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Get your mind in the gutter

Mon 12th Apr 2021

Having well-kept gutters can prevent property damage.
Having well-kept gutters can prevent property damage.

No matter where you live in Australia, April is one of two months of the year that residents should put in their calendars to get their gutters checked. Those in the south are bracing for the onset of rain, with Anzac Day a traditional marker of the "break in the season", so they need to be ready for their gutters to get a workout. Those in the north are emerging from their wet season, so repairing damage will put them in good stead for the year ahead and ensure gutters are safe well before next season hits.

A visual inspection is an easy first task to check for leaves and other gunk that may have blown into gutters and downpipes and blocked them, preventing rainfall from flowing freely away. Overflows outwards are bad enough, but the water can also flow into the roof, which can cause serious damage. The Victorian Building Authority reports trapped wet leaves that sit in guttering can also cause surface damage and corrosion, so it is best to remove them sooner rather than later. If you are safely able to do so yourself, debris can be scooped out using a garden trowel, and people are urged to do so from a ladder leading up to the gutters, rather than standing on the roof and working downward, for safety reasons.

If the amount of debris stuck in the gutters seems excessive or difficult to reach, it may be worth calling a professional to check if it is compliant. The VBA says non-compliant roof plumbing is the leading cause of complaints people make about plumbing at their property, with poor workmanship relating to roof plumbing accounting for 40 per cent of all complaints. They also say non-compliant roof plumbing has an increased risk of leaves and debris getting stuck in gutters and downpipes.

It's worth calling in a professional to get the job done.
It's worth calling in a professional to get the job done.

Once most of the debris is cleared, flush the gutters with water. This not only can help remove dirt that cannot be collected using the trowel, but will identify any leaks that can make the guttering ineffective. Minor leaks may be able to be fixed by using a silicon sealant, but major leaks may require repair by a guttering professional. When gutters are cleaner, it is easier to spot rust that may be forming. Small amounts may be brushed away with a wire brush or sandpaper and the metal painted over.

Residents also should check drainage points on the property to ensure water is not blocked long after it has flowed through the gutters. The NSW State Emergency Service says many residents use pot plants to hide drainage grates, but these should be moved to help enable water to move away from the property.

All guttering naturally deteriorates and will need to be completely replaced eventually, so an annual inspection also can be a reminder to think about how long they have been installed. Typically they will need replacing about every 20 years, but with regular care and maintenance, may last longer.

Get your gutters in order with a qualified, professional tradie, found at Buy Search Sell.

By Cara Jenkin