How often do I clean my gutters?
This really depends on the roof tile and if you have a foliage around your house. If you have a large tree or two near your house an annual gutter clean is advisable. If there is dense vegitation around your house or building then twice a year is more advisable.
If you have a sand based tile through time the tile degrades and a light sand base builds up in the gutter ideal to promote growth; unfortunately.
My gutters are leaking, what’s the problem? How do I diagnose the problem with my gutters?
There are a few different reasons why a gutter will leak.
The most important thing is gutters have to be installed correctly and the run of the gutter (slant towards the downpipe) is right. Often gutters will be installed wrong and the water will run away from the down pipe, this will cause overflow where the gutter is at its lowest point or the gutter will begin to hold water and when the water reaches a certain depth it eventually flows down the downpipe.
Impact, sometimes a gutter can be hit by a ladder, van or some other object etc causing damage to the gutters.
If a gutter is overflowing near to or at a downpipe, then the downpipe is most likely blocked and will need cleaned out. The downpipe will usually block at two places either at the swan neck; the upper bend close to the roof or at ground level where the gutter runs into the drain.
By the sea, gutters are also more likely to build up vegetation, sand, strong winds, bird excreta carrying seeds and seeds carried in the wind cause frequent vegetation growth.
Who do I use to clean my gutters?
Use a reputable company.
Gutter cleaning companies can be checked to see if they are a registered company and pay VAT. Ask the business for their company number or VAT number. Check if the company or sole trader has Public Liability Insurance (PLI) this means that any damage to your property or objects on your property cars, greenhouses, conservatories etc are covered.
Using a local handyman, window cleaner etc can be cheaper, but make sure you have recourse with them if something goes wrong or if their is problems with their workmanship.
How long do gutters last?
UPVC gutters have a shelf life of around 25-35 years after this the rubber seals become porus and the plastic becomes brittle, so under weight of water and waste sometimes the gutter will crack or become weak and liable to being damaged more easily.
If the gutters are leaking in several places when it rains then sometimes this is signal for new gutters. Mastics and sealants can be used but with expansion and contraction of plastic gutters in the summer and winter and weight varying from rain fall etc, these temporary fixes only last a year or two on average.
Cast Iron gutters if originally installed correctly should last 100 years, repairing these gutters is quite a skill and can often require metal work and in some cases welding, hence most people have them removed and replaced with UPVC gutters which is a great shame. If Cast iron gutters are regularly cleaned and painted they can last for another 50 – 100 years at least.
When should I get my gutters cleaned?
Really you can have your gutters cleaned any time. During dry months gutters can be brushed out quite thoroughly and gutter mastics and sealants are easy to apply to joints. Winter months the gutters can have a lot of loose mud and water so a more thorough clean is difficult.
During winter months obviously with leafs falling and high rain fall it is also an obvious time. Leaks can also be observed when it’s raining. Leaks often leave water marks and gaps so can be seen in dry weather, cracks or withered seals are easily spotted in dry months too.
In short there are pros and cons at getting the gutters cleaned at any time of year, but as long as they are cleaned yearly at the same time they should be ok and PVC gutters are good for over 25 years.
Commercial gutters are usually best cleared during the dry months as the buildup of waste in the gutters can be quite substantial. This build up is easily removed when dried out as oppossed to when the material is water logged, dirty and heavy. gaps and faults with larger commercial gutters are easily noticeable and fixed during drier months.
However it is worth noting that commercial gutters that have not been cleared out for some time; in the winter months several tons of debris and water can build up in these larger gutters causing the gutters to warp and overflow, causing expensive repair work and often effecting production and delivery.
This is the same with School gutters which can cause classes, corridors and sections of the schools to close; same problems with hotels etc.
Ineffectual gutters can also cause water ingress, brickwork damage, damage to gardens, foundations and basements of buildings.
What methods of cleaning gutters is best?
The best method is by hand using brushes and sponges etc. Access to the gutter is usually via ladder or cherry picker. Gutter Vacs are largely ineffectual as they can not remove large clumps of grass or encrusted dirt in the summer months and unless fitted with a camera it is difficult to see if the gutter is Clear.
Also trying to operate the pole on three or four storey properties is very difficult. Often gutters can get knocked out of place with gutter vacs and then a ladder has to be found to go up and repair the gutter anyway.