The height of second story gutters creates some challenges when cleaning them. When you’re learning how to clean second story gutters, you can remove debris by hand or vacuum it out, either way, it should be done safely. Cleaning by hand requires working on a ladder the whole time. As an alternative, you can build a homemade gutter vacuum and limit the time that you spend on a ladder.
Either way, you should follow these best practices for ladder safety:
- Make sure the ladder is stable.
- Test the ladder for stability before you climb all the way up.
- Use pieces of scrap wood to stabilize ladder legs on soft or uneven ground.
- Lean the ladder against the gutter where there is a gutter bracket.
- Move the ladder when you can’t reach into the gutter without leaning.
- If possible, have a partner hold the ladder while you’re up there.
Directions for How to Clean Second Story Gutters
Cleaning gutters by hand:
- Lean your extension ladder against the roofline where a bracket secures the gutter.
- Straighten the open part of a wire hanger.
- Loop the long part of the wire hanger around the handle of a plastic bucket.
- Use the original hook of the hanger to hang the bucket from the second-highest rung of the ladder.
- As an alternative to the bucket on the ladder, you may spread a tarp on the ground below the ladder. Throw gutter debris on the tarp as you work.
- Climb the ladder once you confirm that it is stable.
- Put on your gloves and start scooping debris out of the gutter with the garden trowel.
- If you have an air compressor with a long hose, you may use it to carefully blow debris out of the gutter.
- Collect debris in your bucket on the tarp as you work.
- After cleaning about five feet of gutter, move your ladder and start working in a new spot. You don’t want to overextend yourself reaching out laterally from the ladder.
- After all debris has been removed, put a spray nozzle on a garden hose.
- Spray out the gutters and confirm that the downspouts are draining quickly.
- If you encounter a downspout blockage, try blasting it out with the hose.
- If the hose does not work, remove the downspout from the wall.
- Push a stick, like a broom handle, through the downspout to physically force the clog-free.
Cleaning gutters with a homemade gutter vacuum:
- Get a wet/dry vacuum with at least 3.5 horsepower.
- Attach a rigid extension to its hose.
- Bring the vacuum to your work location.
- Use an extension cord as necessary to connect it to a power supply.
- Measure from the top of the gutter to the height of your knees standing on the ground.
- Use this measurement to cut a rigid plastic pipe. This pipe will serve as a vacuum extension beyond the rigid hose extension.
- Cut the pipe to length with a hacksaw.
- Fit a 90-degree elbow on the top end of the pipe.
- Measure the width and depth of the gutter.
- Cut a short piece of pipe the width of the gutter.
- Connect this to the 90-degree elbow on the long pipe.
- Fit the other 90-degree elbow on the opposite end of the short piece.
- Cut a short piece of pipe the depth of the gutter.
- Connect this to the open 90-degree elbow to build a U-shaped gutter vacuum.
- Tape all seams completely.
- Tape the long pipe to the vacuum extension.
- Working from the ground, lift the gutter vacuum extension into the gutter.
- Vacuum out debris.
- Empty the vacuum as necessary because suction decreases as it gets full.
- After collecting all debris, flush the gutters and downspouts with a hose.
- Tackle any clogs in downspouts in the same manner described above.