eClean October 15

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One anonymous survey participant recalled an incident where he slipped on some pine straw and slid down a third story roof for about 10 feet before catching himself on the gutter. "I'm very selective about gutter cleaning jobs now." While gutter cleaning is hard, nasty, and dangerous, it is also necessary. That's what makes gutter cleaning a profitable service, particularly in the Fall and Spring. But it's imperative to educate customers both on why gutter cleaning is needed as well as the very real risks they are taking by climbing a ladder and doing it themselves. Ladders, Roofs, or Ground A few contractors (around 15%) said they mostly worked from the ground, using tools like the Gutter Ball. Most contractors work from ladders (approx. 50%) or the roof (35%) – and these results were consistent with eClean's gutter cleaning survey from 2013. While ladder work is the most common, method it's usually not the most preferable. "I've found that cleaning from the roof is much quicker than having to move the ladder every time," sad Rob Scott of Mr. Window, Winter Haven, Florida. "However, if the pitch of the roof is too steep to walk, then cleaning from the ladder is a safer way to clean it. I did not ask readers if they wear safety equipment when gutter cleaning from a roof, but I should have. So, I will be posting a poll in a few days so participants can anonymously – and honestly – answer this question. How to Charge Most contractors are willing to do gutter cleaning by itself, although a few will only do gutter cleaning if it's an add-on for another service. And most contractors have a minimum fee they will charge no matter how small the job. The most common minimum named by survey recipients was $100 (or very close). The lowest number – given by a handful of participants – was $50. The highest minimum price was $300, with a couple of $250s coming in second. Most contractors said the primary method for charging is using the linear footage of the gutters, and for many, this is the only consideration. Others look at the linear footage plus the number of stories, some charging more if it's two stories, others only charging more if it's three stories. "Heights don't bother me so the price does not increase per stories," explained John Burdine of Pressure Point Cleaners in Ames, Iowa. "If the roof is steep then I do increase my price. This means more ladder work, hence takes more time." Like Burdine, several contractors charge more if the roof is not walkable. Some also charge more if the gutters have not been cleaned in awhile, or if they determine after starting them that they are more packed than most. Bill Oplinger of Bavarian Window Cleaning said he has opted for charging an hourly rate for gutter cleaning. "That makes it easier since you don't know how much debris the gutters are holding." The one thing that many contractors agreed would impact their rates was if gutter guards were in place. Some charge double or more. "Gutter guards are an upcharge and a lot of times I try to talk customers into taking them off," said Winston Glover of Caretaker Services in Myrtle Beach, SC. "I will take pictures of them and show them how much stuff is under the gutter guards and that it's better to just take them off and do regular cleanings instead." What causes the stripes on the exteriors of gutters and how do I remove them? The black streaks on the outside of gutters – often called "tiger stripes" – are caused by a chemical reaction that occurs between the asphalt from roof shingles and aluminum in gutters. The streaks are not simply stains, and can't be removed with traditional house washing chemicals used for mold and mildew. Rather, the asphalt actually creates a chemical bond with the aluminum – much like road film sticks to trucks – and the bond must be broken for the stains to be removed. A lot of contractors use butyl-based cleaners, which work, but you run the risk of removing paint. Aluminum gutters are anodized to making painting easier, and each manufacturer anodizes differently. In fact, even gutters from the same manufacturer may be anodized differently. This is important because depending on the process used, paint may come off gutters easily if you clean with the wrong product or with a mix that is too hot. There are a few non-butyl based products out there for cleaning gutters, such as the popular Gutter Grenade (F13) by Pressure Tek, which is a mild potassium hydroxide-based solution. Photo courtesy of All Clean Power Washing, "Gutter Cleaning" 27

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