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Cleaning gutters and downpipes

Cleaning gutters and downpipes is good practice as overflows can cause damp to enter brickwork and damage the interior of your home.

The guttering system

Basic guttering systems have gutter channelling fixed to allow rainwater to drain towards outlets.  Gutters are connected to downpipes to pass water into a stormwater disposal system and guide water away from walls and footings.  If you have problems with overflow, always ensure downpipes and gutters are of a sufficient size and number to deal with the amounts of water that passes through them.

Stormwater disposal systems are soakwells or sumps of sufficient capacity (volume) to contain and/or disperse rainwater on the site.  In some instances, especially for small lots and in clay soil, there will be an overflow or silt pit connection into a council stormwater drain.

Causes of damp via gutters

  • Blockages in the gutter or downpipe
  • Leaks caused by rusty or damaged joints
  • Sagging gutter caused by overloading or faulty brackets.

Clearing a blocked gutter

Always work from the downpipe outlet towards the stop end - this prevents debris being pushed down the pipe.  You can use a garden trowel or a piece of wood, or cut a piece of hardboard or plywood to the shape of the gutter to create a smooth scraping action along the gutter.  Check the system is flowing adequately by pouring a bucket of water down - a good way of checking for leaks.  Consider painting metal gutters with a bitumen product or a hardwearing paint suitable for metal surfaces.  A couple of coats should prevent corrosion and the risk of leakage.

Clearing a blocked downpipe

Always check for blockages below a leak.  Place a bucket or tray under the downpipe to catch debris.  Clean the bent section of the downpipe and the shoe at the bottom with wire as both these locations can attract obstacles - an old wire coat hanger can be bent to suit this purpose.  The main part of the downpipe can be cleaned by feeding the garden hose through from the top.

Regular maintenance

If gutters and downpipes are checked regularly the guttering system will stay in good shape longer.  A little work occasionally can be enough to prevent major problems.

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