Your guttering is more important to the well-being of your home than you may think. By catching and directing water safely away from the roof, walls and foundation of your house, guttering extends the lifespan of your home and, when it comes to guttering maintenance, doing it right can help reduce large repair bills further down the line. Check out our five top tips on how to keep your guttering up to scratch:
Pick the right ladder and use it correctly
Using the right ladder is, literally, an essential part of the guttering maintenance process: it needs to be long enough to reach the guttering without stretching and steady. Keep your centre of gravity over the middle of the rung, don’t lean to the side, and make sure it’s set up on firm, flat ground. Any doors that you place your ladder in front of should be locked closed to stop potential accidents. Wear appropriate shoes, with gripped soles, and please don’t put sharp tools in your pockets or waistband, take a bag or tool belt with you that you can throw to the ground if you start wobbling.
Clearing blockages in gutters and downpipes
Remember to work away from the downpipe so that you’re not forcing debris down the pipe when completing your guttering maintenance. Use a trowel or cut a plastic bottle to size and scoop out all the leaves, moss and detritus that’s collected. Downpipes require slightly more conventional tools than an empty lemonade bottle, you’ll need to push any blockages down the pipe to the end (remember to cover any drains at the bottom first or you’re just switching one blocked pipe for another!). Extendable drainage rods or a ‘plumber’s snake’ are your best bet, and are available from most DIY stores, just unclip the plastic downpipes and clean out the blocked section. Blockages in cast iron pipes can freeze over the winter, causing the pipe to split as the metal expands around the debris, but don’t attempt to take remove cast iron guttering as the height and weight could cause problems for you, call a professional instead.
Checking your guttering
Both plastic and cast iron guttering will degrade over time, as will the rubber seal on joins, so whilst you’re up there completing your guttering maintenance, take the time to carefully check for cracks and holes. Any damaged length of guttering will need to be replaced with a new piece, simply cut your plastic guttering to size and attach with clips, rubber sealing gaskets and end sealing clips. Rotten seals and rubber gaskets can be replaced easily. Be aware that cast iron guttering will require a professional to replace due to the combination of weight and height.
Fixing sagging guttering
Sagging usually occurs because a) a fixing has come loose or b) there’s not enough fixings to hold the weight. Typically, guttering requires a bracket securing it to your house every one metre or less, but if you get heavy snow year in, year out, place those brackets every 75cm to offer additional support. Whilst checking your guttering for cracks and holes, check each of the brackets and their screws to ensure nothing has come loose, and make sure you replace any that need it, or add in any you feel are required where sagging is occurring.
Testing your guttering
Pay attention to sudden waterfalls in unusual places during a downpour is a good place to start, but clearing can also kick start your testing. As you clear each section of guttering, simply pour a bucket of water to ensure that the angle of your guttering is still pushing water away from your house and into the downpipe and that there are no holes or cracks that need fixing. Guttering is subtly angled to ensure that the water flows to the right place, if you’ve got standing water then you’ll need to adjust your guttering to get it moving, it’s a tricky process and we recommend you seek professional advice rather than undertaking this guttering maintenance yourself.
Guttering maintenance should be carried out annually, more often if you live close to trees (especially if they overhang your roof). A thorough check just before winter will ensure your guttering is able to withstand the coming weather, keeping you and your house safe from rot, mildew and other nasty problems. If you’d like professional advice on your guttering and live in the Watlington, Garsington and Stadhampton areas, why not drop us a line?