Electricity running through gutters?!

So generally I use a stand-off when cleaning gutters, doing my sets on the roof to keep the ladder from resting against and possibly dinging up the gutters. On a job recently I climbed up and started to hand-clean the line when all of a sudden my arm starts a tinglin’. At first it felt like I hit my funny bone, but then I started to get all light headed and faint. I got down from the ladder and had to sit down for a few minutes to get my bearings and wrap my head around what just happened. After ruling out a stroke I followed the gutter line and the downspout just happened to come down right beside the electrical box.

 I called the homeowner and told her to call the power company right away.  They came out right away, saying it was a huge fire risk, and that the area I was working in had 90 volts running through it. 

 Now, the day this happened there was a little water in the gutters and I was wearing insulated gloves.  I'm not sure what would have happen had I rested the ladder directly on them.  Just goes to show some things are out of your control and even if you're very safety minded sch.

Glad to hear you are safe and well.

Wow! Glad that you’re okay. Guess it means to preview the job for such safety issues before doing it. Always safety first but who would have thought of this one?

Geez man, that’s freaky! Glad you dodged that bullet. So what was the deal, was it just a bad electrical setup or what? What made the current jump to the downspout?

Not sure exactly. The downspout and the electrical box both entered the ground within a few inches of each other. I’ve cleaned the gutters at the same house 4 or 5 times in the past with no issues so it was a recent development.

Thanks for the concerned responses. The ladder set was up over a paved driveway so had I passed out it would have been a messy fall for sure! I generally wear my climbing helmet when doing ladder and roof work but just happened to leave it sitting in the van that morning.

Water and electricity going down the same hole. Interesting!

There has got to be a way to assess an area where water is or will be and where electricity is.

Window cleaning (wfp, etc), pressure washing, and gutter cleaning are some of the services where we should assess correctly. Maybe we should start a thread on that!

Sounds good …Do it !


That’s a scary one I have not yet heard of. I just can’t understand why the codes allow things like downspouts right at the powerhead. If you have a clog in a downspout near a powerhead, how do they expect you to safely clear the clog?

Same thing happened to me twice one year
One a ho!e customer thought it was funny
I hope his his burns down

Wow, scary.

[B]I would use it right away in your marketing![/B]

Talk about how we tend to underestimate the dangers of working with ladders, and that relying on a trusted, experienced contractor is the safe bet. Speak to the fact that you recognized unusual symptoms, and immediately climbed down, and that a homeowner or contractor who didn’t know what to expect might have done lasting harm to themselves.

This isn’t playing upon fear of a bogeyman, this is the real deal. Use it to help people protect themselves.

good ideas Kevin

if the ladder had been set on the gutter you probably would have felt it from the first step on the ladder (sooner in the process)

Absolutely and well said. The homeowner was both extremely concerned and relieved that I wasn’t injured and very grateful in how I responded and addressed the situation. I’m sure she would provide a testimonial about it as well. Thanks for the advice Kevin.

Maybe set the ladder up and drop it on the gutter so you aren’t touching it when it comes in contact. Then use one of those voltage pens to check the ladder. Idk. Just a thought

I’d think it would be pretty easy during your walk-around to note any downspouts that come down right next to the electrical box. In the case that they do a voltage pen test on the downspout next to the box should be enough?

Is there maybe a way to reach the gutter from the ground with a voltage indicator? Downspout may work. If you use a stand off you could climb up and test. It would be a pain, but worth not not getting shocked (a REAL pain).


Now take my advice and do it~


wow that is scary

Man thats scary stuff.