As the persistently bad winter weather gives way to the warmer spring temperatures, the list of outside DIY projects is growing for many homeowners. This winter was especially tough and dangerous to our homes causing damages that need repaired. There are many reasons that homeowners will consider doing DIY projects such as:
- Cost – hiring professionals can be pricey
- Job Simplicity – the job appears to be simple enough to accomplish without a professional service
- Personal – doing the job yourself can feel rewarding
- Trust – we don’t trust others to work on our home
We can relate to these reasons and were inspired to draw from our own experiences to provide some informative tips about gutter work. We often relate to homeowners through resources within our blog. You can find articles on trust, cost and gutter work drawn from our own experience as gutter installers. This blog will focus primarily on tips of safety as we are constantly reminded of the dangers lurking in elevated working conditions. We plan and train for various hazards that are found on the job site but can never be over-prepared. Before tackling you own DIY project, borrow these tips from our own professional experience.
Our first tip is to be fully prepared for the job. Having surprises at an elevated level is the last thing a gutter job needs. Surprises come from many places including the working environment, weather conditions, tool malfunctions and material deficiencies. The Brothers that just do Gutters always sends two-man crews to a job to maintain safety at all times. We suggest any homeowner to do the same and have an assisting hand.
Setting up a ladder properly is often inscribed on the stickers accompanying the ladder, but just to cover the basics, here is the suggestive way to set up a ladder. With the ladder standing straight up and down, extend the ladder out until your arms are straight. The ladder should now be resting against the building. The ladder should be on level ground and the top of the ladder should be resting evenly against the house. Resting the ladder against the gutter can cause the ladder to shift during climbing. Resting the ladder against the drip edge can cause the ladder to wiggle. After setting the ladder up in the safest way possible, test the ladder for stability. If the ideal setup cannot be achieved, have a second person “foot” the ladder. Footing a ladder requires that a person secures the base of the ladder by using their feet and hands to hold the ladder in place. If the conditions are too contaminated with obstacles, ground slope or structures, then the work must be accomplished by another method.
Be aware of your surrounding in all three dimensions. Not seeing a power line can make it a costly DIY job. Setting a ladder on a weathered deck – especially in early morning dew or after a fresh rain – can be another painful source of cost. A mud slick and wet grass can provide for slippery ladder footing. A bow window may intrude on a safe ladder angle when trying to reach the roof of a two-story house. When on the roof, be aware of moss, lichens and other shade-born slicks. Roof grit can be very sandy and loose making footing very slick. Shingles may be torn or loose from the winter snow and ice. Our suggestion is to do as much work from the ladder as possible and don’t overreach. It is easy to loose balance when reaching too far. Know your limits and call a professional if the job is too tough.
Tool malfunction can occur with any tool – not just the cheaper ones – so be aware of tool conditions. The one tool we can’t afford to have malfunction is our ladder. You want to make sure the ladder is in good condition and the hinges are not rusted badly. Another tool that we depend on is our tool belt. You may need both your hands at any given time and finding an ideal location for resting a 5 lb drill is difficult. Find the appropriate tool belt, pouches and tool hangers to make it easier to get tools on and off the belt but also secure the tools appropriately. Tool belts add weight and can quickly offset your balance so utilize some care when using belts on a ladder or roof. Check the charge on a drill battery before attempting a difficult gutter install or repair. A drill can quit at the worst times making it a balancing act to get the tool onto the belt while holding the gutter material. The last thing a homeowner wants is to fall with sharp tools on their belt. Dropping a tool can also be very costly. We have had to replace a car window or two.
Safety at elevated levels is fully dependent on maintaining balance. Balance is managed best by starting with proper setup and tools but extends to being mindful of conditions at all times. Even a cleaning job with a secure environment can have safety failures from weather conditions or material deficiencies. When we clean a gutter and downspout, sometimes the downspout will not unclog properly. To properly clean the downspout we remove the upper section. This can be difficult to manage safely since the downspout is installed with tension to create structural integrity. Getting the downspout apart requires a force that can shift a person’s balance very quickly.
This blog just covered some of the safety tips we have experienced ourselves. Look for our next blog when we talk about job simplicity. Doing a gutter install, repair or cleaning may be simple enough to do, but doing it right is a lot tougher. We will share some tips to getting the job done right. Be sure to check our website for information about gutter jobs. We can come out and give a free quote. Call us at 845-223-6111 or visit our website and fill out a form.