As any diligent property owner knows, there is always a long list of jobs to do around the place, from cutting the grass to fixing a broken fence. But whilst many of the tasks on your “to-do” list are purely cosmetic, some are important because they prevent small irritations from turning into major problems. Blocked gutters are one such example.
A blocked gutter or downspout is very annoying. When it rains heavily, water collects and eventually cascades over the side, splashing down the walls and collecting in large puddles on the ground. In the short term this won’t cause too much damage, but if you don’t deal with the problem a blocked gutter and downspout will lead to leaks and damp. Fortunately it isn’t too difficult to solve the problem as long as you have a few handy tools.
Where’s the Blockage?
Most downspouts are located on the corner of a building, so this is a good place to begin. To start with, you need to check the guttering above the blockage to remove any build up of leaves, twigs, moss and weeds. If you don’t do this, you run the risk of making the blockage in the downspout worse.
Working at Height Safely
Since guttering is rarely at chest height, a set of ladders is essential. Always secure your ladders before climbing up to clear the blockage and if you have a substantial section of guttering to check, or it is above a safe working height, hire a scissor lift or cherry picker (click here for examples). This will enable you to access the affected area safely. You will also need a container to collect debris and some gloves to protect your hands.
Scoop Out Large Debris
Be methodical about clearing debris from the gutter. Start at the end and work your way along, clearing stones, leaves and anything else you find. Organic waste can be disposed of on a compost heap, but everything else will need to be thrown in the dustbin. Once you have cleared as much as possible by hand, use a hosepipe to wash the rest away.
Clear the Blockage
Minor blockages in a downspout are usually caused by a build up of leaves or small stones. These can often be shifted with a strong jet of water from a hosepipe. Fire water down from the top to dislodge any clogs and then repeat from the bottom. If this method doesn’t work, feed a plumber’s snake down the pipe to loosen up trapped debris so you can flush it out.
Check your downspout for cracks once the blockage has been cleared, and replace if necessary.
Fit Gutter Guards
The best way to prevent blockages from occurring is to fit mesh guards over drains and downspouts. However, if you do install a guard, make sure you can remove it in the event you need to clean out or replace the gutters.
Gutters should be cleaned out in the spring and autumn, as this is when the majority of debris collects. So make a date in your diary and pick a fine, sunny day to get the job done.