Keep your guttering and pipe-work running smoothly with this handy gutter protection guide to preventing as much damage as possible.
Having good drainage and guttering in tip-top condition is of paramount importance if you are to keep your home protected from potential flooding and water damage; in fact, any kind of crack or gap in your down-pipes or plastic guttering cases can lead to all sorts of problems, from just a small leak in the roof of your home to the onset of mould or mildew or even the permanent establishment of rising damp within the masonry work itself. But what kind of problems do you need to identify within your guttering before things get that far? And how can you keep the pipe work protected for as long as possible without spending too much on maintenance and repairs?
Common Guttering and Drainage Problems
There are a number of common problems that occur with exterior guttering and drainage, especially in somewhere as wet and windy as the UK, where adverse weather conditions are usually the primary cause of a particular issue. Problems you should look-out for include:
- Blockages of water flow, usually caused by landing debris such as dirt, stones, small twigs and branches or a build-up of leaves, seeds and/or garden vegetation.
- Water erosion to the pipe casing, especially if you live in an older property that hasn’t upgraded to plastic down-pipes and guttering mechanisms.
- Leaks and drips, either from the plastic casings themselves (located on the exterior of the property) or from within the confines of your home, either from the ceiling or running down the walls.
- The onset of black mould or water marks in the corners of your interior rooms, especially on the top floor or in the attic area; these can be an indicator of exterior flooding that you might not yet know about.
- Cracks, gaps, sagging or warping in the plastic casing in your guttering, again likely to be caused by the expansion and contraction of the pipes between extreme and unexpected changes in temperature.
- Any signs of rust, nails or screws sticking out or becoming loose, or any other wear-and-tear to the guttering that might prove an early warning sign for potential flooding or blockages.
Top Tips for Gutter Protection
To keep your guttering and down pipes in peak condition for longer, these are just some of the things you can do before having to hire out a professional plumber or engineer:
- If you have just moved into a new property, make sure the guttering is made of a strong, durable plastic that will last for at least a few winters. If it seems a bit light or uneven, you can always try and get the guttering replaced by talking to a professional plumber or guttering company; if that proves too expensive, then there a number of plastic varnishes or resins you can coat it with to add temporary support – at least until you can afford to replace all the plastic casings that need upgrading.
- Install a new gutter guard to help prevent blockages and the build-up of garden vegetation. These guards are usually designed as wire meshes or bottle brushes that basically act as a kind of strainer for leaves, twigs and other debris that falls onto the roof either from overhanging trees and shrubs or passing animals. You can find ones from most retailers to fit almost any kind of guttering or pipe-casings; plus for a basic model they can cost as little as £10 per casing!
- Cut down any overhanging trees or shrubbery that might be putting your guttering at risk. This doesn’t mean you have to tear down any of your favourite garden plants; just prune them back regularly and to a suitable distance away from your roof and the guttering so the down pipes and plastic casing isn’t at risk from any falling debris during windy weather! If the shrubbery is particularly tall or cumbersome, you might want to look into hiring a tree surgeon.
- Finally – and it sounds obvious – but make sure you check your guttering as regularly as possible. This usually means around once a fortnight, but if you have had a recent storm or spell of bad weather you really should check the guttering as soon as the skies have cleared; you never know how bad the damage might be, and it is always good to get a handle on it as soon as possible – before things get even worse.