Gutter cleaning in Canada

This has been my first season gutter cleaning and I’ve got some questions for others in my area.

  1. Do you find every job that you do, the stuff in there is always wet? I’ve yet to find a home with dry debris.

  2. What’s with all the shingle gravel and sludge in there? Is this just a Canadian thing? You can’t clear all this with your hands, you have to flush it down the troughs and downspouts. This can’t be good for the environment.

  3. Do gutter installers not know how to angle the troughs towards the downspouts? Seems most places I go the water is traveling in the wrong direction.

  4. What do you do for these older (Toronto) homes where they are so close together? Your ladder would have to be almost completely vertical. Do you climb onto the roofs and tie off? Work in teams? I always have to pass on these homes.

  5. Do you find that these low cost gutter screens (metal or vinyl) actually make your job harder and do little to stop debris coming in?

  6. What’s with all these wires (generates heat) running through the troughs? I’ve decided to nickname them ‘debris trappers’. The wires may stop the troughs from freezing but they also stop proper water flow.

Part of the above was venting but I would like some serious replies to these questions. Thanks

BTW, anyone else in the US that has had similar experience is more than welcome to participate.

  1. I very rarely find gutters w/ dry debris unless someone calls in July.

2.The grit is usually from the roof install or storm damage. It’s normal and it’s actually the fiberglass covering of the shingles. Usually when it finds it’s way to the ground it just filters into the ground w/ no harm.

  1. Installers - like wcers some pride themselves in doing a good job and some are just there to collect the check and run. Typically the gutters should drop 1/4" per foot of gutter length. Of course that’s towards the downspout!:wink:

  2. I run across a few like this here and if the roof pitch isn;t to steep I’ll do them from the roof. Otherwise I just pass on the job.

  3. I started a gutter job this summer and found it had those flimsy gutter guards and the house was surrounded by pine trees. Of course the gutter guard was bunched up and the gutters were full of needles. I told the homeowner about the situation and since she had some gutter repair scheduled she decided to wait and have them take the old guards off. I tried telling her about Rain Flow but her contractor had sold her on gutter helmet (that solid metal cap) already.

  4. I’ve only had one job like this and it was so bad that some of the wire had become exposed (thankfully it wasn’t on). When I told him he called his handyman and had it removed. I returned the next week and did a final clean of the gutters.

Gutter Cleaning Question

In the past I like most, have used hand scoops or a gas blower to clean gutters. There are Craftsmen vacuum gutter cleaning attachments out out there also. I feel the blower sometimes make to much a mess in(wet stinky gutters). Has anyone here every used a gas blower that has a vacuum attachment w/ a shoulder bag to clean out gutters. If yes, does it work well, less clogging, less mess etc. Just wondering if it is worth the $50 to get the set up for my blower or not.


This is why I haven’t gone the blower route. I haven’t come across one job where it would work. All the jobs I’ve had it is sooooo wet and the stuff is just crammed in there.

BTW, thanks Tony for your detailed reply.

Happy to help Mark! I had a blower/mulcher that I used when I found a gutter dry enough but if you want to use it as a vaccuum then I’d modify it to use a length of tubing instead of a bag. That way you could direct the debris to the ground and avoid a very wet nasty bag.


It sounds like you have just used a blower/vac in the blow mode? The gutters here in TX seem to be wet and neglected. I have found stuff that looks like “black gold” compost with earthworms in the gutter. That house had the cheap mesh over them so they were not cleaned in years. Owners thinking that was keeping stuff out WRONG!! I own a Makita Blower, they have an add on with a big wide mouth for the vac, I think I could rig a tapered tip to fit in the gutter to vac it out. I am wondering if it would still have enough power to suck up all that lurks in the gutters. If it does work I think (hope) that it would be quicker and cleaner the using a gutter spoon. Plus less mess of the customers yard and less for me to clean up one the ground. I have seen some disasters done with foolish guys blowing a bunch of wet muck on the customers house and their neighbors houses. Then rig some set up to catch the muck into a trash can or large bucket. I may just have to try it out to see if it will work. If someone has tried this please reply when you get a chance. Does it work or is not worth the time?


Hey Mark,
Same stuff in Connecticut.

The stuff is some times dry and I think harder to pick up then if they were wet, I think being wet condenses the leaves so you get more per handful. Yes most are wet and stinky though.

I dont know about the enviromental impact of the grit but do as you do, flush it.

Almost impossible to flush when the gutters are pitched wrong eh.

Around here any really tough to access gutters are easy rain flow sales if you can get to them.

Up until recently I would charge my normal rate to remove screens, If they want them back on I charge 2 times what I would normally charge if there were no screens at all. Now I will replace with rain flow or walk as I hate all other protection sytems I have run into in the ten years I’ve been doing this.

Yes the debris trappers suck for the most part but can aide you in unclogging the downspouts by putting water to the downspout and gently tugging on the wires usually will unclog most downspouts. I also
charge 10-15% more for these babies.

Only when the stuff is dry enough. We have the black gold here as well. Good enough that I’ve seen corn growing out of gutters that are neglected. In the vaccuum/mulching mode my set up used a bag. It would almost certainly ruin the bag in time. That’s why I suggested some modification w/ a tube to direct the debris down.

OMG what a pain. Had one of these the other day. Small bungalow took me way to long to complete. I told the customer about the pitch problem and explained that the debris is gone for the most part but there is still lots of standing water. Told him to get an aluminum guy in to fix the pitch and add another downspout. (not the kind of work I want to get into)


Wouldn’t work in many of the situations I’ve had this week. Just like that robot one that goes right into the gutter and runs along flinging debris out. So may homes I’ve done, the shingle overhang makes it even hard for your hand to reach in let alone this high tech stuff.

Still, I’m sure this thing rocks in some markets somewhere.


Had an unwalkable two-story last month with cement tiles that just shreaded my gloves due to the narrow gap – the vast majority of debris was a 3+ year accumulation of dust from the tiles.

Down here there are so many houses with a 50’ or 60’ run with only one downspout and there could have been two. In the past I have added downspouts and rehung the gutter so it had the proper pitch (1/4" in a 1’ or 1" in 4’) and it can be quite challenging for a one man show like myself, or even two guys. Now I just recomend that they call the roofer or painter who messed them up or to a seamless gutter company in the area.