Cleaning Replacing Repairing Gutters & Downpipes
Rainwater goods play a key role in preserving the fabric of your home, but often as not are overlooked or neglected. We explain how making a few minor repairs can prevent considerable remedial work in the future.
In this article you can find advice on:
- Managing surface run off.
- Leaking and overflowing gutters.
- Leaking downpipes.
- Damp at lower levels.
- Gutter Repairs.
The fact remains that living in a damp climate means keeping rainwater at bay and is fundamentally important to maintaining the health of your property. If problems are ignored, outpourings from badly maintained pipes and gutters, or persistent small leaks, can ultimately result in extreme damp, fungal decay and even subsidence.
Fixing relatively minor defects in your properties rainwater goods system before they have a chance to wreak havoc, prevents the need for costly repairs further down the line. However, some tasks that might appear to be fairly simple at first glance – such as fixing gutter leaks – can sometimes be deceptively difficult.
Patch repairs using gutter sealant never last long, so where you’ve got a number of defects the best long-term solution may be complete replacement. However, the number of different manufacturers who produce guttering in a wide range of sizes, styles and colours, means one brand does not necessarily connect to another of the same nominal size and type.
Picking the right material is also important from an aesthetic viewpoint. By far the most common material used is uPVC; it is relatively inexpensive and has the benefit of being lightweight and non-corroding. The materials of choice for conservation officers are typically Cast Iron or cast aluminium. Modern stainless steel, zinc or extruded aluminium suit contemporary homes.
Managing Surface Run-Off:
If water is allowed to pond at the base of walls then it can, over time soak into the walls and eventually soften the ground, affecting the property's foundations. Channelling surface water well away from your property is of paramount importance.
Leaking and Over-Flowing Gutters
Internal or external walls will probably show signs of damp, be stained or become slimy, while white tide marks and perhaps green mould at joints may be evident too.
Puddles to the ground below are a possibility.
Inside, a damp smell may pervade and mould on interior plasterwork and/or blown plaster are signs.
The most likely cause is simply down to blocked gutters. Sometimes a blocked hopper or downpipe causes the water to back up and overflow.
Other causes include:
Poorly aligned gutters set to an insufficient fall.
Localised sagging or damage, there may not be a sufficient number of downpipes for gutters to efficiently discharge to.
With Cast Iron gutters, unless the inside surfaces are fully protected, water that does not drain away can lead to corrosion. Cast Iron gutters are screwed to Fascia Boards, where rust can make them prone to splitting — resulting in dampness at the top of the walls and rotting the eave timbers as a result.
uPVC gutters are jointed using rubberised gaskets which tend to perish over time, so it is not unusual for small leaks to develop at joints. uPVC is prone to expansion in hot weather, stresses can occur at brackets, joints and connectors and in time the rubber seals can degrade or become silted and start to drip.
uPVC guttering can also be prone to sagging or twisting due to either old age or a lack of support from broken or missing brackets. What is more, uPVC gutters can easily be damaged when ladders are leant up against them.
Water leakage is most serious where it can occur unseen, which is why gutters on Georgian and early Victorian roofs, which are hidden behind parapet walls, can be such a concern.