Gutters are certainly not the most glamorous part of your home, and they’re often overlooked when it comes to regular maintenance. Since our guttering systems are up high, it’s often a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’, and any problems forming can be missed until it’s too late.
Maintaining your gutters is essential to the health of your home, and a little care and attention can prevent much bigger problems forming down the line.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about repairing your gutters. We’ll examine the reasons why gutter maintenance is so important, the different types of guttering systems, how to decide whether to repair or replace your gutters as well as tips of gutter cleaning and general maintenance.
We’ve made it as easy as possible to find any information you need about when to repair your gutters below. Please see a list of different headings below!
- What are Gutters?
- Why is Good Gutter Repair So Important?
- Different Types of Gutters
- Common Gutter Repair Jobs
- Replacing Your Gutters
- Repair or Replace?
- Cleaning Your Gutters
- Gutter Maintenance Tips for the Winter Period
What are Gutters?
Let’s start with the basics. Gutters are channels that wrap around the edges of a roof, collecting rainwater to funnel it away from the house. Without gutters, all that rainfall on the structure can cause a whole host of unwanted issues, such as damp, mould, soil erosion, basement flooding, and damage to your home’s foundation.
Why is Good Gutter Repair So Important?
Without regular gutter repair and maintenance, small problems can build up into serious structural issues on the exterior and interior of your home. That simple half pipe is doing a heck of a lot in terms of protecting your property from rainwater.
Here are some examples of damage caused by faulty or blocked gutters in the home.
A build-up of water in your gutters means the edges of the roof’s surface are constantly wet. This causes the wooden frame and surface material to rot over time, which weakens the structure of the roof. Eventually, the roof’s surface and the wooden frame will need to be replaced, which involves a huge expense and upheaval.
Wood Fascia Damage
Most gutters are attached to a wood fascia board that runs around the base of the roof. A blocked gutter is a heavy gutter, and eventually, the attachments that hold the gutter to the fascia board will become loose and pull away due to the strain. Excess moisture also damages the wood and causes rotting. If either of these problems is left too long, it can result in water spilling into the house, damaging walls and ceilings.
Damage to Exterior Walls, Doors, Windows, and Decking
If your gutters and downspouts are not carrying the water properly away from your house, things like doors, windows, walls, and decking can become sodden and damaged. Wood is particularly prone to warping and rotting, and this can cause serious and irreversible structural issues which can ultimately be costly to repair.
Damage to Foundations
The foundations of your house are key to the structural integrity of the whole building. The foundation points at the base of your home are not designed to withstand constant runoff water and need to be protected by a good guttering system. Without this, they can become waterlogged, resulting in problems like cracking, shifting, and even sinking foundations.
A Flooded Basement
If you have a blocked or malfunctioning downspout, rainwater is not being directed where it should (ie. away from your home and into the drains). Instead, it can find its way into cracks and gaps in your cellar or basement and even pour directly in through your basement’s windows. This can lead to serious flooding and damage.
If your gutters aren’t functioning properly due to a blockage or repair issue, you’re more likely to have stagnant water building up in the gutters and other areas around your home. This can lead to a serious insect infestation; flies love to lay their eggs in water and these pools can also attract insects like ants, earwigs, and even cockroaches, as well as birds and squirrels. If you want to avoid developing a new ecosystem on your property, then it’s best to tackle your gutter problems before they get out of control.
A Flooded Garden Lawn
If your gutter system fails to properly divert water, it can easily end up being deposited onto your lawn instead. Although some rain is essential for your lawn’s health, a waterlogged lawn certainly isn’t, and it can take years for it to repair after serious flooding.
An excess of water can also drown any plants and trees in the surrounding area, as well as changing the structure of the soil so that it’s no longer able to support life. If you want to avoid your garden turning into a swamp, make sure your gutters are regularly cleaned and maintained.
Different Types of Gutters
Not all gutters are created equal. The type of guttering system you have will depend largely on the age and style of your house. Here are the most common types of gutters found on UK homes.
Cast iron gutters and downpipes are a more traditional style of guttering popular on older homes. Cast iron has an authentic look which ties in well on more traditional homes, and it also has an impressive 40-year life span if the guttering is properly maintained.
This material does come with some downsides though. Cast iron is the heaviest type of guttering on the market, and if it’s not properly installed, it can sag outwards and pull off weakened fascia boards. Cast iron is also prone to rust, so it needs to be periodically painted with protective paint to avoid irreparable damage. The best type of paint to use is bituminous paint, which provides protective seal stopping moisture from coming into contact with the metal and causing rust.
Cast iron is one of the most expensive types of guttering, but if it’s maintained in the right way, it can outlast other types of materials, and work out cheaper in the long run.
Another alternative guttering type popular on older and newer homes is cast aluminium, which has a similar look to traditional cast iron. Aluminium is often used to replace broken cast iron guttering on period homes as it blends in well with the style of architecture, and has many benefits compared with cast iron.
It’s a much lighter material, and so it won’t pull or snag on your fascia boards as cast iron can. It’s also rustproof and highly durable, so it’s a much lower maintenance choice; there’s no need to regularly coat aluminium guttering in bituminous paint.
One downside to aluminium guttering is the cost; it’s one of the more expensive guttering materials on the market, but, similar to cast iron, its high durability means it can work out cheaper in the long run. Its average lifespan is anywhere from 30 to 70 years.
PVC is the most common style of guttering on the market today. It’s found on the vast majority of newer houses and recent structures in the UK.
PVC is by far the cheapest option for guttering, and it has many benefits. It’s a lighter material, so it won’t damage fascia boards or pull out clip attachments. It’s also not prone to corrosion, so it doesn’t need to be painted or sealed before use, and the segments are easy to attach to a roof, making installation a quick and straightforward job.
There are some downsides of PVC guttering though; it’s prone to leaks, especially at the joints due to expansion and contraction throughout the four seasons. The plastic fittings that attach the gutter to the fascia board can also become brittle over time and need to be replaced relatively frequently. They also don’t suit every building; although they come in a wide variety of colours, the overall visual feel of plastic or PVC guttering doesn’t always blend well with older style or period properties.
The two most popular types of plastic guttering are ‘half-round’ which are curved, and ‘square line’ which is more of a boxed shape. PVC guttering has an average lifespan of around 10-25 years.
Glass Reinforced Polyester
Glass-reinforced polyester, or GRP, has many of the same benefits as PVC guttering but is designed and sprayed to replicate the texture and style of traditional cast iron guttering. GRP is a fraction of the price of cast iron guttering, but like PVC, it has a shorter life span.
Pressed steel gutters are relatively rare in the UK, but are still found occasionally on homes and commercial buildings. It’s a much lighter material than cast iron meaning it won’t pull at the fascia boards or clip attachments. It also usually comes galvanised and primed and can be painted to any colour to suit your home.
Pressed steel gutters have an average lifespan of 25 years, making them durable for a substantial amount of time.
Copper gutters are expensive, but have the longest lifespan of all guttering materials and can last as long as 150 years. Copper has such as long lifespan because it doesn’t rust and is resistant to corrosion, making it very durable to natural weather conditions. Copper forms a patina to protect it as it builds up. This blue/green patina is highly sought after by many homeowners, and while your copper gutters will eventually turn this shade on their own after years of oxygen exposure, there are products you can use to artificially patina them with oxidizing compounds within as little as 24 hours.
Copper gutters are a particularly popular choice in coastal areas, where other types of metal can rust or corrode quickly due to the ocean spray. Copper is also a popular guttering system for those who have their rainwater harvesting systems, as copper is a natural fungicide and algaecide.
Common Gutter Repair Jobs
A gutter that is sagging in one or more places can cause it to overflow and spill over the edge, and down the walls, during heavy downpours of rain.
Sagging gutters are usually caused by one of two things:
The screws and fixtures that hold the gutter’s supporting brackets can come loose through general wear, tear, and corrosion, especially on PVC based gutters. Often it’s a simple case of tightening these screws back up or replacing any corroded ones.
A faulty bracket
The brackets where the gutter sits can become damaged through rust and corrosion, or become brittle and snap in half. If your gutter is sagging, thoroughly check all brackets and replace them as necessary. You can pick up gutter brackets in varying sizes from most DIY stores. If you’re shopping for replacements, it’s a good idea to take an old gutter bracket with you to ensure you’re buying the correct size and shape.
The Slope of the Gutter
If your gutter has come loose or been installed incorrectly, it can affect the slope and the direction in which water flows. Use a spirit level to make sure that your gutters are all sloping towards the relevant downpipe and not away from it. If it’s sloping in the wrong direction, simply unscrew and reattach the brackets where they should be; with one at a higher position and the bracket closest to the downpipe at a lower position, to get the correct angle.
Top Tip: Sometimes it’s not necessary to change the position of the brackets. You can try lifting the higher end of the gutter slightly by using a small strip of metal between the bracket and the gutter to create the desired angle.
Cracked or Leaking PVC Gutters
PVC gutters are cheaper but have a notoriously shorter lifespan than gutters made from materials like cast iron, aluminium or pressed steel. Towards the end of their lifespan, they can develop cracks, leaks, and buckles which ultimately means they don’t function as they should.
To fully inspect your PVC guttering for these problems, simply squeeze the top edges of the gutter together so that it pops away from the clips and the bracket attaching it to the fascia board. It’s much easier to take stock of any problems with the gutter on the ground, rather than up a ladder, and you can examine it from every angle. It’s also much safer as you’ll be able to move around the gutter and hold it wherever you need without the risk of being high up a ladder.
You may find that the damage is too extensive to repair, and a full or partial replacement is needed, but sometimes it’s possible to get a little more out of the lifespan of your PVC gutters by doing some simple repair jobs. Mastic sealer or weatherproof caulk silicone is the best tool for the job. If possible, clamp the areas to be sealed together and leave for 24 hours before reattaching to the wall.
Rusted or Leaking Cast Iron Gutters
Cast iron gutters are much more durable and long-lasting than regular PVC gutters, but they can still corrode and cause leaks over time if they’re not properly maintained or they are coming to the end of their life span.
The best way to maintain them is to paint them regularly with specially designed primers and paints. Bituminous paint is the best product for the outsides of your cast iron gutters, while the inner areas should be primed with zinc chromate and left to dry thoroughly before applying a top layer of bituminous paint.
If the problem is a leak caused by the joints of the cast iron gutters, the first thing you need to do is unbolt the affected sections from the wall. If the bolts are too corroded or rusted to simply unscrew, you’ll need to carefully use a hacksaw and drill to fully remove them before discarding them.
Now, lever the two sections away from each other using a chisel, so that the edges are exposed. Gently chisel or sand away and previous sealant and corrosion from the join area. A wire brush is particularly useful for removing stubborn sealant.
Once the two sides are fully cleaned, attach the two sides tightly with new nuts and bolts. Use the bituminous paint to seal together, ideally on a sunny day when it will have plenty of time to dry. Leave this to dry for a few hours to make sure it’s fully set and ready to do the job.
Holes in Gutters
If there are a lot of holes, or they are very large, it may be time to replace this particular section of guttering. However, if the problem is only minor then you may wish to consider using a gutter repair kit, available at most DIY shops, to provide a temporary solution.
These kits come with a specially designed metal sticky tape which you can apply to the inside of the gutter over the problem area using a bitumen adhesive. For extra protection, slather a layer of bituminous paint over the top of the taped area and the surrounding area to provide more longevity.
Replacing Your Gutters
If your gutters are seriously damaged, they are likely beyond the point of repair and will need to be replaced.
We highly recommend calling in the professionals to guarantee you’ll get the best results, but if you are choosing to tackle the job yourself, then you’ll find a wide array of guttering at most of the larger DIY stores. PVC is the easiest type to get hold of, but aluminium, steel, and GRP guttering are also widely available.
If you are looking to hire a professional, please consider us here at Perfect Plumbing. We’ve got lots of experience in this area and we’ll be able to help you with all your requirements!
When replacing your guttering system, there are several things to bear in mind.
- Exercise extreme caution when removing your old guttering. If you’re removing cast iron guttering, this can be heavy and may require a second person to help take the weight. Also, take care not to damage the roof or fascia boards as you unscrew and pull the guttering away from the wall.
- Remember your new guttering will require a slope so that the water flows correctly into the downpipe. The lowest point which sits just above the downpipe should be around 3mm lower than the highest point.
- Always attach brackets at 1-meter intervals for the whole length of the guttering system. Any less and your gutters will be prone to sagging and splitting easily.
Always securely fix downpipes onto the wall, all the way down the length of the pipe.
Top tip: Replacing your guttering system is a great time to give your property a fresh lick of paint, and also carry out any maintenance on the edges of the roof which are usually covered by your gutters.
Should I Use a Professional?
When it comes to repairing or replacing your guttering system, if you’re not confident with DIY then it’s best to leave the job up to the professionals. Since it involves the use of high ladders, carrying out work on your gutters can be a dangerous task if it’s not carried out correctly. There’s also a risk of incorrect installation and insufficient repair jobs that can lead to severe property damage down the line.
By using a professional you can eliminate both risks to your health as well as to your home and your guttering. It’s important to keep yourself safe at all times, so if you don’t have the right equipment then it may be best to get the professionals in to do the job. If you’re not confident, then don’t risk getting something wrong! Let the professionals undertake the job and get you the results you’re after.
Here at Perfect Plumbers, we have a dedicated team of gutter repair and replacement engineers who are experienced in all of your water drainage needs. Give us a call today for further information about how we can help you with your project. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!
Repair or Replace?
This is a common question that many people ask themselves when faced with a guttering dilemma. If you’re not an expert, it can be hard to tell when your guttering simply needs a few DIY or professional repairs, and when it’s time for a whole new replacement. Here a few guidelines to help you make the right decision.
When to Repair Your Gutters:
You can most likely avoid the expense of a full gutter replacement when:
- The damage is localised. If there is only damage on one or two sections of your guttering, then you can simply replace these individual sections rather than removing and replacing your entire draining system.
- There a just a few small holes or cracks. If the majority of your guttering is in working order, but there are a few troublesome holes or cracks, these can be sealed using either a gutter repair kit or a quality sealant. Keep a close eye on your gutters during rainy weather to see if the repairs have been successful and keep an eye out for any new damage so you can nip it in the bud quickly.
- The hangers are loose. This is a simple job for a professional and pretty straightforward to carry out yourself if you’re competent with DIY. Tighten the loose hangers with a drill, and replace any screws that are broken or rusted. Check the hangers to make sure they’re not bent or cracked, and replace any that are.
- A single seam or joint is leaking. Make sure that both sides of the seam are securely bolted together and use a bitumen sealant to make it watertight.
- Minor issues on copper gutters. Copper gutters are pretty expensive, so it’s always worth trying to repair them yourself or enlisting the help of an expert from Perfect Plumbers before considering a full replacement.
When to Replace Your Gutters
Sometimes, the damage is just too extensive and the only option is a full gutter replacement.
Here are a few scenarios where it’s time for new gutters:
- There are numerous small cracks and holes. When your gutters are littered with small repairs to be made, then your best option may be to replace the whole system.
- Rotting or deteriorating fascia boards. Due to years of overexposure to moisture, fascia boards can rot, split and no longer hold the gutter hangers securely against the wall. Perfect Plumbers also offer fascia board repair and replacement services.
- Sections of the guttering system won’t stay together. If the problem persists, or if there is more than one gutter separation, then it can be easier to replace the entire guttering system before the inevitable leak causes damage to your home.
- Serious sagging. If your gutters sag and spill water over the sides, it’s almost certainly time for a full replacement.
- If your gutters are dented or buckling. This is especially common with aluminium gutters as they are more pliable than other types of material, but it can happen with any kind of guttering.
- bjects like falling tree limbs and ladders can dent and squash the gutter, and cause serious overflow problems. There’s no way to repair this, and the whole section will have to be replaced.
- Obvious water damage. If you have damp patches on your exterior or interior walls, your basement floods as a result of a leaky gutter, or you notice any other evidence of overflowing rainwater, then it’s time for a full replacement before the problem progresses further.
If you need a new guttering system, give the experts at Perfect Plumbers a call today. We’d love to talk through your requirements!
Cleaning Your Gutters
Since the classic gutter shape is an open halfpipe, one of the most common issues homeowners face is blockages caused by leaves and other debris. Blocked gutters force the water to build up and spill over the edges, running down exterior walls and causing permanent damage.
It’s because of this that it’s so important to make sure your gutters are free from blockages. The general advice is to do a thorough clean of your gutters once a year. The most common blockages found in gutters are dead leaves, that’s why the end of autumn and the start of winter, when the majority of the leaves are gone from the trees, is the perfect time to tackle the job.
The easiest way to give your gutters a thorough clean is to examine them first by safely climbing a ladder and doing a thorough inspection, so you know where the problem areas are.
Then, using a tool such as a trowel or a scraper, remove the debris gently so as not to damage the gutter or any attachments. It’s always best to wear gloves when clearing the gutters; although most debris is just leaves and seeds, sometimes rubbish and other foreign objects can make their way up there and you could be in for an unpleasant surprise without the right protective equipment.
Another great thing to do is to take a bucket up with you. This will help you to get anything out of your gutters and place it inside of the bucket, preventing it from landing elsewhere in your garden or on your property. It allows you to properly dispose of the obstruction in your gutter, helping you to remove the problem entirely.
You may even wish to install some gutter guards. These are mesh panels that sit on top of your gutters, allowing water to land inside your gutters but preventing anything from landing inside of them. This means that leaves and other objects will be blown away in the wind, rather than landing in your gutters. We’ll cover more on gutter guards further down in the article for you.
How to Clean Downpipes
Downpipes are less prone to blockages as they are a full pipe and not exposed to as many falling leaves and other debris. They can still get clogged, however, especially if the top of the gutter which meets the downpipe had a lot of debris and hadn’t been cleaned for some time.
The best way to tackle a blocked downpipe is to use a drainage rod, which you can pick up at most large DIY shops.
Using a ladder, climb to the top of the downpipe and simply insert the drainage rod and push out the blockage until it falls out the bottom of the pipe. You can use the help of a bucket of water for this task if the blockage is particularly stubborn; this should help to ‘flush out’ any stubborn debris.
Top Tip: To prevent your downpipes from getting clogged in the future, you can fashion a debris stopper at the top of your downpipe, where it meets the gutter. Simply roll chicken wire up into a ball, or use a wire balloon, and place it snugly inside the top. This will allow water to pass through, without bringing any leaves or debris down with it. It’s important to clean this debris-stopper pretty regularly though, as it will collect a lot of excess debris that would otherwise have gone down the pipe.
Get Help From the Professionals
Is the idea of doing a thorough clean of your gutters is too much to bear? Or perhaps you’re prepared to tackle the job, but your gutters are positioned in an awkward place or too high up, making accessing them impossible.
Luckily, professional help is on hand. As well as carrying out regular maintenance, repairs, and replacements, Perfect Plumbers also offers a full gutter cleaning service. Give us a call today for a free quote.
Gutter Maintenance Tips for the Winter Period
Keeping your gutters in tip-top shape is the best way to prevent serious problems down the line, and avoid expensive repairs and replacements.
We know that keeping your gutters clean, especially during the winter period, is one of the best ways to avoid unnecessary problems, but there are ways to make your annual gutter cleaning job easier and ensure that your gutters stay in full working order all year round, especially in the winter when you need them most.
- Remove leaves from the ground. Leaves left sitting on the ground can easily be picked up by the wind and deposited in your gutters, causing a blockage. They can also damage your lawn and invite pests, so it’s best to rake them up before they cause a problem.
- Fix your gutter problems before winter comes. Winter in the UK is usually the wettest of the four seasons, and it’s this time of year that you really want your gutters to stand up to the job. Make sure you don’t put off any minor repairs or you may end up with a major problem on your hands midway through a wet and wintery evening.
- Book an annual gutter maintenance and cleaning service. It makes sense to have your gutter maintenance issues looked at the same time as having them cleaned. The professionals at Perfect Plumbers will be able to fully examine your gutter system to identify any potential problems so that they can be repaired before they cause any serious problems. They can also fully clean out your gutter system so that you’re set up and ready for the winter season.
- Test downspouts. If your downspouts can be safely accessed with a ladder, conduct a ‘hosepipe test’ to check for any hidden clogs. Simply run the hosepipe into the top of the downspout and turn on the tap. If the water runs freely out the bottom of the pipe, you’re in the clear, if not, and you see an immediate backlog of water rushing from the top, or only a slow trickle out the bottom into the drains, then you know there’s a blockage. Call Perfect Plumbers for assistance or follow the steps in the ‘How to Clean Downspouts’ section of this article.
- Monitor the weather. Pay attention to the weather forecast to see if a particularly cold or wet spell is on the way. When pools of water resulting from a blocked gutter build up, they can freeze when the temperature drops, causing the gutters to expand. This expansion and contraction can cause irreparable damage to your gutters, forcing them to crack and bow.
- Consider Gutter Guards. Gutter guards are an extra measure to help protect your gutters from clogs and blockages. They work by providing a mesh or filter above the gutter to stop debris such as leaves, seeds, and moss falling in and causing a blockage. They can be helpful, and ease the burden of clearing your gutters regularly, but they are by no means a magic bullet. They still require regular maintenance to work properly, and some varieties are easier to unblock than others.
If you’re thinking about installing gutter guards, bear the following in mind:
Cut back any overhanging trees and branches. Leaves and seeds are some of the most common types of debris that will clog your gutters, and an excess amount from overhanging branches will render the gutter guards pretty useless.
Scrape the moss off the roof. Hire a professional to give your roof a thorough clean. Moss and other debris can easily be washed straight into your gutter during heavy rain and winds, and an overgrowth of moss on your gutter guard will render it useless.
Research different types of gutter guards. Read the reviews and choose a brand and style that’s easy to clean. Gutter guards should make your life easier, not give you more work to do.
Most experts agree that while gutter guards can reduce the frequency of gutter maintenance and unblocks, they don’t provide fool proof protection against clogs and blockages. You’ll still need to be prepared to do your annual gutter clean. With any luck, your gutter guards should make the task much easier.
Repairing and maintaining your gutters might not be the most exciting of household chores, but good gutter care means you can avoid serious damage to your home and enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that your structure is protected.
For all of your gutter repair, replacement and cleaning needs, contact Perfect Plumbers, we’ll be more than happy to assist you. We hope this information comes in helpful for you!