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Technical Gutter Cleaning – The Spoon

Gutter SpoonsWhat do we use? Gutter Spoons. Now this might look like its one step away from a salad spoon from the kitchen drawer, but it really is the most effective solution.  To use the spoon, you need to be above the gutter, so you have an unobstructed view of what is going on. Its much easier to ensure that the system is working. Second, it allows our technicians to quickly remove a large amount of material from a gutter, but with the added advantage of being able to reach deep into its corners and crevices. Finally, its light: we can use spoons while walking on the roof, or on top of a ladder. .

James & Gutter Spoon

The Evolution of Gutter Cleaning Services – Gutter Cleaning Program Care

Overflowing GutterIn order to maintain a healthy business relationship, both sides must feel good about a service agreement; the purchaser and the service provider.  This can be especially challenging with gutter cleaning based on expectations for results of the service.  Can one visit in the fall to clean the gutters at a strata ensure that they are functioning properly until the same time next year?  Sometimes.  But often, this is not the case.  This is due to the differences between cleaning gutters and other services.   This has led to us to:

The Evolution of Gutter Cleaning Services

Most service providers offer a 1 X Gutter cleaning service.  In fact, in the GVRD, this is what most property  managers expect  is the only option that they are able to find for gutter cleaning.  However, in 2009, ServiceMaster Clean Residential introduced a higher level of service in order to meet the actual demands of gutter maintenance around the GVRD.  We believe this is the next step in the evolution of gutter cleaning service.  It has been met with great success over the years.

We realized that the same issues arose each year during gutter cleaning season and determined it was time to do something to address that.  So we took a look at what we routinely faced.  We found this necessary in order to ensure both we as the service provider and our customers felt good about the service arrangement.

We found the most common issues are:

-Small areas around a strata needing extra attention, or getting clogged up weeks or months after the initial service was performed.
– Minor issues that due to repair work needed rather than cleaning
-Strata’s not knowing what was done or not, as gutters can be difficult to see inside.
-Understanding what a ‘clean gutter’ is. (Click here for an article on what a clean gutter is)

We found that the approach most people had to addressing any issue with their gutters, was to phone our office and demand that we come back as we had ‘not done the job right.’

While everyone makes mistakes  and sometimes things might get overlooked during a service, we found that in the majority of these instances were related to one or more of the four issues outlined above.  So in many cases we would do a spot clean for the customer for free, or, clean the area but take photos proving it had been cleaned previously and then charging for the time, or, insist we needed to meet someone on site in order to show them that other problems existed that required repair and could not be fixed with cleaning.   No matter what both sides were not left feeling good about the way things unfolded.  And that’s not the way we want to do business.  We want our customers to feel great about using our company for services.  So what we needed was a way to address the reality of the situation so that everyone felt respected, valued, and treated fairly.  We did this by adding additional levels of service for low cost in our ‘Gutter Cleaning Maintenance Program’ offering.

Includes all Standard Gutter Cleaning PLUS

  1. SERVICE CALLS – By including 6 free spots cleans, our customers know we are dedicated to taking care of their ongoing needs, and that we understand a 1x visit to clean gutters does not always provide enough attention to keep gutters functioning properly throughout the year.  We anticipate that new clogs can and do happen, and are prepared to fix them as they come up over time.  We also look at the bigger picture to  determine how best to ensure that the customers gutter systems are maintained.

    Do new problems arise because a section of the strata has gutters in heavily treed areas?  Did the first service get done early in the season, and a lot of leaves fell after that service was complete?  Did a gutter get plugged up because some kids playing with tennis balls sent one up into the gutter that plugged the top of the downspout?  It doesn’t matter what the reason – we’ll take care of it, quickly, and at no additional charge when a strata has chosen a Gutter Maintenance Program.

    Does this mean we have less incentive to ‘do it right the first time’?  Absolutely not!  Every trip to a strata costs us in fuel and labour charges.  We don’t want to have to go back.  But we also want our customers resting assured that we will if necessary to take care of them.  That builds a stronger business relationship, and leads to approaching problem situations with a spirit of cooperation and understanding.

  2. Report Any Issues Discovered

This focuses primarily on providing information regarding the gutter system beyond our ability to address.  If there are areas that are off-slope and need to be adjusted, we can inform the strata.  We’re also looking for areas of heavy damage, areas which were not installed properly, or areas that are not functioning well due to overtaxing their capacity (may need another downspout installed, etc.)

This information can then be used if strata chooses to adjust their system so that its function is improved

So how can we afford to include all this extra work and service visits?

We charge a small amount more than for a regular gutter cleaning service, yet one additional service call could be $250-$475 at regular price.   We can afford to offer this to our customers because with such a large pool of customers each paying a bit more for the full maintenance plan, those who need it can benefit.  It’s like insurance; not everyone needs to use all of their service calls, and we can draw upon the pool to ensure our workers are paid for their time.  We also grow our business because our customers know we put them first, even if it may cost us a little.   That’s something very important to us; great customer relationships.

So if your strata’s haven’t considered a gutter cleaning maintenance program, they should take a look at the option.  It’s a solution to the real world issues faced during gutter cleaning to ensure that everyone wins.

Misaligned Gutters

Gutter Issues At Your Stratas

We find many examples of what causes leaking, overflowing, and plugged up gutters when performing gutter cleaning services around the GVRD. The majority of cases are what is most common; troughs clogged up with leaves. In some cases, because different species of tree shed their leaves at different times of the year, a spot clean was necessary. However, this first example below is what happens if a strata decides not to clean for a while.

Example Pics Series #1 – Why Gutters Should Be Cleaned Every Year.

Full Gutters At Strata

Example Pics Series #2 – Rusted Out Gutters

Rusted Gutters: something has eaten holes right through the metal of these gutter systems. Acid Rain? Aliens? What has caused this? The dripping water is obviously not related to the quality of the cleaning service.

Rusted Out Gutters

Example Pics Series #3 – Misalignment, Off-Slope, and Plugged Underground

At this strata, we found a variety of issues were troubling many spots. The pic on the top left has a misaligned downspout. Because of the structure built around below it, the downspout could not be realigned at the top and reconnected. We had no way to fix this issue, and whenever water runs through this part of the gutter system, it will leak out over the wall unless that wood is ripped out, the gutter fixed, and then the wall put back in properly. In the second pic with the red circle, water is bubbling up from underground. Because the downspout is behind a wall, we have no way to get into that area to try and unclog it. And in the 3rd pic on the bottom, the slope of this carport roof is so off, during a heavy rain the water flows over the corner rather than draining out the hole and down.

Misaligned Gutters

And last but not least – who has been throwing stones into the roof channel? Birds? Teenagers? How did these get up there?

Rocks in Roof Channel

Investigation into reoccurring gutter problems can reveal many things. We enjoy working together to identify the problem, solve those we can, and give recommendations in order to avoid the same headaches in the years ahead.


Overflowing Gutter Issues

“Why is this gutter still overflowing?  We repaired the caulking at the seams, repaired the downspout.  It (the gutter) has been cleaned, so why does it keep spilling over?”

This is a question we received from a property manager regarding a situation we’ve encountered often before.   The answer was confirmed on site by one of our gutter division technicians.

If gutters are not working correctly necessary repair may include reattaching damaged or disconnected downspouts or re-caulking leaky seams.  In the instance involved with this question, both items had been performed at this particular section of gutter, which was found to still be overflowing.  Then, investigation into additional factors occurred.

Bringing a hose up to the gutter and flooding it with water demonstrated the problem.

By doing this we ensure the downspout is draining properly by observing the water level, but it also demonstrates the angle at which the gutter is sitting.  This angle can be incorrectly set during installation, or can change as the building settles and shifts over time.  Watching the water level rise as the technician pumped it full of water showed that the gutter was sitting at the incorrect angle.  Water flowed to the end of the gutter that was capped, rather than to the end with the downspout.  Therefore, during heavy rain, the gutter would fill up and spill over rather than flow down and out the drain spout as it should.

My crude pictures demonstrate on a short length of gutter how the water always fills a vessel and yet remains level, regardless of the angle of the vessel (in this case gutter) in which it sits.   Take the example above of the second gutter above, and apply it to a long section of gutter, and you get something like this:

During heavy rainfall, water will accumulate faster than it can drain out, especially since the low end floods and fills first, only being allowed to drain once the water level rises high enough to start escaping through the downspout.

Solution: The gutter needs to be removed from the building, and reattached at the proper angle to allow the water to flow down and out through the downspout.

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