The job of the gutter is to direct rainwater off of the roof to the drain, and if they become broken or clogged there can be extensive damage. It could lead to structural damage, which in turn can lead to damp, potentially causing health issues for the occupants. In order to avoid the need for future gutter repairs and keep them performing properly, they should be cleaned out annually at least.
What are the main problems?
The main issues are blockages in the downpipes or the gutter itself, often caused by debris such as moss, fallen leaves, and in some cases dead animals. It is relatively simple to check whether they need repairing; watch what happens to your gutters when it rains and keep an eye out for any water leaking out and running down the side of the building, if there is, it’s likely that the gutters will have a blockage. Leaking form the joints of the gutter is another relatively common problem, and can be a cause of any isolated damp in a house. A leak can occur through general wear and tear, or when debris is caught in the joints. If the gutter is sagging, that can also be an indicator of damage, as the debris will weigh it down along with any standing water. It’s also worth checking for any faulty brackets or rusty screws. By cleaning gutters out frequently, these problems can be highlighted, and anything that feels loose can be corrected before significant damage occurs.
Dealing with problems
The ideal way of dealing with blocked or damaged guttering, is to call in the professionals. They can give advice on anything from clearing the debris, to explaining how to repair the plastic gutter seams. They’ll need equipment such as a ladder, a long piece of stiff wire, thick gloves and a scooping tool. Gutters made from a synthetic material such as PVC should not be cleaned out using a metal scraping tool, as this can cause further damage and lead to more costly repairs in the future. Once a blockage is identified, large pieces of debris will be removed with the scoop. If the blockage is in the downpipe however, similar to how you would unblock a sink, a wire will be pushed down to create a hole in the middle of it. A hose is then used to run water through the hole, dislodging the blockage and removing it completely. Once your gutter is completely clear, check by running water through it for any other signs of weakness. Don’t leave small repairs for a later time, things will only get worse and ultimately more expensive to fix.
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to cover all eventualities, but scheduling regular guttering checks will certainly help. An ideal time to do a yearly check is right at the beginning of winter. You should give autumn’s leaves chance to have completed their fall but check everything before any really bad weather has chance to set in.
Make a note to do another check at the onset of Spring as the winds of winter may have meant that new debris has been deposited in your guttering. It’s also worth considering installing gutter guards, although they won’t stop all debris they will protect from any larger items that might cause dangerous blockages. It’s a particularly good idea if you have a number of trees in close proximity to your property.