Why it is crucial to keep your guttering clean
Can you remember the last time you had your rainwater goods checked? Whilst the weather is still subjectively reasonable, it is the ideal time for you to take action to prevent one of the primary causes of penetrating damp, defective guttering.
Although out of sight for most, guttering plays a critical role in maintaining the structural integrity of your home and business premises and maintaining them is excellent way to avoid any costly repairs.
Guttering has one sole purpose and that is to take the rainwater away from your property and down to the drain. This is often devoid of consideration until something goes wrong and by the time it is noticed (usually from an issue emanating from within the property) not only do you have to contend with the damage but also the health-related issues.
The range of guttering is extensive from pressed steel, cement based (which can contain asbestos), plastic and cast iron, and they need to be cleaned at least once a year to keep them in optimum condition.
Causes of damaged and blocked outlets
Firstly, it is worth mentioning that clean gutters are less prone to damage than those which are blocked. In our experience the foremost issues when it comes to guttering is blockages to the guttering and downpipes, often caused by debris from the likes of fallen leaves and moss and germination from bird droppings.
The same goes for identifying defective joints which also attribute to a significant amount of damp patches in homes. As joints are subject to external conditions, they will over time through wear and tear expand and contract, rust, sag, etc. often observed by ‘weeping’ at the joints and more obvious distortion and misalignment to sections of guttering and downpipes.
The easiest way to tell if there are any issues is to go and have a peek, especially when it is raining. If there is any water running onto the side of your property, then it is likely that your guttering is defective.
The big fix
This could involve remaking and or resealing joints, re-fixing or replacing defective sections of guttering and or further investigations with CCTV for more complex issues.
The most practical solution is to call the specialists, plumbing and or roofing companies will often be the best option for obvious reasons, they will be able to advise on issue to hand and any ongoing maintenance considerations.
Otherwise, cleaning out gutters involve physically removing the blockage(s) and then washing through the guttering and downpipe to ensure that it is clean and free flowing.
For low level guttering such as those to garages or single storey extensions the DIY enthusiast may choose to tackle this. For those harder to reach places, professionals traditionally rely on ladders with unorthodox and restrictive access requiring scaffolding (which can be expensive). Fast forward to 2019 and much of this can now be done safely from the ground with hoover like machines called often referred too as ‘Sky Vac’. These have telescopic poles often fitted with CCTV so you can see the before and after.
Don't ignore and hope the issue will go away, it rarely does, and usually results in further damage to your property as exhibited in the photographs.
Unbeknown to the owner the blocked hopper and downpipe was causing rainwater to penetrate and saturate the brick work and internal finishes.
It is recommended that you clean your gutters once or so a year.
Now would be a good time (beginning of winter) as the leaves have dropped and the bad rainy weather has yet kick-in.
You can also install a gutter guard, which is essentially a barrier which filters debris from falling into the gutter and downpipes whilst still permitting rainwater to pass through – these will also need to be routinely cleaned but should prevent any large object from causing blockages as well as distorting joints and pipework.
Disclaimer: Please note this guide has been produced for general information purposes only.