With some parts of the world, including the UK, experiencing one of the wettest years on record, there has never been a more important time to assess whether or not your house guttering is capable of coping with heavy rainfall: not least as climate experts believe that the recent spate of erratic weather is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
With that in mind, this article will look at how to maintain your house guttering so that you don’t experience problems when the rain comes.
Before we do that, however, let’s quickly examine why it is important to keep gutters in a good working order.
If guttering cracks, breaks or becomes disconnected from a joint or wall, there is a good chance that, over time, any running water could cause long-term structural damage to your property. If that same running water, leak or drip then penetrates the brickwork or stone walls too, you could also end up with damp. And fixing damp problems can be extremely expensive. At the same time, dripping water can even become a health and safety issue as it leaks from broken guttering and spills onto paths that then become hazardously slippery or even icy in winter.
On a personal level, having recently had some guttering problems myself, I can also reveal that there is nothing quite as annoying as water slowly dripping from a broken gutter onto a roof (or in my case a uPVC conservatory roof) below. While not as serious as the other issues, it certainly doesn’t improve your quality of life. As a result, I would highly recommend maintaining your guttering. And this is what trained roofers suggest:
Check your gutters regularly It sounds obvious but the next time you experience heavy rainfall, pop outside and check to see if the water running off your roof and down your gutters and pipes is flowing down the drain correctly. If the water is smoothly disappearing down the hole, you’re probably OK. However, if it is overflowing somewhere, there could be a blockage in the gutter pipe causing the water to back up.
Locate the source of the problem If you have trees in your garden or you live in a house or flat adjacent to trees, the blockage could easily be the result of a build up of falling leaves. If you do not live near trees, it is more likely to be debris in the gutter that is causing problems. If you haven’t been maintaining your gutter this debris may have built up over time. It is worth noting that the impact of both problems could become worse in the winter months too as any backed up water may freeze. If it does freeze, your gutter may crack. And then you’re looking at bigger issues to deal with. Read more at Central Maryland Roofing
Rectify any problems If leaves are a major issue, but you cannot reach your gutters, try leaf guards. They are generally an effective method of preventing leaves from getting into the gutter. If water is dripping through a crack or a disconnected joint in your guttering, this problem needs to be rectified as soon as possible. (I know this to be true as this was the problem I was having). You may need to call a professional roofer or guttering specialist to solve this problem.
Clean your gutters Now we get to the business end of things. Having found the problem, located its source and fixed any major faults, it is time to maintain those gutters. Really, this boils down to the need to clean them. You can do it yourself, especially if you live in a bungalow and/or you own a ladder and are comfortable working at height. If you do decide to do the work yourself, here are a few handy tips to follow:
1. Wear protective gloves. Believe me, when clearing the debris or dirt from your gutter you don’t want to do it bare handed.
2. Unblock any blockages. If the downpipe is causing problems, borrow a drainage rod to clear it. If the pipe is angled, you could try manipulating a coat hanger or other piece of wire so that you can push the blockage out.
3. Replace Brackets. If you have sagging gutters there is a good chance it is because the brackets that hold them in place are either worn or the screws are loose. To fix this, either replace the brackets or tighten the screws until the gutter is level again. Don’t make it perfectly level though as the gutter needs to be at a slight angle so that the flow of water runs towards the downpipe.
4. Seal cracks. If you find small cracks in your gutters they can normally be repaired using a sealant or other type of strong adhesive. Most local roofing merchants will stock a wide variety that will repair plastic guttering.
5. Never over stretch when using a ladder. It might cost you a few minutes but you should always move the base of the ladder to the appropriate position rather than reach out. A few minutes effort is far better than several months in hospital following a fall.
6. Be regular. If you can, carry out this maintenance once a year. I would recommend doing it between Autumn and Winter.
7. Be prepared. Before you go up a ladder, please visit the HSE website for guidance on ensuring safety whilst working at height.
And that’s about it. It’s not complicated but it does take a bit of effort and you need to be happy working outside and at height. If this sounds a bit daunting and you would prefer that a professional undertake the work, contact a local roofline company, guttering specialist or roofer. Most reputable firms and individuals will provide a free survey and quote.
The purpose of this article is to emphasize the importance of maintaining your house gutters and provide tips on how to clean them so that you don’t suffer the same problems that I have had. I hope it helps.