Rainwater goods…are they really that important?

20 December 2022

Gutters and downpipes, we all have them on our buildings but how important are they really?  Leaking gutters and downpipes are one of the most common defects we see during our surveys; but how serious can a leaking gutter or downpipe be?  The answer is, it can be very serious.

Leaking gutters can overflow and saturate the walls beneath.  Long-term, this can lead to the brickwork spalling and crumbling and repairs will be necessary.  These can be extensive and in extreme circumstances, the entire walls can sometimes require complete reconstruction.

Below is an example of leaking gutters, which is due to poor design that has resulted in the entire wall requiring reconstruction.

A common problem we find is gutters that are blocked with vegetation growth due to a lack of maintenance.  Rainwater cascades over the blockages, which results in saturation of the walls beneath and also the ground.  In turn, this can lead to changes in ground conditions which can lead to ground instability and structural movement as was the case in this particular property.

So what can you do about it?

We recommend regular maintenance of the rainwater goods to ensure they are in a free-flowing and watertight condition.  Ideally, the rainwater goods should be checked twice a year, particularly after autumn and again in spring. This includes the removal of leaves and vegetation growth and also ensuring the joints are not leaking. Gutters should be fitted with leaf guards and wire balloons placed at the top of downpipes to help reduce blockages occurring if there are large trees nearby. You should also ensure that gullies and waterbutts are watertight with no leakages evident.

Some rainwater pipework, such as cast-iron pipework should be decorated regularly to prevent the surface finish from deteriorating and corroding.

In most cases, the maintenance works are generally quite simple and just require a certain amount of diligence.  However, in some instances, the leaks may be down to poor quality design and in these cases, we recommend you contact us for further advice as the repair works could be more complex.

If you need further advice about leaking rainwater goods, please call us on 01223 813129 for a chat with one of our team and they will be happy to advise you.

Paul O’Leary BSc (Hons) MRICS
December 2022

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