The rain this winter has been almost ceaseless, with rising waters finding their way up through drains, floorboards and cellars, as well as bursting through doorways and even windows. But increased rainfall means that homeowners should be looking up as well as down, as blocked or damaged guttering can be on the of the quickest ways of letting damp into your home.
It may be a simple, cheap and efficient way of making sure that the rain runs off your roof, but guttering or downpipes that are clogged with leaves or dirt can soon lead to sodden walls, split window frames and damaged paint or stucco work on your home’s exterior.
The most basic (and possibly most sensible) form of inspection that you can make is to run outdoors during a bout of heavy rain and see what your guttering is doing. If the rain is efficiently running through the gutters and the downpipe then you may be in luck. But look out for delays in the water exiting the downpipe into the drain or for water spilling over the top of guttering. These are surefire signs that you may have blockages or breaches in the guttering that will need dealing with.
You should also check joints in the guttering to see if water is making its way through them. Plastic guttering can work itself apart in heavy rainfall or winds and it can be a simple matter of reconnecting the pipes to maintain an effective drainage system.
The best way to maintain your guttering and drainage is to have a professional check it over once a year. Most builders should be able to do this for you, although roofers tend to do this work more than others. They always have the right ladders for the job and they can also combine giving your guttering the once-over with making sure that your roof is sound and watertight too. If you have metal guttering and downpipes then you may find that plumbers or guttering specialists may be more suited to the job, as they are constantly working with and mending joints on pipes.
In most cases your drainage system will be sound and just need a good clean with a stiff brush and possibly a power washer. Cracked or damaged pieces of guttering or pipe can usually be replaced inexpensively, although metal pipes will usually cost considerably more than their plastic counterparts. Your tradesman should be able to advise you on whether it is advisable to just replace all of your metal pipes once they have started to corrode.
When having your guttering checked over or repaired you can also use the opportunity to think about how an upgrade in your drainage to brighten up your home’s exterior. It seems a fairly unlikely call, but there are plenty of ways in which you can make downpipes or guttering part of a decorative feature, or even add water-saving devices for when the almost inevitable summer droughts arrive.
Different metals or finishes on guttering and downpipes can make your home stand out from the rest of street, while decorative ends can also be added to your downpipe where there is room. A clever plumber or a landscape gardener should even be able to have your rain water cascade dramatically into a water feature or irrigate plants. Of course you can also have the water drain into a single or series of water butts. Although you should be sure that these are set up so that any excess water drains away safely.