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Gutter Maintenance: A Guide
In 2019 the Met Office announced that, although the UK is getting warmer, it’s also due to get even wetter. When it rains, the water hits your roof and flows down into your gutters and then down into the drain. If your gutters are blocked or damaged, water can flow onto the external walls and into the property. It has therefore never been more important to carry out gutter maintenance to prevent water ingress and damage to your property.
The best thing to do in any situation is prepare for the worst and nip problems in the bud before they arise. Inspections should be built into any property maintenance routine, and should be checked at least twice a year. You should also be mindful of other factors — if your property is within reach of trees, then you should check more regularly to ensure leaf fall hasn’t clogged your gutters.
How to clean guttering
Unless you live in a bungalow or ground floor flat, you’re going to be cleaning gutters at at least two storeys which means using a ladder. If you aren’t comfortable working at height, then you can call in gutter cleaning services who will carry out gutter maintenance on your behalf.
If you’re happy to go ahead, make sure your ladder has both feet placed on even firm ground such as a concrete driveway or stone patio. We know it can be tempting when your gutter urgently needs a clean to pitch your ladder on grass or a verge, but this will cause the ladder to be unstable and we do not recommend it. You should also invest in a ladder stay or stand-off so that you don’t have to lean onto the gutters themselves, which are often made of flexible material and therefore do not provide firm support.
A pair of waterproof gloves such as gardening gloves are also required, to protect your hands from dirty water, needles, bird excrement, and sharp leaves such as holly leaves. Lastly, a bucket and scoop to actually clear away the debris. If you don’t have a bucket you could try a plastic bag instead.
Remember that there’s more to the gutter than just the part you can see parallel to the eaves of the property. You should also check to make sure the downpipes aren’t blocked, as these areas can also accumulate debris. Leaf guards can be applied to these areas to help prevent blockages.
How to clean gutters from the ground
The easy way to clean gutters is from the ground. There are special hoses called gutter washers, which are essentially long poles with a hose sprayer attachment like a tap at one end. This angles over the gutter and allows you to direct a powerful jet of water through the gutter dislodging and washing away debris. However, commercial-grade gutter washers can cost in excess of £1000, and it isn’t as effective as cleaning the gutter out by hand, so if you don’t want to go up a ladder, you should call professional gutter cleaning services.
What is included in gutter cleaning?
In our opinion the best way to clean gutters is a mix of both methods in two phases. We would recommend a hands-on approach to begin with, using a ladder and bucket to manually remove the larger debris out of the gutter, starting with the largest objects such as birds nests and working down to leaves and twigs.
Once this has been accomplished, we would then use a hose. We find actually getting up on the ladder with the hose and watching what we are doing, washing away any small stones and other particulates, is the best way to ensure the gutters are completely clean. However, unlike with a gutter washer, this does require a certain amount of skill and familiarity with ladder work.
You can read more about our gutter cleaning services here.
What to look out for
It’s a great opportunity when cleaning your gutters to check to see if there are any structural problems with your gutters. If you have noticed that your gutters aren’t carrying the water away from your property correctly, it may be that it isn’t just a matter of the gutter being full of debris.
Damaged gutters lose their ability to remove rainwater effectively. There are a few things you should look out for that mean you may actually need gutter repair:
- Leaky joints — when joints fail, debris gets between the joints and forces them apart over time, leading to cracks. These cracks then cause leaks, damaging your property.
- Rust — rust can be evidence that corrosion has occurred and the gutter has been damaged.
- Insufficient outlets — we’re experiencing higher levels of rainfall now than 50 years ago, and that means that older guttering may need to increase the capacity of its existing outlets.
The good news is that if you do observe any of the above, a gutter repair service should be able to provide you with assistance. For example, it can be possible to apply silicone to leaking joints.
As we said above, you need to be confident of the stability of your ladder if you are going to attempt to gutterclean and repair yourself. You should only ever work on firm ground, with a ladder to stay in place, and preferably with someone else there to observe and assist. Also, don’t be tempted to overreach and only work in a small area at a time.
If you do spot any damage to your gutters, don’t worry, it doesn’t always mean that your gutter needs replacing. A popular method of stopping leaks is to reline your gutter with a waterproof lining. We can reline your gutters as part of our gutter maintenance and gutter repair services.