Keeping your gutters and drains clean

Now that autumn is fast approaching, it’s time to start preparing your unoccupied property for the wetter and colder months ahead. Although often out of sight or overlooked, your gutters and drains should never be neglected. In this article, we explain the importance of keeping your gutters and drains clean and well maintained.

Why should you clean your gutters and drains?

Cleaning your gutters and drains will help prevent any leaf litter and debris from clogging them up. Gutters, as well as down-pipes and drains that are clogged with leaf litter and other material are at a much greater risk of overflowing and flooding. Overflowing water can cause extensive structural damage to your roof, walls and drains located in and around your property. Rainwater that is not directed away from your property via your gutters and drains, could also affect your buildings foundations and could contribute to ground heave or subsidence.

Clogged gutters and drains can also provide a home for all types of pests, ranging from insect nests, to plants and weeds and even small mammals such as mice or birds. If left to their own devices, these pests could cause greater problems down the line. By keeping gutters and drains clean and clear, you will reduce the likelihood of a pest moving in and causing significant damage.

When should I clean my gutters and drains?

Generally, the best time to clean your gutters and drains is during or at the end of autumn and after spring. However, it can also depend on a few other factors.

  • How close trees and large bushes are located to your property - if leaf litter can easily fall into the gutters and drains, then you may have to clean them more regularly.
  • How old is your property? If the drains and guttering are old, it may need regular cleaning to ensure proper draining, or may even need to be replaced if water is still not draining away.
  • Depending on how much rainfall your property experiences, could determine how often you should be checking your gutters and drains. Heavier rainfall could mean more regular inspections and cleaning.

How to tell if gutters and drains are not working

If you take into consideration all the variants above, and if you are checking your gutters and drains regularly, you should be able to notice if something is not right. Such as:

  • Water pooling around the down pipes or drains, or simply not flowing away from your property.
  • Water leaking or spurting out of gutter joints.
  • Gutters sagging under the weight of too much debris.
  • A build-up of damp and mould inside and outside of your property could indicate leaky gutters and inadequate drainage.
  • Water running down the walls of your property instead of flowing along your gutters and down your down pipes.

If you have noticed any of the signs above, chances are you either need to clean your gutters and drains or will need to replace them.

How to safely clean your gutters and drains

  • When cleaning your gutters, it’s much safer if you have a second person on hand to hold the ladder for you and to act as your look out just in case an accident occurs.
  • Make sure you use a sturdy and well-maintained ladder. Ladders with rust, missing parts or that feel wobbly and unstable could collapse.
  • Garden gloves can help prevent cuts on any foreign objects that may have landed in your gutters and drains. They also will help keep your hands clean!
  • It’s much easier to clean your gutters and drains when the leaf litter and debris is wet and soft. If it is dry and compact, it can be much harder to collect. If the material in your gutters is dry, run a hose in the gutter or drain to wet the material. It should come out much easier.
  • Dispose of all leaf litter and organic material as appropriate, such as in your garden waste bin.
  • Once the gutters are clear of debris, rinse them with a hose or bucket so it removes any remaining material or dirt. A stiff brush will also help to remove any grime.
  • For your drains, remove any waste that is sitting on top of your drain guards / grates. The drain guards or grate may need to be removed so you can check to see if any waste has fallen into the drain, as it will need to be removed. For serious blockages further down your drains and pipes, you may need to contact a specialist.

Although keeping your gutters and drains clean and well maintained may not be the most exciting task, it’s an important chore that could help prevent costly damage to your property. With unoccupied properties, gutters and drains that are left unchecked and clogged with debris, could cause significantly more damage if the property is left unchecked for a long period of time.

Views expressed in our articles do not necessarily reflect the views of Guardcover Unoccupied Property.

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