How to maintain your guttering
Difficulty rating: Low
These tasks should be fairly straightforward, whether you have experience doing DIY or none at all.
Before you get started on any of our 'how to' guides, please take a moment to read through our DIY safety tips.
1. Choosing your new system
You've got plenty of choice. Guttering comes in cast iron, cast aluminium or plastic. Most people choose plastic - it's cheaper, easier to fit and in most cases you won't need to paint it.
2. Measuring up for your new guttering
- Great guttering is all about good planning! Preparing well makes the job simpler:
- Before you remove your old guttering draw a rough diagram of how it looks now. This will make it easier when you put your new guttering in. Taking photographs of your current set-up can also be handy.
- With a measuring tape, measure all the pipes while they're still in place so you know how much material to buy.
3. Removing your old system
- Don't attempt this job on your own! Ask someone to help you - it'll be safer and quicker.
- Be really careful if you're stripping out asbestos guttering. Talk to your local council's environmental health department. They'll explain how to remove it and where to dispose of it. If you're taking off the guttering yourself, get some decent protection - wear a face mask and gloves. Don't break the guttering and keep it damp so you don't breathe in dust.
- If the fascia board is rotten, replace and paint it on both sides before installing your new guttering.
- If the fascia board is in good shape, simply fill in any holes left by the old screws and paint it before fitting the new guttering.
4. Installing the running outlet
- Once you've removed the old guttering system, you'll want to get cracking on your installation. But first you need to work out where the running outlet will go. This is how you do it:
- Position your ladder against the wall so you're directly above the ground level drain. Fix a ladder stay to the top of the ladder. This is a metal frame that props the ladder away from the wall so you can work on the guttering without leaning backwards (fig. 1).
- Now you'll be using a plumb line. This is a cord with a weight attached that will help you produce a vertical line. Hold your plumb line so it's hanging directly above the drain on the ground.
- Where you're holding the plumb line is the spot to position your running outlet.
- This is the lowest point of your guttering so fix it quite low on your fascia board.
- You're now ready to connect the running outlet. Use sheradised rustproof screws to fix a bracket for the new outlet to the fascia board - no more than 50mm down from the roof tiles (fig. 2).
Save water, money and energy by installing a water butt for collecting rainwater to use in your garden. And you won't have to worry about a hosepipe ban!
5. Installing the guttering
- It's vital you install guttering on a slight slope - otherwise the water won't drain away. It will just build up until you have a problem. Lubricate the joints with a silicone lubricant so they're sealed correctly.
- Measure out the slope before you fix anything: run a piece of string along the centre of the running outlet to the end of the fascia. As you do this, raise the piece of string 43mm in every 15m of gutter. Keep the string in place by wrapping it around a nail at every metre point (fig. 3).
- Next attach a gutter joint bracket 150mm from the end of the fascia. Use rustproof screws.
- Now attach a gutter joint bracket every metre. The brackets shouldn't be any more than 40mm from the roof tiles.
- You'll notice 'expansion marks' on the downpipes and guttering you've bought. These have been marked on because guttering expands and contracts depending on changes in temperature.
- Make sure you always work to these expansion marks.
- With a hacksaw trim the guttering down to the correct size. If you're left with any jagged edges use a file.
- Now place the guttering into the gutter joint brackets you fixed to the fascia. Connect this to the running outlet you've already installed.
- Fit a stop end to both ends of the guttering (fig. 4).
6. Installing the downpipe
- The downpipe carries the water that's been collected in the guttering and takes it away to the ground level drain.
- Work your way down the plumb line, fixing the downpipe sections to the wall with pipe brackets. You'll need 40mm screws and wall plugs to do this.
- Join each pipe together with pipe connectors.
- Run the downpipe to approximately 50mm above the drain. Attach a rainwater shoe.
- Fixing a drain cover will help prevent blockages.
7. Checking the new guttering
- With a hosepipe pour water into the highest point of the gutter and check it runs away freely (fig. 5).
- If water is pooling in the gutter, adjust your brackets so the water runs freely into the gutter outlet.
8. Maintaining your guttering
- Take time to walk around the outside of your house and inspect your guttering regularly. The best time is when it's raining heavily.
- Here are a few common problems to look out for:
- Water flowing over the top of the guttering.
- Leaking gutter joints.
- Damage to the fascia board - the screws can rust away or the board can rot.
- Blockages in your downpipes or the gutters leading to them.
- Cracks in cast iron guttering.
- Rusted guttering.
- Loose downpipes.
- Build-up of leaves, moss or dirt (fig. 6).
Wear strong work gloves when removing old piping - cast iron guttering, for example, can have jagged edges.
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