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I am very comfortable working on the gutters (usually just cleaning them) from one story up by just sitting on the roof. I do this on my own home over the garage and at my parents one-story home.

I noticed some debris in the gutters on my 'big roof' on the two story part of my home. From past experience I have not been comfortable working on gutters from the roof on two story houses.

I am generally comfortable with heights and safety harnesses. I get to go climbing and rappelling a few times a year. I would prefer that if I fall to my doom, it happens doing something cool on a mountain. Not cleaning my gutters and falling on my shrubberies.

What is the correct (safe) way to address gutter problems? From a ladder? From the roof?

If either is acceptable what precautions need to be taken?

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up vote 20 down vote accepted

Given the choice, I'd put the ladder 2-3' to the side of the downspout. That should allow you to safely reach the downspout and a majority of the problem area without getting off the ladder. Using a stabilizer bar so that you aren't resting on the gutter helps:

enter image description here

This also minimizes wear and tear on the shingles. If you do need to walk on the roof, stay low with your feet always lower than your body, wear shoes/boots with a good grip, and if possible, have a rope attached to something fixed. If you're going to be on the roof a lot, you may want to invest in a harness.

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I didn't know about stabilizer bars! Looks ideal for gutter cleaning... Went to Home Depot today, but they wanted $120 for one. I balked. Do you remember how much you paid for yours? – Portman May 21 '11 at 3:17
They are anywhere from $30-50 on Amazon with free shipping. – BMitch May 21 '11 at 11:14
The ladder in the photo is set up dangerously. There are labels on the side of ladders which show the correct pitch. The one in the photo needs to be steeper for two reasons. First for strength, second for a larger percentage of the weight to be on the ladder's feet. It could be set up more steeply if the stabilizer was mounted on the house side of the ladder, but perhaps not steeply enough. For narrow soffits like that, the ladder/stabilizer can bear against the house. – mike Oct 23 '13 at 14:08

I notice when I work on the porch roof gutters that I'm leaning forward on a slanted roof. Seems like it would be easy to misjudge where my center of gravity is and roll right over the edge. On a 1 story roof, this may not cause much injury, but I wouldn't feel safe on a second story roof. Ladder it is for me

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