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The gutter and downpipe system on your building removes water and helps to prevent water damage to masonry and timber. Ensuring it is working effectively is a vital part of building maintenance. Most traditional buildings have cast iron systems, some may have internal downpipes and lead-lined gutters may also be used. Cast iron has a long life if well maintained and can last for many decades. Plastic gutters may be cheaper, but have a shorter lifespan and can break easily.
Rainwater disposal checklist:
You can find out more by reading the HES Inform Guide ‘The Maintenance of Cast Iron Rainwater Goods’.
Look for water backing up into the gutter, the gutter overflowing or water forced out of downpipe joints in heavy rain. Water trapped in blocked downpipes can freeze causing the cast iron to split open.
Check for a build-up of leaves, silt and slate debris, as these can often lead to vegetation growth and blocking up of guttering.
Check to see if there are any broken or loose gutter brackets, possibly putting the gutter out of alignment.
Look for chipped, spilt, flaking paint finishes or rust on cast iron. Problem areas to look out for are the back of gutters where they are tight against the wall or tucked under slates and behind downpipes and at the joints. Check for small holes, tears and thinning of the surface in lead gutters.
Check for broken, loose or missing brackets possibly causing downpipes to disconnect at the joints. Look for water staining and algae growth on the wall behind joints and the pipe.
If you get your roof checked annually, ask your roofer to look over the guttering for you. Some areas of guttering may be high or inaccessible. Always ensure you have a competent contractor who uses a safe access system for working at height.