It’s probably the case that most homeowners’ minds aren’t always in the gutter. But, now and again, perhaps they should be! Gutters are hugely important to a property’s structure as they allow rainwater to run safely and efficiently away – as many householders will have hopefully found during the recent storms, Ciara and Dennis. However, if your gutters and downpipes become blocked or split it can cause problems such as cracked render and stonework, internal leaks, damp and even subsidence.
Why your guttering might go wrong
The best way to avoid expensive repairs seems like common sense when you consider why gutters sometimes go wrong.
The main causes of problems include:
- A build-up of leaves, moss and twigs
- Dead animals getting wedged in downpipes
- Pipe and gutter joints that have come apart
- Split pipework
- Brackets and wall-attachments degrading over time
How to tell if you have gutter issues
Take a good look at your gutters. Watch out for:
- Water running down walls when it rains and overflowing the guttering.
- Water leaking and spurting from places where guttering and downpipes join.
- Gutters that sag due to the weight of debris build up, or fittings failing.
- Wonky downpipes which should be straight.
- Splits and cracks in the gutters and pipework.
Steps you can take to fix and unblock
Fixing gutters can be tricky and somewhat dangerous as it usually involves clambering up ladders while carrying tools, hoses and refuse bags. We would advise most householders to call in the professionals for all but the easiest of fixes. However, if you’re a keen DIYer who doesn’t mind heights, here’s how to try and unblock your guttering:
- Securely place a ladder up to your home’s gutters and, using a tool such as a garden trowel, scoop out any debris.
- Collect the debris either in a bag or bucket as you work your way along. Or let it drop to the ground and clear it up after.
- If your downpipes are blocked, push plumbing rods or long wires inside and try to dislodge the blockage. Then run water down using a hosepipe.
- If this doesn’t work, you’ll need to dismantle the problem pipes and gutters, clean them out, then re-fit them – for DIY experts only!
- Complete guttering replacement is a two-person job and most homeowners will need to hire the right tradesperson.
Keeping your gutters in good shape
You should try and clear out your gutters at least once a year. The best time is the early winter when trees have shed their leaves and before the weather gets too bad. After bad weather it’s a good idea to see if your guttering has been damaged – such as by heavy snowfall or high-winds. If there are overhanging trees, you might want to get them cut back. Also, think about having gutter guards fitted, especially if there’s a lot of foliage and trees in your own or neighbours’ gardens.
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* Policy Expert is rated the number 1 home insurance provider in the UK on independent review website – Reviewcentre.com. Based on 28,204 customer reviews and a 96% recommendation rating, January 2020.