As with anything else around the home, you shouldn’t leave your gutters until the moment there is a problem. With falling leaves and debris in abundance, coupled with wet weather, it is a good time to check and clean your gutters now, not later.
Checking and cleaning gutters may not be your idea of a great weekend, but it doesn’t have to take long and doing it now can avoid any number of costly problems later including damp walls and water seeping into the home.
Aluminium Seamless gutter experts Bespoke Guttering have helped us compile the “perfect” list for checking and cleaning your gutters, you are going to need:
- Gutter clearing tool/plastic milk bottle with the bottom cut away;
- Emery cloth or wire hand brush;
- Roof and gutter sealant;
- Anti-rust metal primer;
- Gloss paint;
- Wire mesh gutter guard;
- Gutter repair tape or roof and gutter sealant.
1. Removing and preventing blockages
The first thing that should be taken care of for cleaning gutters is the removal of leaves, moss and other debris. A gutter clearing tool is specially designed for this but a plastic milk bottle with the bottom removed can be used as a scoop. Don’t forget to check the hopper heads while you are there (holders at the top of the downpipe). The most common cause of blockage as you would expect is leaves from trees. Once wet they can act like a sponge and quickly block gutters. More surprising things you can find blocking gutters include dead birds, balls, empty drink cans and empty crisp packets.
Should you find that the downpipe is blocked, you should cover the drain and then you can try running a hose up the drain pipe and turning it on. Wire mesh can be used to help prevent blockages in gutters. A word of caution, do not attempt to use a pressure sprayer to clean your gutters, this can do a lot more damage than good, its simply too powerful for this kind of thing.
2. Examine the stop ends
Once any blockages have been removed and the wire mesh is in place to help prevent further debris from building up, the next task is to replace any stop ends that are missing or damaged. Stop ends prevent rainwater running off the ends of guttering. You will often find the rubber water seal in stop ends has either come loose or perished. They are very cheap to replace, and you can find replacements in most local DIY stores.
Adding a bead of silicone when replacing will give that little added protection and security to the seals.
3. Secure loose downpipes
next thing that you need to be checking is loose bolts in clips that hold the downpipe in place. If any bolts are missing or loose, replace or tighten them as needed. If you have a brick faced property, then ensure that the ‘raw pug’ hasn’t come loose or need replacing. Ultimately it should not be able to move around in any way. If you have a wood faced or timber property, then the likely cause of the loose gutters is down to corroded nails or screw heads.
In this instance, it is best to replace them with galvanized screws and nails which will not deteriorate by weather or age.
4. Seal leaking joints
Joints should be cleaned with a brush and then apply gutter repair tape, in-fact the leaks have even been known to penetrate through mortar and windows and down to the carpets, and therefore needing the added expense of professional carpet cleaning if not treated. Next, you need to get some gutter repair tape, wrap round the joint and use the palm of your hand to press the tape firmly in place. Another tip is to always leave a bead of silicone within the joint.
This will give the benefit of added protection from the weather elements in addition to securing the joint in place.
5. Stop sagging guttering
Improperly positioned, or loose, brackets is going to cause your guttering to sag. When this happens, water in the guttering will pool rather than drain away. Once leaking joints have been addressed, you should replace or tighten the screws on loose brackets. Failing that, you may have to reposition them. Another attribute to sagging gutters are installation faults. For example, the lengths of the gutter were installed to long without adequate support/brackets. Brackets are also known in the trade as ‘hangers’ should be of no more than 36 inches, or three feet, apart on the center.
6. Fixing cast iron guttering
Cast iron gutters are usually fixed together by the way of bolts. These can be undone with a spanner, while gently tapping away any old putty. Clean the area with the wire brush and run a line of sealant into the joint. Once that is done, insert the new bolt and smooth the sealant using a gloved finger. This will avoid unnecessary mess caused by the sealant, and ensure a snug fit
Most repair work should only be needed to be done infrequently, depending on weather and wind conditions annually should be fine (before winter). When it comes to gutter clearing, then this should be done between 2 and 4 times a year depending on how close to the building trees happen to be. Also after heavy periods of wind or rain, which is the most common cause of damage caused to your roofline and guttering.