In October or November, or whenever trees near your property appear to have finished dropping their leaves, it’s time to clean out your gutters and drain covers. Not the sort of job that anybody really looks forward to but a very important one for many reasons.
If guttering on your house becomes blocked, which inevitably it will if not cleaned regularly, all sorts of expensive problems can occur, including water running down the walls of your home, which results in damp in the walls but also unsightly staining of the exterior, or even worse, removal of plaster or rotting boards.
Furthermore, water running into the foundations of your house from leaking gutters and drains can cause even more serious problems if left unchecked, and this can include the erosion of the foundations which will eventually cause subsidence, which will manifest itself by cracks in the walls and a sinking house!
If using a ladder to clean out your gutters, take care and make sure it is safely secured. Don’t try to carry garbage bags or buckets up the ladder as this will distract you from your balance. Place a wheelbarrow at the bottom to throw rubbish into, or throw it on the floor and clean up after, it’s safer. Use a garden trowel to clean and old leaves and vegetation from the guttering and rinse it out using a hosepipe, making sure all the water runs away efficiently, including down the vertical drainpipes.
There are a few products on the market which claim to keep your gutters free of leaves, such as mesh covers which clip in place to stop leaves entering, but nature isn’t normally defeated that easily and if the leaves build up on the outside of the mesh, the end result will be the same as the rain water will most likely be diverted before it can get into the guttering, creating the same problem.
No, unfortunately, routine maintenance of your guttering is the only reliable method of prevention.
The same goes for the drains in your garden too. Although it’s not possible for most of us to check underground drains, it is possible to ensure any surface drains are kept free of obstructions such as leaves and rubbish, to remove the grilles every now and then to clean them, and more importantly, put a bucket of water down the drain to make sure it is draining away effectively. Underground drains are fairly large diameter do there should never be a problem with water draining away. If there is, it’s probably due to something more serious.
Underground drains in older properties can be made of ceramic/clay type material which after many years can break down and allow tree roots to enter. This is a fairly common cause of pipe failure and blockage in old properties, and if not put right can have the same effect as leaking gutters, only worse in most cases, eroding the foundations of your property and causing subsidence. If you notice a blocked drain it should be fixed as soon as possible.