Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Gutter Sense: The $20 product that saved me $100+

It's been a wild few months weather-wise here in Massachusetts but then again- what's new?  Spring floods gave way to dry mid-summer conditions that had the town of Wellesley strongly discouraging outdoor watering. 
As I've been working in my home office the past few weeks I'd occasionally hear a "drip drip drip" outside and wonder- what the heck is that?  After some research it appeared it was coming from a clogged gutter that was occasionally bypassing when the air conditioner was releasing condensation.  It was a little annoying to be acoustically reminded of a home maintenance issue so I put off fixing the issue as long as I could.  But after a while it got to me and I decided I could call up our regular gutter cleaning guys, bust out a ladder (and risk busting my leg as I fell off said ladder) -or- come up with something more crafty.

What I felt I needed was a long pole with a hook on it to clear the obstruction.  This was the second time we've had a backed up gutter and it always amazes me how just a few leaves can so completely shut down the flow through a downspout.  We just had new gutters installed when we remodeled a few years ago and the cost of installing gutter guards of some sort was almost double what we paid so I feel like I've got $1,000 in the gutter bank so to speak (and hey who is to say the gutter guards won't require maintenance of their own right?).

So I did some Google searches, found the Gutter Sense and read this review.  I had my doubts as to whether the thing would work well for cleaning out all the gutters but both times they got truly clogged it was just a single focused obstruction that needed to be addressed.  It wasn't as if every leaf needed to be removed- just a single clump of leaves at the point where the gutter meets the downspout.

I ordered my Gutter Sense late last week and I was excited when it arrived today.  In the basic $20 model, the Gutter Sense doesn't include a pole or extra rope for 2-story situations.  I was prepared for this after reading reviews and product descriptions on Amazon.

I did some cursory measuring prior to the device arriving to determing how long of an extension pole I'd need and for my situation about 18' seemed about right.  I went over to Green's Hardware in town and unfortunately the longest they had was 12'.  So I went over to Home Depot in Natick and got a 6'-18' extension pole.  I also picked up some twine because the Gutter Sense didn't have enough to cover situations much longer than 12' away.

I boogied home to beat the impending nightfall and drizzling rain to try my new setup.  The Gutter Sense screwed on to the extension pole with ease, and I tied the new twine to extend the control arm of the device.  I extended the pole and I was ready to attack the obstruction.

I'll be the first to tell you: I am not a handy guy.  I regularly cause more damage by trying to fix things than the pros would charge in the first place and I'd be better off if I just called the them straight away.  But I was determined in this case because it's starting to feel like a regular occurance.

I'm pleased to report that within 10 seconds me and my trusty Gutter Sense freed the obstruction and water and muck began gushing through the downspout in a glorious display.  It was really pretty amazing.

I have to say- I can't imagine cleaning every leaf out of the gutters with the device.  For one there's a bunch of hangers that you grab onto with the device and you try to tug them out unsuccessfully.  One review I read on Amazon suggested a mirror so you could see what you were doing.  That might make sense for larger jobs but for me I'm happy to just be able to remove obstructions without having to pay $100 to call out the Gutter Boys.

When used in this context I highly recommend the Gutter Sense.  It was a joy to use and I'll look forward to busting it out again.
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