It’s the fall window cleaning season, which means it’s a good time to offer rain gutter cleaning as an add-on service to create additional profits from your new or existing customers.
as you’ve heard me mention before, there are many services you can offer your new or previous customers that compliment window cleaning. some are profitable and some are not. rain gutter cleaning is one of the services you can make at least $60 per hour performing.
1. necessity – cleaning is necessary for the gutter to function properly.
2. hazardous – it’s a service most residential and commercial property owner can’t perform safely
3. lack of safety training – employers must provide a “safe working environment” for employees. (us law) as a result, most commercial property owners are ill-equipped to provide the safety training their maintenance person or staff needs to use high access equipment like extension ladders, manlifts, ropes, carabiners, fall arrest devices etc…
during the course of this article, i’m going to show you how to:
- clean rain gutters
- what equipment to use
- ladder safety tips
- unclog down-spouts
- maximize on locations profits
gutters are designed to capture rain water and direct that water to a desirable location… like into city waste water systems or along building foundations where pedestrian foot traffic is at a minimum.
often due to tree leaves and wind carrying dirt and debris; gutters can get clogged. this is especially common during the fall season where clogged gutters can permit rain water to overflow gutter’s edge and fall into undesirable areas.
gutter cleaning can be performed in 2 ways
1. hand scoop method
2. pressure cleaning method
hand scoop method
access clogged gutter via the appropriate sized extension ladder and hand scoop debris into a) garbage bag, b) place in bucket or c) throw debris to ground below. choose the best collection method based on your jobsite evaluation.
if you are cleaning metal gutters that can hold a little extra weight, you can modify a bucket to hang from gutter by cutting middle of bucket’s metal handle and crimping divided handle arms to wrap around and hang from gutter edge. one problem with this method is, you won’t have a useable handle to carry bucket down ladder once it’s full of gutter waste material. this may present a safety issue.
if you choose to use the garbage bag method, this will require you to carry a heavy garbage bag down a ladder. this action also requires your full attention to prevent a fall and possible injury to yourself. i prefer filling several small plastic bags rather than a few large ones… this will help minimize fall hazards due to the lesser weight of the filled smaller bag.
the safest way to get gutter debris down a ladder is simply to drop it to the ground after each hand scoop. this will make a mess of the area below and may not be appropriate for every jobsite but, in my experience, is the safest method.
Ladder safety tips for gutter cleaning
i recommend the use of rubber ladder mitts or other ladder stabilizing devices to help minimize ladder movement. resting a ladder against a metal gutter is extremely unstable… it’s like stepping on a banana peel so, don’t perform this type of work without considering the safety benefits of ladder stabilizing devices.
it’s important to note that you’ll need to move your extension ladder frequently; approximately your arm’s width. in other words, when working from a ladder, do not extend the center of your body’s torso past either side rail of ladder, i.e.. (do not over reach).
this requires climbing up, cleaning a section of gutter, climbing down, repositioning ladder, and repeating this process. to minimize repositioning ladder, you might want to use a…
gutter scooper: long perforated plastic gutter scooper, shaped like a spoon, can help gather debris and extend your reach, therefor minimizing ladder repositioning. as a result, you can complete the job faster, which can help you make more money per hour if the job is based on a “bid price” method. gutter scoopers are available at window cleaning supply stores world wide.
gloves, rubber or garden type, can help prevent cutting hands on sharp gutter edges when using the hand scoop method.
Pressure cleaning method
use a pressure washer to unclog gutters. this is the best way to unclog gutters when you are already performing roof pressure washing services for a customer… you literally just high pressure spray the gutter clean while you’re standing on the roof. this method requires the use of a fall arrest system, i.e.. (rope, lanyard, rope grap, carabiners and harness).
for more information on all of the necessary equipment to access, rig and clean roofs and gutters using a pressure washer, read chapter 5 of my free ebook located here.
until then, it’s important to realize pressure washers can make a huge mess… especially when spraying out a clogged gutter system! if you are hired to unclog gutters and clean windows for a customer, i’d highly suggest using the ‘hand scoop’ method. but, if you are already pressure washing a roof, use the ‘pressure washing’ method because you’ll need to be continuously spraying out gutter as roof moss and other organic material fills gutters.
clogged downspouts can also present a problem. if a sufficient amount of debris has fallen into and clogged a downspout, a pressure washer can sometimes be the best and fastest way to breakup debris. simply insert sprayer tip into downspout and spray until unclogged.
if downspout does not clear after 5 minutes of applying high pressure water then, (inch by inch from bottom to top), lightly tap on downspout with your hand until you hear a noticeable higher frequency. this is how to locate the clogs location. an empty or hollow downspout, will have a lower pitch than a clogged downspout. it will sounds something like this, “boom boom boom”… and when you find the clog, it will sound like, “bap bap bap”.
once you’ve located the clog, keep tapping until debris loosens and flushes out bottom of downspout. remember, if you’ve filled the downspout with water from above, when the debris loosens it will flush…
another method is to use a sink auger or plumber’s snake to unclog downspouts. in addition, it’s handy to have at least 100′ of garden hose, (2 x 50′ hoses), and a spray nozzle at the jobsite. these items you can get at your local hardware store.
attach hose to your customer’s exterior building hose bib, turn on water, take nozzle end to ladder top and fill downspout until it backs up water into gutter.
next, insert sink auger into downspout and rotate auger until down-spout flushes water through. if the clog is too far down the down-spout to reach with an auger, use the hand tap method or pressure washer method.
don’t own a pressure washer?… no problem!
let the customer know you need to rent one at your local equipment rental store and you’ll add the cost of the rental to their bill. pressure washers rent for approximately $65 half day / $100 full day. most rental companies will rent you a pressure washer with a 50′ hose… make sure to ask for extra hose if your project requires it. typical houses require 100′ of hose to reach the roof line, around corners etc…
also don’t forget to charge your customer for the extra time it takes you to drive and get needed rental equipment and to return it. remember, if the point of adding on services to your business is to make no-less than your standard hourly rate then…
…make sure to charge no-less than (your hourly rate) — even when you are driving to run necessary errands for a customer!
Suggestions on pricing
this picture, (above), shows 1/5th of the amount of gutter i had to clean for this commercial building. i hand scooped debris into small bags and did not have to flush out down-spouts. the job took 4 hours and 15 minutes and i charged the customer $390 which is equal to $90 per hour.
you can customize it with your business name, telephone number and any information you’d like in the “blank space” at the bottom of this marketing tool.
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most home owners are smart enough to call a professional when it comes to doing work around their homes that require high ladder climbing and moving. many commercial buildings may not have a trained employee that can handle this type of hazardous work…
…that’s where you come in and offer your services.
many times, you’ll be on-location, cleaning windows for a customer, this is the time to ask if they’d like you to add-on gutter cleaning to the project. this is the best way to maximize ‘on location’ profits without spending a dime on advertising.
Again, high ladder work is no joke… it is dangerous and you must take every precaution to prevent an accident. this is the type of work you don’t want to feel rushed to complete because you’ve accidentally given an estimate that was too low.
want more info on how to price window cleaning jobs? or… want to know what services can help you make no less than $60 per hour? click here to access all of my window cleaning trade secrets.