Winter is coming – but is your house ready?

Today is National Gutters Day. Not the most glamorous date for your diary but it is an important one. We close this year’s National Maintenance Week with some top tips for taking care of your gutters, as well as the rest of your old home:

Our key suggestions to give a property a basic Maintenance ‘MOT’:
Water damage is the prime concern when it comes to maintenance. November is the time to start trouble-shooting because that’s when drains and gutters could become blocked by autumn leaf fall and debris like twigs and old bird nests.  If any of these obstruct the easy flow of water away from a building – damp and other serious problems can follow. It’s relatively easy to check and clear accessible sections of drain and guttering yourself.

Blocked gutter

Check the roof for damaged or slipped tiles. Even a relatively small gap can let in damaging amounts of water.  It’s much easier and cheaper to have a tile fixed than replace trusses rotted through years of neglect.  You can check your roof from the inside – looking for chinks of daylight in the attic. Outside, you might find that using a pair of binoculars helps you get a good clear view of potential problem points.

Slate Roof damage

Windows are another important area. If you really want to protect your investment then looking after your wood windows is vital.  It’s a good idea to wash down the paintwork. This not only prolongs the life of the finish, it gives a good opportunity to check for decay.

Vegetation growing on or near a house needs monitoring. It’s quite easy to check all growth against the building especially trees bushes and ivy. This should be removed, cut back or pruned carefully where necessary as these items growing on a wall can also cause dampness and structural damage.

Vegetation in gutter

Top 10 tips for National Maintenance Week 2015

– Look for blocked downpipes (best done during heavy rain to see water coming from any leaky joints – in dry weather look for stained brickwork).
– Check ground level gullies and drains to make sure they are clear of debris like leaves, twigs and even things like balls and toys – and have them cleaned out if necessary.
– Every autumn, clear any plants, leaves and silt from gutters, hopperheads, flat roofs and drainage channels. It’s a good idea to do this in spring too.
– Remove potentially damaging vegetation from behind downpipes by cutting back or removing the plant altogether
– Use a hand mirror to look behind rainwater pipes as splits and cracks in old cast iron and aluminium often occur here and are not easily noticed
– Fit bird/leaf guards to the tops of soil pipes and rainwater outlets to prevent blockages
– Have gutters refixed if they are sloping the wrong way or discharging water onto the wall
– If sections are beyond repair, make sure that replacements are made of the same material as the originals (on older houses, this is sometimes lead, but more usually cast iron)
– Regular painting of cast iron is essential to prevent rust – and keeps your property looking good!
Don’t – undertake routine maintenance work at high level unless you are accompanied and have suitable equipment.  If in doubt always seek help from a professional


Rusty rainwater goods

The SPAB runs a free technical advice line, open weekdays 9.30am – 12.30pm. Call 020 7456 0916 for impartial, expert advice.