Gutters

Gutters take the rain from your roof and channel it away from your walls and the timbers set into the walls that are prone to rot if they are damp – lintels, joists and rafters. As our winters get wetter, it is very important that your gutters function properly. Cleaning will prevent overflows and regular maintenance will prevent leaks. Gutter repairs are almost always common repairs.

What to look out for

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Typical signs of gutter problemsJohn GilbertDamp stains under moulded gutter

Keep a regular eye on the gutters looking particularly for damp and stains underneath as these can be the first sign of leaks and overflows. Cracks in lintels underneath are sometimes the result of rot problems inside.

Quick action can prevent further damage to your decorations and the structure of your building.

Cleaning gutters

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Plant growth in guttersJohn GilbertRequired cleaning some years ago. Plants like this will likely mean the gutter is blocked, so water is likely overflowing the gutter

Leaves and roof debris clog gutters. Clean your gutters every year, if there are trees nearby in spring and autumn. Cleaning once every two years may be possible depending on the gutter. Plants growing in gutters are a sure sign of problems. 

Consider fitting a leaf guard over the outlet to the downpipe to help prevent blockages in the pipe but keep the guards themselves clean. Leafguards at outlets can also cause blockages as leaves will often collect around the wire cage and cause a blockage.

Dealing with climate change

As our winters get ever wetter with more frequent rain storms, gutter maintenance becomes even more critical. If you are replacing your gutters, increase their size so they can cope with more rain and add an undercloak to protect against rainstorms. 

Types of gutter

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Moulded Front Gutter

Usually made of cast iron and commonly found on the fronts of older stone tenements

Caring from moulded gutters

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Half round gutter

Widely used on the rear of older stone tenements and at front and rear of newer buildings

Keeping half round gutters in good shape

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Stone gutters

Also widely used on the front of stone buildings - leaks can be hard to spot until too late

Repairing stone gutters

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Parapet Gutters

Hidden behind a low stone wall at the top of your building, leaks are difficult to spot until its too late.

Maintaining parapet gutters

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Drainpipes

Taking water from the gutters to the drains, they can corrode and soak your walls.

Avoiding leaks in drainpipes

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Moulded front gutter

Cast iron gutters and the bolts that fix the joints in sections can rust and corrode.  Hard to check from ground level.

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Moulded gutterJohn GilbertSeen from below - note lead undercloak

What to look out for when replacing moulded gutters.

Half round gutter

These are normally made of cast iron. If they rust, they leak so paint them every 5 years - inside and out.  Look out for corrosion problems at the joints between gutter lengths too.

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Half round gutterJohn Gilbertnote how fixings have come away, the undercloak is decayed and the stonework is now damp

 

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Half round gutter in need of paintingJohn GilbertDon't forget to paint the insides of gutters

What to look for when repairing or replacing half round gutters

Stone gutter

Sometimes called eaves gutters, these are simply a channel in a top cornice stone.  The channel would be lined with lead or asphalt.  As these gutters are hidden, leaks can go undetected until it’s too late. These gutters are often too shallow to cope with rainstorms.

More information about repairing and replacing stone gutters

Parapet gutter

Parapets have a gutter hidden  behind them, normally made of lead. Any blockage can lead to problems, particularly in rainstorms. They should have a secondary safety overflow outlet. They are most likely to block at the connection with the drainpipe. The drain may be an internal pipe.

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Parapet with gutter behindJohn GilbertBlockages may only be seen from roof level

Further technical information on parapet gutters

Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas

If your building is listed or in a conservation area, you may need consent to replace your gutters with those made of an alternative materials.

Who pays?

Gutter repairs are almost always common repairs.  Replacing gutters with those of a higher specification to cope with climate change is an incidental improvement and therefore maintenance so does not need 100% agreement of owners.

Further information

Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings Technical Q&A 'Rainwater Disposal'

Historic Scotland Inform Guide 'Damp: Causes and Solutions'