Maintaining your gutters may not be the most fun job in the world and, being high up, is unlikely to be at the front of your mind. At least it won’t be at the front of your mind until you start to have issues with them.
The biggest issue with gutters being blocked is that when the water can’t drain properly, you could suffer structural damage. Water damage can affect both the exterior and the interior, including walls, windows and doors. In extreme cases, this could also affect your foundations or cause flooding around your property and in basements.
A more minor issue, but an issue nonetheless is that is can also ruin the aesthetics of your property. It won’t look great having water overflowing from your gutters, spilling onto your property and leaving dirty streaks running down your façade. It’s much easier to stay on top of this issue and prevent it, rather than having to deal with it when it has already happened. Taking a proactive approach can save you time and money in the long run.
How do gutters get blocked?
Gutters can become blocked from moss, twigs, leaves and other materials, either from blowing in, falling from the roof or sometimes even from animals, such as a bird creating a nest. Birds can also knock moss from your roof into gutters, which can become particularly frustrating. The issue with moss is that it is likes damp places. With its absorbent properties, it can block gutters and pipes, which then makes it the perfect condition for more moss to grow, worsening the issue. In extreme cases this can become so heavy the gutters and drainpipes can become dislodged, especially during rainy conditions.
How to tell if your gutters are blocked
With the average gutters being nearly 20 feet up from the ground, it isn’t always easy to tell if they are blocked or not. There are some interesting solutions to get a visual on your gutters, such as a camera mounted on a pole, or even a drone, but there are several ways to tell from the ground too.
The most obvious sign of blocked gutters is if they are so blocked up you can actually see debris built up over the top. If you can see this from the ground, it could be a serious issue. Another visual sign is checking when it is raining. Next time there is a downpour, quickly pop outside and check to see if your gutters are overflowing at any point. You can also check after it has finished raining to see if there are any areas of your façade where water may have been running down. This could be indicated via darker streaks running down your walls.
However, the best way to closely inspect your gutters is to climb up a ladder and have a look, just be safe!
How often should you maintain your gutters?
You don’t want to be climbing up a ladder every day to make sure your gutter doesn’t get blocked up. No, but we do recommend cleaning out your gutters at least once a year. Should you live in an area with lots of trees, or an area that is prone to having moss build up on your roof, you may want to increase this to at least once every 2 years.
In fact, now is the perfect time, having just made it through Winter, as this is the period in which most problems arise with gutters getting blocked.
How to clean your gutters
There are tools to allow you to clean your gutters from the ground, but they can be tricky to use and it’s tough to see how effective these methods are without eyes on the task. The most effective way
is to get up the ladder with some heavy-duty gloves and start pulling out the moss, leaves and other debris that has made its way into your gutters. To fully clean them, a bucket of water and a brush/sponge can remove the remnants once you’ve cleared the major blockages.
The major concern here is for safety, so don’t overreach whilst on your ladder. If you’re starting to stretch, you’re much better off climbing down and moving the ladder, ensuring it is secure and not placed on a slippery surface. Depending on the type of ladder, it would also be a good idea to have a helping hand to hold the ladder and keep it steady.
Alternatively, if you are unable to clean your gutters in this way, or if you simply don’t want to bother with the fuss, you can always call an expert who can take of it for you!
How to know if gutters are blocked or damaged when buying a property
When buying a property, you may struggle to gain information regarding gutters, as this isn’t something people tend to discuss unless there are any obvious issues. To ensure you don’t run into any hidden problems, it is a good idea to have a building survey carried out on the property. Not only will a survey reveal this potential issue, there are also many, many more areas that are checked in some detail to ensure you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Whilst Munday + Cramer aren’t the go-to business for clearing out your gutters, we are experts in all kinds of buildings. From schools to offices to domestic properties, we pride ourselves on the breadth of our property knowledge and offering.
For information on Munday + Cramer’s home buyer’s surveys, or if you would like to find out more about our architectural and building surveying services, operating in Essex, London, Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk, then get in touch! Contact Munday + Cramer today on 01245 326 200.