WHAT IS THE IROBOT LOOJ M330?
Winter is upon us, your gutters are full of leaves and muck, and your enthusiasm for climbing up and down a ladder all day with a bucket and wearing rubber gloves is not high. You need the Looj M330, a dedicated gutter cleaning gadget from the company that brought us the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner, iRobot.
It’s robust, waterproof, rechargeable and fitted with caterpillar tracks and a spinning auger that make it look like the weapon of choice for a Bond villain. If you have straight gutters with plenty of clearance below the tile edge it works remarkably well, as long as you can live with the resulting debris spread all over your garden.
IROBOT LOOJ M330 – DESIGN AND FEATURES
Think of a remote-control tank fitted with a spinning brush to eject debris from your gutters and you won’t be far wrong. The Looj’s main body is long and narrow, and the rubber tracks allow it to move along your gutters upright, upside down or even on its side. The latter two are useful if it meets some stiff debris as it will turn itself over and automatically reverse.
The business end has a nose cone with rubber scraper to loosen dried-on debris and a power take-off axel. To this you attach the auger. This comprises long bristles and interchangeable standard length or compact rubber blades. The whole auger assembly spins at 500 rpm in either direction to best scrub your gutters clean and flick the leaves and muck out.
The detachable handle allows the Looj to be carried and placed in the gutter easily. The handle quickly unclips to become the remote control. We had success using the remote control with fresh batteries at up to nearly a 20-metre range, so the Looj won’t get away from you unless you have very long gutters. If it does, when it reaches the end it tends to flip over and reverse back along the gutter anyway.
As a remote control, the handle section gives you the options of forward, reverse and an automatic Clean mode, plus clockwise, anticlockwise and off for the auger. A supplied belt clip for the handle is very handy when you are climbing up and down ladders, and at the end of the clean it allows you to pick up the Looj without getting too mucky yourself.
If, like ours, your gutters are very muddy, clipping in the handle might not be possible due to the sheer amount of debris and grit on the body. Thankfully, the main unit can be hosed off after use and be allowed to dry before putting it away.
The package comes complete with a freestanding charger, 3000mAh 7.2Volt battery and a handy belt clip for the handle/remote control. The battery lasted well over an hour in our tests but as it will clear gutters at a rate of 10 metres in 5 minutes or so, which is a whole lot of gutter cleaning on a single charge.
The idea is that you only need to nip up the ladder to place the Looj in the gutter. You let it do its job, and collect it from the same spot when it has been up and down the gutter run. Those runs must be straight as it doesn’t go around corners. Even if you have to place it on a couple of different lengths of gutter on each side of the house, that is still a whole lot less ladder climbing than traditional manual gutter cleaning.
IROBOT LOOJ M330 – WHAT IS IT LIKE TO USE?
Messy. Very, very messy. Stand well back or wear protective clothing because when the Looj gets on its mission with typical UK gutter debris, the mulch and debris flies!
We hadn’t cleared the gutters all year and they were full of leaves resting on top of a thick layer of very wet mud and moss. Placing the unit in the thick of the muck and pressing ‘Auto’ without stepping back was probably our first mistake. In the first test, me, the ladder, the shallow roof, the camera, two inquisitive dogs and the ground below the gutter got a good covering of muck, mud and leaves.
The very shallow roof of our first area took plenty of the ejected debris, no doubt likely to be washed straight back into the gutter with the next rainfall. Yet subsequent trails on steeper roof angles and where tiles overhung the gutter further (typical of most UK house builds) showed that very little of the debris ended up on the roof. Moreover, after all the drama and mess, the gutter was always left spectacularly clean.
In use the Looj moves forward slowly but with purpose. The powerful auger doesn’t shirk at heavy mud, leaves stacked well above the gutter line or moss lumps the size of tennis balls. All get summarily ejected at high speed. The only item of normal debris the Looj baulked at was a fallen branch. Even then it did have a good attempt at dislodging that too. Eventually it flipped itself over and reversed away before we sent it back in for another try.
Having cleared one run of low gutter (as it was easiest to photograph) we moved to the main bungalow. The low eaves height made it easy to place the Looj using just step ladders, but we immediately came across a problem.
At one end of this building the gutter is placed very high on the fascia board so the roof tiles hang deep into the gutter’s ‘U’ shape. This didn’t offer enough clearance for the Looj to work and it immediately jammed and stopped. Due to the run-off angle on the gutter, the clearance widens as you move along but this meant the Looj was only able to clean about two thirds of our gutters on both sides of the house. Your mileage may vary but if your edge tiles reach deep into the gutter, the Looj will have issues.
Our only other gripe against what is an otherwise very effective cleaning gadget is the sheer mess it creates. That 500rpm auger punches everything out of the gutter at speed and the fallout at ground level, particularly from taller buildings, is quite spectacular. Arguably, if you had a gutter cleaning robot you could use it several times a year to reduce the amount of muddy-detritus that would build up and subsequently be thrown out.
SHOULD I BUY THE IROBOT LOOJ M330?
If you have mostly straight gutters with plenty of clearance above, the iRobot Looj M330 is a very effective gutter cleaner than significantly reduces the number of times you are going to have to scale a ladder. It scrubs much cleaner that you are likely to do by hand, stops at nothing bar fallen branches and the remote control ensures it should never get beyond reach. That debris has to go somewhere, however, and that is a wide area of fallout on the ground below.
For the right gutters and with room for some mess below, the Looj M330 is an easy and highly effective way to clean your gutters.