With a little ingenuity, you can use your leaf blower to help clear your gutters before they develop troublesome clogs.
Gutters can be easy to take for granted. Their only real function is to divert rainwater from your roof away from critical parts of your home.
Gutter problems are often the result of old leaves, twigs, and other debris getting trapped in the system. These clogs can cause your gutters can fail.
As time goes on, sections could start to pull away from the roofline, and excess water can start to affect your foundation.
Gutter maintenance really is a situation where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of repair. Fall is generally the time when gutters are most likely to accumulate debris.
It’s also the time of year when you are most likely to be cleaning up the yard with a leaf blower.
Sure, there are home maintenance services that will come out and clean your gutter for a fee. Yet did you know that it is possible to convert your leaf unassuming leaf blower into a gutter cleaner?
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How Can I Use My Leaf Blower to Clean Gutters?
A handful of lawn appliance manufacturers who specifically sell optional add-ons that harness the power of leaf blowers and lawn vacuums to clean leaf litter out of gutters.
Unfortunately, many of them cost a pretty penny compared to what you will spend to create one yourself.
With some basic hardware items and a little mechanical skill, you can transform your leaf blower into a gutter cleaner.
There are a couple of ways to do it depending on your leaf blower, the size of its nozzle, and the height of your roofline.
Gas and backpack leaf blowers are usually the easiest to modify. They also tend to be the most powerful.
If your roof line isn’t too high, they might even have enough power to spare you having to climb a ladder. Most corded electric and battery powered leaf blowers also have enough power to handle the job.
There are two different configurations to consider. The first is a PVC attachment. The second is a flexible hose like you find on a shop vac.
If your roofline is higher than one story, you should probably lean toward the PVC version.
Make a Homemade DIY Leaf Blower Gutter Cleaner
Most of what you need for the PVC attachment can be found in the plumbing section of just about any box hardware store. Before you go there are some key measurements you should take such as:
- The internal diameter of your leaf blower nozzle
- The external diameter of your leaf blower nozzle
- The height of your roofline/gutters
- Items you will need to make your own gutter cleaner attachment:
- A sufficient length of 2” PVC pipe sufficient to reach the gutters
- An extra 6” length of PVC
- A 2” compatible PVC U-Joint
- Duct tape
- PVC cement and primer (Optional)
Sometimes the 2” PVC pipe will fit snuggly into the leaf blower’s exhaust port. Should this be the case you simply need to wrap it snugly in place with some duct tape. Then you attach the U-Joint with the additional 6” length of PVC at the top.
A little PVC primer and glue can help connect the U-Joint and other PVC components together for a permanent hold. If you have plans for repurposing the PVC components, you can carefully duct tape them together.
Tips For Using Duct Tape
Duct tape is one of those things that invite you to use it haphazardly. Yet there are some things you can do keep the attachment looking clean while ensuring a tight fit, and making it easy to take apart later.
When you wrap the duct tape, make sure to go at least one full pass around the circumference at the joint.
Then turn the next strip at a roughly 30-degree angle and make two diagonal passes with the tape. The goal is to create an X pattern right over the joint line.
When you get to the end of your wrap, you want to fold over the last inch or two. This will leave behind a short tag which will be easy to grip when you need to unwrap all the duct tape later.
How Do I Use PVC Primer and Cement?
You will need PVC primer and cement if you want the gutter cleaner attachment to be permanently affixed. It’s important to use both, and not just the cement, if you want a firm hold without any air leaks.
The PVC primer starts a complex chemical process on the surface of the PVC which essentially softens the surface.
To use it you simply wipe an inch-wide strip around both PVC surfaces being mated. Then give it a solid 10-seconds for the chemical process to start.
At that point, you wipe a small amount of PVC cement on one surface and the set the two together. Hold it firmly for at least 30-seconds.
Then set it down where it won’t be disturbed. The cement will need at least two hours to fully cure and seal.
What If The PVC Pipe Doesn’t Fit The Leaf Blower Nozzle?
Sometimes the PVC just doesn’t fit snugly on the leaf blower nozzle. In a situation like this, you might need to improvise a little. A plumbing compression fitting might seem tempting.
However, I think you’ll find that it wiggles and loosens at unfortunate times, which will also break the air seal between the blower and the attachment.
Wrapping some excessive layers of duct tape around the end of the nozzle might thicken it to the point where you can squeeze the PVC onto it.
Though this workaround can be a little clumsy and the duct tape on the nozzle can be hard to remove.
One easy and cheap option to try is something called a “Rubber Reducer Coupler Fitting.” It’s a short piece of rubber tubing that is narrow on one end and thicker on the other.
You can find it in the plumbing section nearby the PVC piping. Just make sure you walk into the store with all your measurements written down.
Most Rubber Reducer Couplers come with stainless steel pipe clamps on each end. They allow you to tighten each end in place.
You then use a screw or nut driver to loosen it when you want to remove the gutter cleaner attachment.
Can I Use A Shop Vac Hose As A Gutter Cleaner?
If you have a low roofline, or you are comfortable climbing up on a ladder, you might be able to multi-task your shop vac’s flexible hose as a gutter cleaning attachment.
If the blower nozzle and the shop vac hose connection are relatively compatible in size, it is certainly the cheaper option.
You will need to make sure that there is a good air seal. This typically requires copious amounts of duct tape. If possible, you want the throat of the shop vac hose to fit over the blower nozzle.
If the external diameter of the shop vac hose is smaller than the internal diameter of the blower nozzle, you might have to cut some pieces off the couple.
This would then make it impossible for use on the shop vac. I would only recommend taking this route if you have a spare hose!
Can I Use a Leaf Vacuum To Clean My Gutters?
Leaf vacuums, which are sometimes called “Lawn Vacuums” are also very popular for yard cleanup. Some of them can also double as a blower.
A unit like this might also be a good option for cleaning debris out of your gutter.
For the most part, a leaf vacuum will use pretty much the same type of attachment as the blower. Just keep in mind that the vacuum will be sucking debris instead of blowing material away. This could lead to clogs in the PVC.
Should this happen, it’s helpful to be able to take the PVC apart to clean the clog out with a long dowel.
I would recommend taping all the components together rather than trying to permanently cement them.
Many lawn vacuums have compeller blades which essentially shred and chip leaves or other yard debris into small pieces.
Ideally, you can then take the small mass of organic matter and add it straight to your compost bin.
Keeping a narrow pipe or dowel close at hand will also help you break up clogs before they have a chance to damage the compeller system.
How Can I See What’s In My Gutters Without Using A Ladder?
If climbing a tall ladder makes you feel a little leery, you are not alone. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that more than 200,000 ladder-fall injuries occur every year. Of them 150 are fatal!
Yet it can be very handy to see what’s going on in your gutter. One way around this is to attach a small mirror to the top of the U-Joint.
You might be able to find one at a hardware or craft store. In a pinch, something like an old car side mirror, or perhaps the mirror from a disused compact makeup case will do.
To affix it you can try some heavy-duty Velcro tabs or a little creative use of duct tape. You don’t want to drill holes or use screws, as it could affect the air pressure dynamics inside the PVC tube.
From his childhood obsession with gardening to the decade he spent operating a hobby farm, Eric has developed over four decades of experience in self-sufficiency. Not only does this include the organic elements of growing and tending plants, but it also includes a wealth of experience in
maintaining lawns, landscaping, and equipment.
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