Don’t let your gutters drain your cashflow!

Friday 24th November is National Gutters Day and a timely reminder to homeowners that by spending a few minutes cleaning and inspecting gutters this weekend could potentially save hundreds, if not thousands of pounds!

Cleaning out gutters is certainly not the most exciting job in terms of home maintenance, but it is one of the most important. Old, broken or sagging gutters can lead to water runoff which will pour off the roof and saturate the ground below, potentially seeping into foundations of homes and creating a breeding ground for mould and mildew. Poorly installed gutters can also lead to damage on exterior walls, causing unsightly streaking, or at the worst, damaged brickwork.

As well as checking gutters and downpipes, it is also just as important to remove any debris or blockages from drains. Blocked drains can lead to pooling of water on patios which, in the worst case scenario, can seep over damp courses and flood properties via patio doors.

“Buying a house is one of the biggest investments you will ever make and in order to protect that investment, home maintenance should be top of the agenda for every homeowner,” commented Denise O’Leary, Wavin Plastics. “Poor maintenance of critical components such as gutters and drains is a sure fire way of decreasing the value of properties and wasting hundreds of pounds on problems which, on the whole, can be avoided. Simple measures carried out at least twice a year on both gutters and drains will ensure that drainage systems perform year on year.”

Blockages

If gutters become blocked, unsightly water and rubbish will overflow, potentially causing expensive damage to brickwork and damp courses. Leaves, moss and other debris are the most common cause of these blockages but who knows what other surprises you could find up there!

The best thing to do is to scoop out the rubbish from the guttering by carefully using a trowel. There are even special gutter cleaning tools available in plastic that make sure the gutter is not damaged. Once the majority of the rubbish is removed, flush the guttering with water. If the down-pipe starts to fill, backing-up into the guttering, it is probably blocked and that is the next job! If there is a hopper in the downpipe, over flowing at the hopper will indicate a blockage below it.

Be careful when unblocking a downpipe. Pushing the rubbish down may compress it, making it even harder to remove. Try and free the blockage by using a piece of stiff wire to create a small hole working the wire back and forth, dislodged debris will be carried away by the flow of water. As it clears feed the hosepipe (with the water running) down the pipe. If all else fails the downpipe will have to be dismantled and the individual lengths cleared.

One way of preventing this happening is to fit a leaf guard – this will also make the clean up job much easier next year. Wavin Plastics OSMA Leaf Guard, which is available to fit OSMA RoundLine gutters, is a cost effective and simple way to prevent blockages.

Sagging

If there is a pool of water over 25mm deep along one length of the guttering, the section will need to be re-positioned to ensure the original gentle slope. Adding additional brackets and OSMA Gutter Bracket spacers as required – which fit with the complete range of OSMA Support brackets – will alleviate the problem and may help prevent the problem occurring in future.

Cracks

Cast iron and steel systems will need to be checked for signs of rust and cleaned back with a wire brush - any bare metal areas must be treated with rust killer. Rust killer can also be used to fill hairline cracks but deep cracks will need to be fixed with a piece of aluminium.

On the other hand, one of the major advantages of a plastic system is that if you find a crack, replacement sections are readily available and are cheap and easy to fit. Simply unclip the old piece, check the new section is the correct length and clip in. Plastic guttering is much lighter than metal guttering, maintenance is low and there is no need to paint it.

Upgrading

There has been a lot of publicity recently about the effects of climate change on the UK but few homeowners will have considered the potential impact on their guttering systems.

The UK’s climate is now characterised by long dry periods (rainfall in parts of southern England has been nearly a third below average for 23 consecutive months – Britain’s worst drought in nearly a century) interspersed with shorter but intense bursts of rainfall (Aug and Sept 06). Kent, one of the most parched counties in the UK had 186 per cent of average rainfall – nearly double the norm – in August. These shorter, heavier bursts of rain are resulting in large volumes of water over a short period of time, volumes which are potentially capable of overwhelming traditional guttering and drainage systems. This is where ‘next generation’ high capacity guttering plays its part. You can chose a larger diameter half round system – such as the OSMA SuperLine range, a deeper semi-elliptical profile, such as OSMA DeepLine or a high capacity Ogee profile.

To meet the demand for these high capacity installations, OSMA has launched a new High Capacity Ogee system. OSMA StormLine can handle the most intense storms, and has a number of key benefits. A high front edge on the gutter prevents rainwater run off from the roof over the edge of the gutter, which could possibly seep onto the walls of a property. Additional new design features include internal ribs that improve the flow of water under any residual leaves and debris and help prevent them sticking to the base of the gutter - reducing the chance of problematic blockages.

So next time you consider changing your guttering, think big and opt for a high capacity gutter system – and save yourself both time and money.

Wavin Plastics has a wide range of OSMA gutter profiles available, including a new high capacity profile OSMA StormLine. For more information call 01249 766600 or visit www.wavin.co.uk.

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