Gutters are an essential building element that’s often overlooked. These small troughs and pipes placed along the edge of the roof can be made of plastic, pressed steel or cast iron. It is their one and only job to collect rainwater coming off the roof and guiding it down the drain to divert it safely away from the property.
Checked and cleaned regularly, gutters play an important role in preserving the structural integrity of the building. However, if they become blocked or defective in any way, their performance is impaired, leading to potentially serious damage and costly repairs later on.
Faulty guttering can be the root cause of damage to woodwork or paintwork, roof defects (including soffits and fascias) and damp issues on exterior and interior walls. Moisture settling in the foundations of a property can cause untold long-term problems associated with mould, damp and even insect infestation.
How can you tell there’s a problem?
The top three visual signs and symptoms of gutters that are in urgent need of attention are:
1. Overflowing water
If rainwater overflows from the top of the gutters rather than draining into the downpipes, that’s a clear sign that there must be a blockage somewhere. Fallen leaves, moss and general debris may all be to blame for blocked gutters. In extreme cases of neglect, you may find vegetation sprouting upwards, birds’ nests or even dead animals being the source of the problem.
2. Sagging pipes
Sagging pipes may be the result of too much weight caused by debris or by standing water that cannot drain away, or by fixings that are not strong enough or are damaged in some way. Either way, the result may be that gutter pipes are visibly sagging in the middle, are coming away from the roof or have pulled apart altogether. Repair and possible replacement may be necessary.
3. Damp walls
Leaking gutter joints or overflowing water can be a serious issue and should be addressed immediately. Whether the problem is a blockage in the gutter pipes or general wear and tear, if water is seeping down the walls causing discoloration and dampness, it may be penetrating into the building fabric. This could lead to costly remedial works to both the outside and the inside of the building.
Gutter cleaning tips
At MC Property Maintenance, we handle high level gutter cleaning for any kind of commercial, industrial or residential building, and we highly recommend that you have your gutters cleared twice a year, particularly if there are trees in the vicinity of the building.
The best time for gutter clearing is during the autumn months of September to November when leaves are falling and before the colder weather arrives, and then again in spring (March, April, May). Gutters can be damaged by high winds and heavy snowfall, so double checking everything after a period of extreme weather is also advisable.
It may be worth thinking about fitting a gutter guard to prevent debris and leaves settling in gutters and downpipes. You will still need to carry out your twice annual clean as before, but this additional measure should stop any problems from escalating, particularly if the building is in a leafy area.
Carrying out gutter cleaning is not a difficult job as such; all you need is high pressure jetwashing equipment and a trained operative. However, getting safe access to a high-up roof can be a problem. At MC Property Maintenance, we have a large fleet of high access platforms, including self-drive, truck mounted, trailer mounted and narrow track spider lifts and cherry pickers that can make short work of even the most awkward high access requirements.