder for gutter cleaning is 4ft above the step you're standing on. This means you're not overstretching to reach above you and can quite comfortably work whilst maintaining three points of contact.

What is a good ladder for gutter cleaning?

For a single storey house a leaning ladder with a height of 4m or more would be sufficient, taking into account that you should not be standing on the top 3 treads.

For a two storey house you would need an extension ladder with an extension of around 7m. This takes into account the 4 to 1 placement of the ladder angle and variations in gutter height. Our ID Class 1 and END EN131 aluminium extension ladders would both be suitable ladders for this task.

Should I use a ladder stand off bracket?

Because you don't want to be resting your ladders directly onto the gutter as this could damage the gutter, you'll want to be using a ladder stand off bracket to hold the ladder away from the gutter. The stand off bracket fits over the top two rungs of the ladder using quick release spring loaded clips and keeps the ladder about 30cm from the wall. These also give a better working position so you're not directly on the gutter whilst providing more ladder stability. It also spreads the ladder load placing less pressure on the supporting surface. If you're working round corners or over down pipes then a V-Shaped stand off bracket may be more suitable.

Should I use a ladder stabiliser?

When working atop extension ladders it's important to have the ladders as stable as possible, especially if you're going to be clearing the gutters as you don't want to risk accidentally flipping the ladders sideways or having them slip out from under you. Whilst you should be adhering to working at height regulations to prevent this from happening it's always best to have additional stability. Here at Ladders-Direct.com we recommend the Ladder Stopper, which will provide extra grip on flat ground, even during wet conditions as long as the ladder stopper is in direct contact with the ground. If you need to work around grass areas or over decking then the FOOTEE is a good solution as it has spikes designed for use on timber and grass to provide a firm footing.

To ensure you're using your ladders safely we've provided the following checklist:

  • Don't use a ladder that is too short for the task
  • Set up your ladders at the right angle - the ladders will have a safety mark on the side that shows the safest angle to place the ladders
  • Don't rest the ladders directly onto the gutter, instead use a ladder stand off bracket
  • Use a ladder stabiliser for additional stability
  • Don't stand on the top three rungs of a leaning ladder
  • Ensure you have 3 points of contact at all times whilst using the ladder
  • Re-site the ladder as and when required, don't overstretch along the gutter but try to keep your body in-between the ladder stiles
  • Take regular 30 minute breaks - working at height regulations recommend a maximum of 30 minutes up a ladder