Cleaning your gutters from a ladder can be a worrisome and sometimes dangerous process. By investing in a robotic gutter cleaner, you can reduce your risk of falls, protect your home from gutter clogs and keep run-off water moving away from your largest investment.
We think the iRobot Looj might be the best gutter cleaning tool because it’s cordless which is one less hazard to worry about.
It also has a belt clip so that you can use both hands to climb your ladder instead of trying to climb and carry the robot at the same time.
The remote control features make it so that you don’t need to be on a ladder to operate it. Always remember, safety first!
Why Get A Gutter Cleaning Robot?
If your home has difficult gutter access such as guttering that has to be reached from the second story or from over a carport or large landscaping feature, a remote control gutter cleaner can save you a great deal of risk by only requiring one entry point.
You can clear away enough space for the gutter cleaner to seat safely inside the gutter and send it down the gutter trough to break up clogs and eject them from the gutter channel.
How Well Do They Work?
If you can't move your ladder down the gutter to clear it manually, or if you're uncomfortable working from a ladder, robotic gutter cleaner can save you a lot of work and anxiety.
A robot gutter cleaner such as the iRobot Looj 330 clears debris from your gutters by running an auger through the debris in front of it, determining the best way to break up and eject the clog and removing it from your gutter.
This tool is reversible and can be controlled by either a hand-held remote or a detachable guide stick.
Robot gutter cleaners travel on tracks, not wheels. No matter how hard the tool has to work, the constant contact of the rubberized tracks against the bottom of the gutter will keep this tool moving through clogs of debris.
These rubberized tracks are more reliable than wheels for continuous contact and the whole tool can be rinsed off with a hose when your gutters are done.
The iRobot Looj 330 offers a four stage cleaning process. The auger is propelled forward by the tracks to probe and break up clumps. The soft spinning blades at the front of the auger spin to eject debris from your gutter.
Brushes behind the blades continue to loosen and eject smaller, more lightweight objects from the gutter, and as the tool returns to the user, the blades offer a final cleaning sweep as depicted here:
What's an Auger?
An auger is a punch. Once you place your robot gutter cleaner against the bottom of the gutter, the tool will move forward under your control via the remote to poke or punch into clumps of twigs, dead leaves, and other debris in your gutter.
As the auger creates voids in the clogs of debris, the spinning blades can break up the clogs.
Robotic gutter cleaners offer an internal antenna for reliable control over distance. The iRobot 12501 Looj offers control up to forty feet. The remote control is built into the detachable handle, so you can control the unit manually when placing it into the gutter and getting it started, then detach the handle and control it via remote.
These tools are not programmable to the point that you can leave them in your gutters and run them seasonally. It would be wisest to remain at the starting point and recapture the gutter cleaner as it backs out to do the final sweep.
As possible, it would be best to drain away as much water as possible before setting your gutter cleaning tool in the channel.
The rubberized tracks will not find good traction in standing water, thick mud or snow.
If your gutter is full of standing water, start from the drain end to get the water moving down the drain pipe. As the water clears, place the robot cleaner on the dry gutter.
The spinning blades on the gutter cleaner will kick up quite a lot of debris, and much of it may be wet. Be sure to wear eye protection from start to finish so you do not find yourself injured or temporarily blinded on a ladder.
The soft spinning blades of the robotic gutter auger are safe on copper, plastic and metal gutters.
Both the iRobot 330 and the 12501 have a very low profile and should travel the length of your gutter without connecting with the mounting hardware, and the soft spinning blades and brushes should not cause any damage to the mounting nails or brackets.
This is a long tool and is not suitable for sharp angles. Luckily, this means it is not at risk of falling down the drain pipe!
As previously stated, you'll be standing on a ladder in a rain of dead leaves and wet, composted muck. Eye protection, gloves and a hat are a very good idea to protect yourself from the splatter.
Ladder safety and stability is of critical importance; if you're not comfortable on a ladder, you probably won't enjoy using this tool.
While these units are only 4 pounds / 2 kilos, you may need to lean out to place the gutter cleaner into the channel. Safety first!
What If My Gutter Cleaner Gets Stuck?
If the debris in your gutters can't be broken up, back the cleaner to your position and remove it from the channel.
If the channel's frozen, you may need to wait for a thaw. If it's full of dried out debris, consider trying to clean it again after a rain.
Finally, be aware that you may need to call in a professional.
Depending on your ability to climb up on a ladder from time to time, and your budget, a gutter guard may be a better option.
However, gutter guards typically have an expensive upfront cost to cover an entire roofing system.
They tend to last a very long time, so it may be more cost effective in the long run since robots and their electronics can fail over time and parts will need to be replaced.
Basic Ladder Safety
Many people have no business on a ladder. If you don't feel comfortable at heights climbing up thin metal rungs, you probably fall in to this category.
Check out this Portable adder Safety Card by OHSA.
This gutter cleaning tool can save you a lot of trouble such as having to move the ladder down the channel, possibly dragging a garden hose up the ladder with you, or handling a lot of compost trapped in the gutter.
However, it cannot protect you from falls if the ladder is unstable or damaged.
- Use a ladder that can't be stabilized. If you can't find a sturdy spot to place the ladder and a solid area to lean it against, you cannot safely do this project.
- Work alone. A stable ladder can become unstable very quickly if you get a visit from the neighbor's dog or if a strong wind hits you as you reach out to place the robot gutter cleaner in the channel.
- Climb higher than the recommended point. A new ladder is cheaper than a catastrophic fall.
- Be mindful of power lines. Some power lines, such as cable, can be a nuisance on a ladder. Others can kill you, so be aware!
- Make sure the locks on your extension ladder are stable.
- Check the ladder for maximum load capabilities.
- Respect your own feelings and fears about heights in general. Falling is dangerous and painful. If you're frightened enough on a ladder to be a hazard to yourself and others, consider hiring someone for this job.
For many of us, our home is the largest investment we'll ever make. Investing in a robotic cleaner for your gutters can enable you to handle this chore safely and efficiently.
Monitor your gutters during heavy rains and watch out for any that are over-flowing along the channel; these are issues that you'll need to attend to, as clogged gutters get very heavy. These tools can help you protect your physical safety and your home.