Tips to use Ladders Safely!
Do you know just how important ladder safety is, especially when cleaning gutters? Even the slightest misstep could land you in hospital or worse. A fall from even the smallest height can result in injury. Choosing the right ladder for the job and using it correctly is only the first step towards ladder safety while cleaning gutters. So, let’s find out how we can all stay safe while making sure our gutters are in tip top condition. A little ladder safety knowledge can go a long way.
Use the right type of ladder for the height of the building
Choosing the right ladder to suit your particular needs is crucial to ensuring your own safety and the safety of others while cleaning gutters. There are a few different types of ladders that might work for the task at hand. The main factor in choosing a ladder will depend on the height of the gutter in question.
The heights of gutters will vary between properties, however, the average height of a gutter on a single storey house is around 3.3 metres, and a two-storey house is approximately 5.7 metres.
Extension ladders are ladders that are, well, extendable. The name says it all! Some are constructed in a telescopic style, extending through a well-built internal structure, others extend externally by pushing one frame of the ladder up on runners and locking it in against the other frame for extra height. Due to their flexible height, extension ladders are mostly used for accessing tall roofs and second-storey gutter cleaning jobs but may be used for work a little closer to the ground if the height fits.
Folding ladders are mid-sized ladders built with an A-frame axis that locks into position, providing ample support due to built-in spreader braces. These ladders are generally perfect for cleaning gutters located on one-storey homes and other mid-sized structures.
When using A-frame ladders, always use them in the correct way, by unfolding them and locking them into place. Don’t try to straddle the top either. Sure, they have rungs on either side but that doesn’t mean you should use both of them at the same time.
Step ladders shouldn’t be used when cleaning gutters unless the gutter is situated low enough to the ground to be able to reach it comfortably. Bungalows and other smaller structures are a possible exception as their roofs tend to be lower than that of a larger home or commercial building.
Aside from choosing a ladder of the right height, it’s also important to choose one that meets Australian Safety Standards. No, that rickety old wooden ladder still sitting in grandad’s shed from the 1970s probably isn’t going to cut it.
Set the ladder up correctly and safely
Here are a few tips to make sure your ladder is set up safely for gutter cleaning purposes:
1. Make sure the surface the ladder is sitting on is stable and not slippery or uneven at all.
2. Check for obstructions overhead like branches or electric wires.
3. Use a gutter-safe ladder stabiliser to help keep the ladder stable and to help protect your gutters from damage. Anti-slip guards are also great if you don’t have someone to hold the ladder to keep it sturdy for you.
4. Angle the ladder correctly and safely. Setting the feet up around 1m away from the wall or other vertical surface for each 4m of height is what we generally recommend. Most new ladders will come with a safety mark to show the correct angle, so keep an eye out for that too.
Use the ladder correctly and safely while cleaning gutters
Now that your ladder is set up, it’s time to get stuck into the hard work. These few tips will help you use your ladder safely:
- When climbing a ladder, be wary of any obstacles overheard and avoid distractions as much as possible.
- Do not exceed the ladder’s recommended weight restrictions (including items you are carrying).
- Don’t overreach or step above the rung that indicates the recommended point to stop climbing. Get down and move the ladder along if you find yourself reaching too far.
- When you need to move along to the next point in the gutter, take a quick break for a few minutes after you climb down to move the ladder along before climbing back up. Gutter cleaning is tiring work – a drink of water and a stretch can do a world of good.
- Be very careful when using gutter vacuums or other tools or appliances. Though they are handy, gutter vacuums, pressure washers and the like can increase the risk of injury from falling as they may cause you to overbalance by getting in the way and knocking you down or simply distracting you from concentrating on the ladder while operating them.
- Always keep at least 3 points of contact with the ladder. That means either two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot holding on at all times.
Which ladder brand is best for cleaning gutters?
Honestly, it really comes down to personal choice with this one. While there are a wide range of ladders out there, each gutter cleaning professional has their own personal opinion as to which is the best. So, whether you choose to use a Gorilla, a Bailey or something completely different, just remember to do your research, check out reviews and choose the ladder brand you’re most comfortable with.
We’ve done our best here to help provide some tips on ladder safety while cleaning gutters BUT this doesn’t substitute for any professional training in ladder safety. If you do plan on using a ladder to clean gutters, please seek out your own training and do your research to ensure safety is your number 1 priority.
We clean gutters so you don’t have to!