Neglected Gutters - The Domino Effect

Let's face it; guttering isn't the easiest thing keep clean. Unless you live in a bungalow, it involves scaling a ladder with a cloth and a bucket, a task that in truth not many people would relish. But in every area there are reputable tradesman who will undertake this job for you, giving you peace of mind and keeping your property looking good with the rainwater flowing safely down the drains. We suggest that you have your guttering cleaned at least once a year, twice a year if you leave in an area where trees are prevalent. Gutters that aren't maintained will not only look scruffy, they will start to affect the rest of the house structure in a fairly short period of time. Here's a timeline of what could happen if gutter maintenance is ignored.

3-6 Months

Leaves, moss, seeds and dirt particles from the roof will start to build up in the bottom of the gutter. This can be easily removed by hand or with a small trowel at this stage as it is still relatively loose.

TIP - Fitting a leaf guard such as Gutter Brush will reduce this effect. Gutter Brush is a long length of nylon brush with many small filaments fixed to a stainless steel core. It sits inside the body of the gutter, invisible from the ground and stops leaves from entering gutter channel. Rainwater runs between the nylon filaments and flows away as normal. Leaves that are caught up in the brush are blown off by the wind.

In an unprotected gutter system, some dirt and sediment particles are swept into the rainwater pipe by the flow of water each time it rains. Some of these particles will be caught in the swan neck, and some in the bend or gully situated at the foot of the pipe. TIP- Fitting an outlet guard into the top of the outlet will drastically reduce this effect and make future cleaning easier - highly recommended for all installations and crucial if your property is near pine trees, as pine needles are the worst culprits when it comes to gutter blockages.

6-12 Months

Any build up of matter in the gutter will start to stagnate, as water will be trapped. Gutters may well overflow during heavy rainfall. Plant matter will start to grow from trapped seeds in the gutter, and may become visible. A light coating of dirt will build up on the external visible face of the guttering.

1-3 years

Rainwater flow will start to be seriously compromised by the blockages. The blocked gutters will overflow regularly, affecting any timber fascia and soffit boards. Staining may well occur on brickwork and hard landscaped surfaces directly below the gutter. Sarking felt (the course of felt at the bottom of the roof which is dressed down inside the gutter) will become waterlogged and water will be drawn back up to the roof timbers by capillary action. Downpipes are at serious risk of blockages from large chunks of matter that will be being washed down inside them. The appearance of the gutter will become dull and matt. TIP- The appearance of the gutter can generally still be restored within this timeframe by cleaning with a specialist PVC Cream Cleaner.

3-5 years

The regularly overflowing gutters will have begun to affect the brickwork directly below them, and possibly the foundations of the structure. It is very likely that the integrity of the rainwater pipe will have been affected, reducing the flow of water into the surface water drain and causing leaks at the foot of the pipe and possibly around the swan neck. This may be visibly evidenced externally and by damp conditions on the inner walls of the building at the foot of rainwater pipes. The Sarking felt will likely have rotted completely, causing water to flow behind the gutters and affecting the eaves structure.

TIP – Act now to avoid costly repairs. Clear the gutters inside and out and test the downpipes for visible leaks. Fit a gutter protection system. Inspect the sarking felt and any timbers at the eaves, and replace if necessary. Repair any brickwork or faulty pointing caused by water saturation.

Faulty gutters left unchecked for any longer than this will cause structural defects in the foundations, the brickwork and the roof which will involve serious remediation work. Why take the risk? Acting now to maintain and protect your gutters will keep the rainwater flowing where it should, your gutters will look glossy and new and the whole system will last for many years to come.

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